Make perfectly steamed pork dumplings without a bamboo steamer. I'll show you how.
Step 1: Set up Your Crock Pot
You need to find a colander that fits inside your slow cooker. I had this pliable silicon vegetable steamer lying around the house. You could use a small conventional colander or mesh strainer too. Basically anything dome shaped that has some holes in it will work.
Fill up your crock pot with about 2 cups of water and turn it on high while you make the dumplings. You want the water to be simmering when you are ready to steam the dumplings. If you want to speed this process up, you can start with boiling water and then just turn your slow cooker on to keep the water hot.
Once the water is simmering well, carefully push the colander down into the slow cooker with the dome facing up. Push it down until the water level is about 1/2 inch from the dome.
Step 2: Prepare the Pork Filling
In the bowl of a food processor, combine 1/4 pound ground pork, 1/4 onion, 1 clove garlic, 2 large basil leaves, 2 sprigs parsley, a couple of fresh mushrooms, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1/2 tsp hot sauce (like Sriracha), a dash of soy sauce, 1 pinch of salt, and one medium egg. Pulse just until combined.
Step 3: Fill the Dumplings
Beat an egg.
Set 8 to 10 store bought dumpling wrappers onto a clean surface.
Spoon about 2 teaspoons of filling onto the center of each wrapper.
Using your finger, moisten the entire outer edge of the dumpling wrapper with egg. This will seal the dumplings when they are formed.
Step 4: Form the Dumplings
Pick one of the dumplings up and fold it in half like a taco.
Hold the dumping in the palm of your hand and use your thumb and forefinger to pinch the edges closed, while using your other hand to gather and pinch the edges, sealing the dumpling tight.
Step 5: Use your Crock to Steam Those Dumplings
Set the dumplings onto the colander, over the simmering water. Make sure the water level is low enough not to touch the dumplings. This will cause the wrappers to break down.
Place a lid onto the slow cooker.
I used a bamboo placemat that I happened to have on hand, to mimic the lid a conventional steamer would have. It allowed some steam to escape, releasing moisture, but keeping enough steam to cook the dumplings.
I did try a batch with the slow cooker lid, and it worked just fine. I just placed some paper towels over the top of the cooker before placing the lid down which helped absorb the excess moisture.
These will take about eight minutes.
When you think they're ready, remove one with a pair of tongs and slice it in half to make sure the pork is cooked through. Once you have a feel for the timing of your crock pot, you won't need to do this step.
Step 6: Eat and Enjoy!
Enjoy your steamed dumplings right away. They go great with some store bought sweet chili sauce. They are so tasty that they don't last very long, so I would advise making a double batch when you try these!
Feel great that you used your crock pot for something other than soup or stew! There's nothing like an appliance that does double duty!