This lady (lower left) is truly a champ, as she runs one of my favorite street food stands near the Ladies Market in Mongkok and WITHIN that stand makes one of my favorite little numnums in Hong Kong, pan-fried chive dumplings. They are perfect every time.
As much as I love the sense of adventure and the rush of adrenaline that comes from trying out different kinds of previously unheard of sketchy street meat, sometimes it’s nice to eat something with simpler flavors and textures, something comforting that you can enjoy without also kind of toying with the idea of vomiting it out before it can give you tapeworms. Because trying out the sketchy street meat of various cultures is, I can imagine, what it must be like for a man to “sample” local culture by seducing a lady of the night. There is a sense of intrigue and danger, a hush-hush naughtiness about the situation. It’s not something you tell too many people about and it’s something you regret when you wake up feeling a bit guilty and unclean. By that same analogy, getting a portion of these dumplings is taking home your aggressive little strumpet’s more conventional and humble roommate. Maybe it’s not as exciting but you feel better about yourself afterwards. Anyway…
These things are very yummy indeed. Chives are chopped up and seasoned. Some sticky substance (maybe egg white?) holds the thing together and makes it into an easy-to-scoop, dense filling which is stuffed into a little pocket made by folding a sheet of dumpling dough over itself. The thing is then grilled in skewer form to cook whatever that protein-rich goop holding the green stuff together is. They cost around 12 HKD (1.50 USD) for 6 of them and they are incredibly warm, filling, and delicious. A choice of 3-4 sauces is also available in case additional flavor is required.
They please. The outer layer of the of the dough is seared on an oiled, hot, metal surface and becomes a nice and crispy, golden sheet on either side of the dumpling. The interior of the dough, especially the folded layer inside of the thing, remains a bit chewy, with a bite to it. The filling is creamy, moist and dense and it makes the wrapper bulge out like a fat, smooth little baby belly, impossible not to bite into. The flavor is not particularly exciting but pleasantly onion-y, which is enough for me. Adding a bit of hoisin sauce brings a sweetness as well as a very subtle marine element to the bite, echoing a shrimp and chive or scallop and chive dumpling. Adding soy sauce brings out the natural sweetness of the chives within. Adding a chili sauce gives it a punch of heat which takes over the flavor and makes the dumpling more of a textural component. Hot, delicious, comforting. A snack you can bring home to mom.