Ahh, tadpoles. They might be small, and they can certainly be considered a seasonal delicacy, but when you can get them fresh…they’re delicious. There are few things the denizens of Hell love more than a bowl of hot tadpoles in the spring. Unfortunately, they’re a once a year treat and the window of acquisition is frighteningly short, so when tadpoles are in small supply, you can always substitute this recipe.
This recipe makes around 15 tadpoles.
For the pork stuffing you will need:
- 1/2 Pound ground pork
- 1 Egg
- 1 Teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 Cup chopped green onion tops
- 1/2 Tablespoon salt
- 1 Teaspoon chili oil
- 1 Teaspoon black sesame seeds
- 2 Teaspoons oil
- 1 Bunch bok choy
- 1 Tablespoon Shaoxing wine (Sherry can also be substituted)
With a sharp knife, cut off the white bottoms of the bok choy and dice finely until you have around 1 full cup. Save the leafy green tops…you will need those for the broth.
In a large bowl, mix all your ingredients until you get a thick paste. Set aside for now.
For the tadpole skins you will need:
- 1/2 Cup tapioca starch
- 1 1/2 Cups wheat starch
- 1 1/2 Cups boiling water
- 1 teaspoon oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix your dry ingredients together and then add in your boiling water and oil. You want to add just enough liquid to congeal the mass.
Using a fork or wooden spoon, mix the dough together until the water is absorbed.Once the water is absorbed you should be left with a thick white pasty dough.
Using a splash of oil, grease your hands and squeeze the dough in the bowl to evenly distribute the moisture. Once the dough achieves a consistent texture much like thick clay, cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for about 2o minutes.
For the bog broth you will need:
- 3 Cups chicken broth
- 1 Tablespoon Sesame Oil
- 1/2 Teaspoon salt
- Leafy green tops from the bok choy.
In a saucepan, toss the bok choy leaves with salt and a splash of oil and allow them to wilt on medium heat. Once the leaves are wilted, add in the chicken broth and sesame oil. Bring to a simmer.
To make your tadpoles:
With well greased hands, portion out a ball of dough about the size of a golf ball.
Sandwich the dough between two pieces of plastic wrap and press flat until it’s about 3 inches across and roughly uniform in thickness.
Once your dough is pressed flat, place a teaspoon of your pork stuffing in the center of your dough.
Gently fold the dough over on itself, pressing down around the edge of the filling, sealing it in.
With a sharp oiled knife, you want to cut two triangular shapes out of your dough, being careful not to cut through the area you sealed around your filling. You will end up with a shape that resembles the head of an elephant. This is the tail of your tadpole.
Then, using your knife again, carefully cut around the top of your filling pocket and down the sides, creating the body and back legs of your tadpole (because everyone knows, tadpoles with back legs are much tastier than tadpoles without legs.)
Carefully pick up your tadpole and use your fingers to sculpt and mold the dough until you end up with a shape you are happy with. Once you have a tadpole shape, lightly brush the top with soy sauce and sprinkle with black sesame seeds for “spots.” I like to use sesame seeds to make eyes as well.
As you work, you can store your finished tadpoles on a lightly oiled plate. Be sure to cover them with a damp towel so they don’t dry out.
Once all your tadpoles are done, it’s time to steam them. Make sure you oil your steamer basket as well as the bottom of your tadpoles before steaming to ensure they don’t stick. You can also steam them on a piece of parchment paper cut to the size of your steamer basket.
Steam your tadpoles for 10-12 minutes to ensure the pork is fully cooked. As they cook, the skins will turn translucent. Make sure you don’t over steam them as they will disintegrate.
Once they are cooked completely, it’s time to plate them up.
Spoon a cup of your bog broth into a bowl, making sure to get a few nice chunks of the bok choy. Gently place your tadpoles onto of the bok choy and allow them to soak up a bit of the broth.
Alternately, you can serve them on a bed of wilted bok choy and save the broth for another evening.
However you decide to enjoy your tadpoles is up to you…just make sure your pork is fully cooked through.
As we say in hell…Bone appetite!
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