Since I’ve started blogging, I’ve been paying more attention to the presentation of the food that I cook — as it is only by photos (and words) that I can show my creations. However, I always put flavor first. Making food look pretty is important, as it does influence how you have perceive the taste, but the taste always comes first.
Chor Muang is called “royal” for a reason, because only royalty has the kind of kitchen staff that is needed to put this much effort in presentation of food alone. The name literally means “purple bouquet”. Chor Muang are dumplings of rice flour colored with butterfly pea flowers and filled with a sweet-salty filling. They are tasty, but they are a LOT of work.
Usually I don’t shy away from recipes that are a lot of work, as I routinely make ravioli from scratch. But in this case, too much of the effort goes into the presentation. Furthermore, the rice flour dough is very difficult to work with, so it was driving me absolutely crazy. The dough is sticky when you don’t want it to stick, but doesn’t stick when you want it to. So this was the first and last time I made them.
I’ve followed Hot Thai Kitchen’s recipe and if you are still planning to make these dumplings, I’d recommend to increase the amount of dough as her recipe has just the minimum amount you will need. If you make the balls of filling only slightly smaller and end up with more balls, you will not have enough dough. To make the flowers you are supposed to use bespoke Chor Muang tweezers, but you can get a decent enough result using regular tweezers.
Makes about 40 dumplings
For the filling
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 cilantro root (or 6-8 cilantro stems)
5 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
50 grams (1/3 cup) roasted peanuts
250 grams (1.1 lbs) lean ground pork or ground chicken
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 medium onion, minced
80 grams (2.8 oz) palm sugar, chopped
5 tsp fish sauce
For the dough (this is 50% more than proposed by Hot Thai Kitchen, see note above)
150 grams (1 cup) rice flour
37 grams (4 1/2 Tbsp) arrowroot starch
18 grams (2 Tbsp) glutinous rice flour
270 ml (1 cup + 2 Tbsp) hot water
4 1/2 Tbsp coconut milk
1 1/2 Tbsp dried butterfly pea flowers
1 Tbsp lime juice
fried garlic and garlic oil from 1 head of garlic
thai chilies, sliced
Put a teaspoon of white peppercorns in a mortar…
…and pound with a pestle until fine.
Add chopped garlic and cilantro root…
…and pound until mashed. Remove this paste from the mortar and set aside. Do not clean the mortar.
Toast the sesame seeds.
Put the sesame seeds in the mortar…
…and crush them lightly.
Add the roasted peanuts…
…crush them, and transfer to a bowl.
Mix the ground meat with the fish sauce.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a frying pan (you can also use a wok because that makes it look more Thai, but it won’t affect the taste) and add the minced onion.
Add the paste of cilantro root, garlic, and white pepper as well, and sauté…
…until the onions are translucent.
Add the meat…
…and sauté until the raw color of the meat has disappeared.
Then add the palm sugar…
…and stir over low to medium heat until the sugar has melted.
Add the nuts…
…and keep stirring over medium heat until the filling is sufficiently dry. Then allow the filling to cool completely and chill it in the refrigerator. This will make it easier to work with.
To make the dough, put the dried flowers in the hot water…
…and allow to steep for at least 15 minutes.
Sift the water after steeping…
…and add lime juice to change the color from blue to purple. This ‘magic’ happens because the chemical compound from the flowers that creates the color responds to the acidity of the water.
Mix the rice flour, glutinous rice flour, and arrowroot starch.
Put the flours in a saucepan, and add the purple water as well as the coconut milk.
Whisk until there are no more lumps.
Now cook this mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula, until the dough comes together.
Transfer the dough to a work surface that you have dusted with rice flour. Knead the dough until it is smooth and pliable.
Store the dough under a moist (not wet) tea towel to prevent it from drying out.
Once the filling has been chilled completely, roll it into 40 balls of 6-7 grams each, pressing on the balls with your fingers to compact them.
Take a piece of dough of 7-8 grams, and flatten it into a circle with your hands. Press down on the edges more than on the center, so that the edges are thinner.
Place a ball of filling on the circle of dough.
Fold the dough around the filling, making pleats…
…until you have closed the dumpling.
Tap down the dumpling with the seam side down to close it further.
Now use tweezers to make the dumpling look like a flower. Dip the tweezers in rice flour often to prevent sticking.
Repeat this 40 times. We gave up after 20.
Line a steamer with perforated oven paper, and arrange the dumplings in the steamer.
Steam the dumplings for 5-6 minutes.
To make the garlic oil, fry a minced head of garlic in oil over low to medium heat until the garlic is crispy but not brown.
Use a sieve to separate the garlic oil and crispy garlic.
When the dumplings have been steamed…
…immediately brush them with garlic oil to prevent them from drying out. Serve on lettuce with chilies and cilantro, and sprinkle with crispy garlic.
We enjoyed this with a slightly sweet Riesling Auslese “Feinherb” from Mosel in Germany.
This hare stew is a sous vide version of lepre alla cacciatora.