Thursday, March 26, 2009

perfecting the Manti

Jon and I are getting ready for a trip to Turkey, where I hope to expand my sample selection of manti (lamb dumplings), and eventually develop the perfect hybrid recipe. My filling is steadily growing more flavorful and succulent; in the most recent batch I used a mixture of ground lamb and veal, which added a significant tenderness. I still think they could use more fat, either from a fattier cut of lamb or as Jon suggests, by adding in some chopped pork fat or bacon. I'm also considering cooking the filling before stuffing the dumplings, as a bit of a sear on the meat might add a dimension of flavor. As with most things dumpling, the more egg and onion I add the better the filling seems to taste. Sweet and spicy Hungarian paprika imported by my mother has also been a good addition to the mix. Eventually I will need to work on the wrapper. So far I was most pleased with the wonton wrappers we purchased at a Safeway in Tuscon. They were very fresh, soft when boiled, and used a minimum of corn starch. Berkeley Bowl has stiff yellow wonton wrappers, and the two brands I tried from Richmond's Ranch 99 market were fresher but suffered from an over-abundance of cornstarch. At some point I will make them with a homemade wrapper dough, which I can roll out in the pasta maker Jon found for me at a yard sale. The most "authentic" Turkish manti seem to be made with hand-rolled dough and are very tiny little pyramids, but these have never quite satisfied my desire for biting into a good-sized portion of filling. I'm currently aiming for a version of the larger dumplings I first encountered at Khyber Pass in the East Village; perhaps I should be reading up on Afghani dumplings as well. Still, I have hope that somewhere in Turkey I may be converted to loving the smaller version, as there seem to be entire towns devoted to the art of manti making.

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