Neighborhood Eats: Yak Dumplings

September 24, 2010 3:12:40 PM PDT
The ride on the Seven Train is nothing like a climb up Mount Everest. However, it will get you to Jackson Heights, where there is a taste of the Himalayas.

"The community has grown in the last 5 years in Jackson Heights area," Tashi Sherpa said.

Nepalese immigrants as well as some from Tibet and Bhutan and all of those cultures represent at the Himalayan Yak Restaurant. And don't forget Indian dishes too.

"When I'm here I lean especially Nepalese," Sherpa said.

So Nepalese is the mildest offering and features a Thai dish.

"Rice lentils, feels like home," Sherpa said.

For a taste of Tibet, everyone recommends one dish.

"The dumplings you shouldn't miss them," Sherpa said.

Not just any dumplings, but yak dumplings.

"You should try yak meat. Less fat than beef grass fed," Sherpa said.

In addition, while yaks are popular in the Himalayas, in the states, they are hard to find. Therefore, the chef gets his yak meat from a farm in Vermont. To that, he adds a variety of spices plus parsley and onions. It mix together and then the dough is rolled out, filled, crimped and steamed. The dumplings called Momo.

"I can honestly say but this is a first," Sherpa said.

It really is, but not very different from a beef dumpling. You can wash it down with a Mango Lassi or butter tea. Yes, there is butter in that tea. Other dishes may look more familiar, but for many, this is as familiar as food gets.

"This place reminds me of my home country the food is really delicious."

MOMO Recipe:

Serving Size: 2-3 people

Preparation Time: 1 hr preparation and 15 minutes for steaming

Ingredients:

Dough for wrappers:

  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch of salt

    Filling:

  • 1 lb. lean ground lamb, chicken, pork, or yak
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup green scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 tablespoon vegetable oil or butter
  • Salt to taste

    Preparation:

    Dough:
    In a large bowl combine flour, oil, salt and water. Mix well; knead until the dough becomes homogeneous in texture for about 5-8 min. Cover and let stand for at least 30 min. Knead well again before making wrappers.

    Filling:
    In a large bowl combine all filling ingredients. Mix well; adjust for seasoning with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour to allow all ingredients to impart their unique flavors and improve the consistency of the filling.

    Assembly:

    1) Prepare 4 to 5 inches dough balls and roll between your palms to spherical shape.

    2) Dust working board with dry flour and use a rolling pin to roll out and create circle wrapper.

    3) Use a Stainless steel glass or bowl with slight sharp edges to cut the rolled dough into small spherical wrappers. It is essential that the middle portion of the wrapper be slightly thicker than the edges to ensure the structural integrity of dumplings during packing and steaming.

    4) Hold the edges of the semi-flattened dough with one hand and with the other hand begin rolling the edges of the dough out, swirling a bit at a time. Continue until the wrapper attains a diameter circular shape.

    5) For packing hold wrapper on one palm, put one tablespoon of filling mixture and with the other hand bring all edges together to the center, making the pleats. Pinch and twist the pleats to ensure the absolute closure of the stuffed dumpling. This holds the key to good tasting, juicy dumplings.

    6) Heat up a steamer, oil the steamer rack well. This is critical because it will prevent dumplings from sticking. Close the lid, and allow steaming until the dumplings are cooked through, about 10-15 min.


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