In a city known for having stellar restaurants, Hong Kong's Ho Lee Fook is a standout. Inspired by late-night Chinatown hangouts in '60s New York, and old-school Hong Kong cha chaan tengs (or tea restaurants), it's one of the buzziest restaurants in the city thanks to its innovative take on Chinese cuisine. The name, Ho Lee Fook, isn't just a clever play on a popular English expression—often exclaimed while eating something especially tasty—it actually means "good fortune for your mouth." Which is exactly what chef Jowett Yu's favorite traditional Chinese New year recipe will bring to your celebration.
Chef Jowett's "Mostly Cabbage, a Little Bit of Pork" Dumplings are a family recipe, passed down by his mother. The two used to make them together at home, and they're a central part of New Year festivities. "In ancient China, a gold bullion called Yuanbao was used as currency," Jowett says. "Since dumplings resemble the shape of Yuanbao, it's seen as a prosperous thing to have during a Chinese New Year banquet." If you're not in Hong Kong, you can still make these dumplings for a party with friends to bring some good luck to this Year of the Monkey!
Mom's "Mostly Cabbage, a Little Bit of Pork" Dumplings
Servings: 15 to 20
125 pieces of white, round dumpling skin
1 ⅓ lbs. pork neck
2 teaspoons salt
How to Make It
Core and roughly chop the cabbage, making sure it's not too fine. Add one teaspoon of salt, then macerate the cabbage with your hands, making sure you are rubbing the salt into the chopped cabbage. Squeeze out excess water, drain, set aside.
Chop the pork neck into the smallest cubes you can. Divide the diced pork into two parts. Whip 1/2 of the chopped pork until it is creamy and sticky. This gives the dumplings a gelatinous texture. Mix the pork and cabbage with the remaining ingredients.
On a large tray, sprinkle some flour to prevent the dumplings from sticking. Have a small bowl of water ready to help glue the dumpling skin together. Put about a tablespoon of pork mix into the skin, add a small dab of water to the edges, and then fold over. Work with your fingers to make folds, pressing on the edges to seal the dumpling. (Any leftover dumplings can be frozen and cooked at a later date—but once frozen, it's best to eat them within three weeks.)
You can make your own dumpling dressing with any combination of light soy sauce, Chinkiang vinegar, chili flakes and chili oil, sesame oil, chopped coriander, and/or chopped green shallots. It is a matter of personal taste, so this can be in any proportion.
For more information, see holeefook.com.hk.