If you look at this with just a teeny bit of humor you might say it’s a black goldfish from the Gulf of Mexico, but in all seriousness, I think it resembles a mutant tadpole with green eyes. Translucent goldfish dumplings (dim sum) aren’t anything new on the asian food scene and the idea to make a darker variation had the wheels turning in my head. Think squid ink.
Once in a blue moon I’ll buy nero di seppia (literally, black of cuttlefish) to make squid ink pasta and risotto, so this was merely taking the dumpling one step further. I promise that once you get the hang of shaping these, you’ll be feeling like a kid all over again. The filling is a mixture of ground pork, minced onions, finely cubed red bell pepper, thinly sliced cloud ear fungus, chopped cilantro, oyster sauce, salt and pepper.
Recipe here. Add a small drop or two of squid ink to achieve a charcoal color.
1. Place a walnut-sized amount of filling to one side of the round.
2. Bring the top and bottom ends together, sealing the center. Tuck in open ends.
3. Pleat top edge (optional), firmly press the “tails” and gently stretch to elongate.
4. Use a chopstick to shape eye sockets.
5. Fill eye sockets with peas.
Brush steamer insert with vegetable oil (or line with napa cabbage leaves). Arrange goldfish, leaving enough space so that they do not touch. Steam for about 12 minutes over a medium simmer. For yellow-colored goldfish, I added saffron powder to the water called for in the recipe, but you could also use food coloring. For a mottled “calico” look, blend two or more colored doughs together. Check this example at Flickr. Serve with shoyu-vinegar dipping sauce or float in a simple broth.