On Oct. 8, we had author Jen Lin-Liu on to tell the story behind her book, “On The Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, With Love and Pasta.” She also brought our guest host Jane Clayson some delicious manta and tortellini to taste on air. You can make those pasta dishes from both the East and West yourself — Jen Lin-Liu’s recipes are below.
Manta (Central Asian Dumplings)
Makes 5-6 servings
For the wrappers:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg white
1 tablespoon salt
2 cups water
For the filling:
1 pound ground lamb or finely diced pumpkin
3 white onions, minced
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
if using pumpkin: 1 tablespoon sugar
Clotted sheep’s cream (substitute: marscapone cheese)
In a large bowl, combine flour, salt, egg white, and mix with your hands. Add the water slowly while mixing, and after the water is fully incorporated, knead the dough for 3-5 minutes until it becomes a smooth mound. Cover with a cloth and let it rest for half an hour.
While the dough is resting, in a separate bowl, combine the ingredients for the filling.
After the dough has rested, break off about a quarter and divide the quarter into two pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope 1-inch in diameter. With a knife or your hand, cut or break the rope into smaller pieces about 1-inch long each. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten into a circle with your palm. With a rolling pin, roll out each piece of dough into a thin circle larger than your palm.
Dust a cutting board with flour. With the wrapper resting in your palm, place two tablespoons of filling into the center of the wrapper. Pinch together the edges of the dumpling so that the filling is completely sealed and the dumpling takes on an oblong shape. Place on the cutting board and repeat the wrapping process with the remaining dumpling skins. Break off another quarter of the dough, and repeat the rolling and wrapping process, before moving on to another batch until all the dough and filling is gone.
Place a dozen dumplings in the steamer insert over a pot and steam for 20 minutes. Repeat with the remaining dumplings, working in batches of a dozen. Serve immediately with clotted sheep’s cream or marscapone cheese.
Manti (Turkish Dumplings)
Makes 5-6 servings
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups water
1 recipe’s worth of Manti Filling
1 recipe’s worth of Manti Yogurt Sauce
1 bunch scallions, white parts only, chopped into thin rings
1/2 cup butter
1 tablespoon paprika
¼ cup chopped walnuts
Place the flour in a large bowl. Stir in 1 cup of water and work the water into the flour with your hands. Slowly add more water, about ¼ cup at a time, mixing thoroughly so the water is fully incorporated before adding more. Stop when the dough is springy and soft, the texture of Play-Doh. Transfer to a clean surface and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Divide the dough in half and return one half underneath the damp cloth. Place the other half on a clean, dry, sturdy, large surface sprinkled with flour and knead for several minutes. Flatten the dough with your hands into a circle and roll out with the rolling pin until it is 1-2mm in thickness.
Cut the flattened dough into 3/4-inch squares. Working with one square at a time, place a tiny amount of filling in the center of the dough, bring diagonal corners together to make a triangle and press together the edges to seal the filling. Bring the opposite sides of the triangle together and press them together. Repeat with each square. When finished wrapping all the dumplings, roll out the other half of the dough and repeat the cutting and wrapping process with the rest of the squares.
Bring 2 quarts of water to boil in a large stockpot. Add half the scallion rings. Boil the dumplings in batches, about a quarter at time, for 4-5 minutes.
In a large frying pan, melt half butter on medium heat, add half the paprika and half the walnuts. Add half of the boiled dumplings, toss, and divide between several pasta plates. Repeat this step with the rest of the dumplings and serve immediately, garnishing each plate with scallions and Manti Yogurt Sauce.
Manti Filling: mix 1 pound ground lamb (or beef), ½ cup minced yellow onions, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper.
Manti Yogurt Sauce: mix 1 cup of yogurt, several minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon chopped mint, and 1 teaspoon ground chili pepper.
Makes 4 servings
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ pound ricotta cheese
½ cup grated parmigiano-reggino cheese, plus extra for garnish
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 cloves minced garlic
¼ cup water
1 dozen fresh sage leaves
½ stick butter
Heap flour on a large, flat surface and and make a well in the center. Break the eggs into the well and beat them with a fork, until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough is soft, pliable, and smooth. Let the dough rest, covered, for 30 minutes.
In a medium bowl, mix together ricotta cheese, parmigiano-reggino cheese, parsley, garlic and egg.
Divide the dough in half. Working with one half at a time (covering the unused portion of dough), knead the dough briefly, then flatten and stretch it with your hands into a rectangle. Sprinkle the dough with flour and flatten the dough with a rolling pin until it is about 2 milimeters thick. (For more detailed instructions, please see p. 96-97 of On the Noodle Road.)
Cut the dough into 2-inch squares. Place a bit of cheese filling in the center of each square, bring diagonal corners together and pinch the edges together to make a sealed triangle. Bring the opposite edges of the triangle together and press firmly. Repeat the wrapping procees with the rest of the dough.
Boil the tortelloni for 3-4 minutes, drain through a collander and set aside.
Bring ¼ cup water to boil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add sage leaves torn into pieces and reduce the heat to low, simmering the leaves for 3-4 minutes. Add butter and allow it to melt. Stir in the tortellini and toss in the butter-sage sauce. Garnish with extra parmigiano and serve immediately.
(Recipes courtesy Jen Lin-Liu)