Is it any wonder that dumplings are a comfort food for a Taiwanese American girl like me? I have fond memories of sitting with my mom over a bowl of dumpling filling and cranking out dozens of these while we talked and talked and talked some more. She was always lightning-fast at assembling these, and although I’ve gotten better, she still outpaces me by a wide margin. Then we’d sit down with my dad to dinner and jokingly compete to see who could eat the most dumplings (hint: always my dad). Although sweet C is old enough to make these with me, she tires quickly, so I’m looking forward to making similar memories with her once she’s a bit older.
When I first posted pictures of dumplings for Dinner365, I received several requests for the recipe. It would have been easy to simply post the written instructions, but I wanted to do this one justice with pictures and careful testing to make sure my recipe was accurate. So forgive me if you’ve been waiting a while for this one, but I hope that you’ll have a chance to try them out. This recipe is adapted from my mom’s recipe for dumplings.
Chinese Dumplings (makes about 56)
Ingredients for Dipping Sauce
5 Tbsp soy sauce (preferably Kimlan aged soy sauce)
1 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar
1 Tbsp Chinese sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, smashed and coarsely chopped
1 pinch of sugar
Ingredients for Dumplings
3 cups of finely chopped Napa cabbage
3 large pinches of salt
5 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated
5 scallions, white and green parts, finely chopped
8 oz. raw, peeled, deveined shrimp, finely chopped
1 lb. ground pork
3 Tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. ground white pepper
Instructions for the Dipping Sauce:
Here is a picture of what you’ll need.
In the matter of sauce-making, I can be a bit particular about ingredients. The bottle on the left is Kimlan-brand aged soy sauce; I find the flavor has more depth than your standard soy sauce. I use it for everything. The bottle in the middle is labeled “Orient Worcestershire Sauce”. I assure you that this is NOT Worcestershire Sauce of any sort. The giant Chinese characters in the middle decidedly say “black vinegar”. Again, it’s Kimlan-brand, and my preferred option. Finally, you’ve got sesame oil on the right. Any kind of Chinese sesame oil should do nicely. I know all ingredients are not universally available, but if you can find these at your local well-stocked Asian grocery store, all the better.
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and let it sit. And sit. And sit some more. Ideally this concoction gets to sit for at least a couple of hours before you use it so that all the garlicky goodness infuses into the sauce.
Instructions for Dumplings:
Start with your Napa cabbage.
Cut away all the brown bits, and finely chop that puppy until you have about 3 cups. You want to make sure that your pieces are reasonably small so that they fit nicely into the dumpling wrappers. Put your chopped cabbage in a large mixing bowl with three large pinches of salt. Toss the cabbage with the salt, and let it sit for at least 20 minutes.
While your cabbage is sitting, you can prep your other ingredients, like your shrimp…
And your aromatics…
After about 20 minutes, the salt will have pulled a lot of moisture out of the cabbage, and it should be sitting in a puddle of water. Reach in there and squeeze the cabbage and dump out the water. Then add the rest of your dumpling ingredients (except, of course the wrappers), and get your hands in there to mix thoroughly.
Once you’ve got everything mixed, you can start wrapping dumplings. When you buy dumpling wrappers at the store, you may find them under the name “gyoza wrappers” or simply “dumpling wrappers”. Whatever you do, do NOT buy anything labeled “wonton wrappers”; wontons are made from a wrapper that’s much too thin for our purposes here. These are my preferred wrapper (Twin Marquis brand), and I find them at my local Chinese grocery store in the freezer aisle.
On to the filling! To do this, you’ll need a teaspoon and a small bowl of water. Place a heaping teaspoonful of dumpling filling in the middle of each wrapper like so.
Then, you want to dip your finger in the water, and run it around the edge of the wrapper to wet it slightly like so.
Then fold the wrapper in half and pinch it all the way around to seal it shut, like so.
Pay special attention the the corners and make sure those are pinched really tight like so.
Set the completed dumpling on a plate, then lather, rinse, repeat. Once you have several giant plates of dumplings, you can do one of several things.
First, you can cook them. These dumplings can be boiled, steamed, or pan-friend. To boil, simply drop them into a large pot of boiling water, stirring gently to make sure they don’t stick to each other or the bottom of the pan. 5-6 minutes does the trick.
If you have a steamer or a pot with a steamer basket, you can put these in (I like to put them on a sheet of parchment paper in the bamboo steamer basket) and steam them for 7-8 minutes.
To pan-fry them, heat some cooking oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and drop the dumplings in, making sure they don’t stick to each other. Let them cook for 2-3 minutes, getting one side nice and browned and crispy. Add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan, and cover, letting them steam for an additional 3-4 minutes. Once the water has steamed off, let them cook for an additional 3-4 minutes to crisp up again.
If you don’t plan to eat them all at once, you can put them in a single layer on a plate or cookie sheet lightly coated with flour, and stick the whole thing in the freezer. Once they’re frozen, you can put the dumplings in a freezer bag and they’ll keep for a couple of months in the freezer (that is, if they last that long).
So there you have it, Chinese dumplings three ways. I’d love to hear if you get a chance to try them. Yes, they’re a bit of work to assemble, but completely worth it. Serve them with the dipping sauce, a side salad or whatever veggies you have on hand, and enjoy!
P.S. The three on the left are boiled, the one on top is pan-fried. And if you think I ate only three of them, then you are sorely mistaken. :)
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