For anybody who has ever wanted to try making Asian dumplings at home but has been daunted by the various wrapper folding techniques, these little treats might be just the ticket to get you started. I have done a number of posts featuring Shumai and Jaozi style dumplings in the past, both of which require a little bit of practice to produce successfully, but these are really simple to make and the perfect place for the novice to take the plunge…
For this experiment, I will be mixing up a filling composed of pork and cabbage that is quite popularly used in the Guōtiē, or ‘pot-sticker’ type of dim-sum dumplings, and, as a matter of fact, we will be using the same basic cooking technique for these dumplings here.
For the dough, you will need a Basic Dumpling Dough made with one cup of flour.
The Filling Ingredients
- 1 cup ground Pork;
- 1 ½ cup shredded Cabbage;
- 2 scallions, finely chopped;
- 1 tbsp. minced Ginger;
- 1 tbsp. Sugar;
- 1 tsp. Pepper;
- 1 tbsp. Soy Sauce;
- 1 tbsp. Sesame Oil;
- ½ tsp. Salt;
- Extra Flour for rolling the dough (not shown).
First, toss the cabbage shreds with a tablespoon or two of additional salt and set aside in a bowl or colander for about thirty minutes. When the cabbage is wilted and has thrown off a good bit of water, rinse it very well to remove the salt, squeeze completely dry, and then chop finely.
Now mix the cabbage with the other filling ingredients in a bowl. When all the ingredients are incorporated homogenously, continue to stir, in one direction only, about 30 times, or until the mass becomes sticky. Set it in the fridge to firm up a little as this makes it a little easier to handle later.
When you are ready to proceed, pinch of a quail-egg sized lump from your ball of fresh dough and, using a little extra flour, roll it out into a circle about 4 inches in diameter. Place a generous tablespoon or so of the filling in the center and spread it out slightly.
The folding technique here consists of nothing more complicated than gathering up the edges of the dough circle and pinching them together over the top of the filling so that a little ‘bag’ is formed.
Now, pinch off some of the excess dough formed where you squeezed the edges together and press the remainder down so that you have a slightly flattened dumpling. You can actually boil or steam these like this but, for today, we will be frying the dumplings and the upper surface shown in the picture here will actually be the underside of the finished product.
Flip the dumpling over and shape it with your hands so that you have a nice little ‘bun’ shape then repeat with the remaining dough and filling until you have used it all up. You should have about 16 dumplings in all and, while you could make more with thinner skins, this is probably a good size to try if you are new to the process.
To cook the dumplings, we will be using a generous amount of oil (3 or 4 tablespoons is about right) over moderate heat. Cook in batches, and make sure the dumplings have plenty of room in the pan and do not touch or they will stick together and tear when you remove them.
Place your first batch in the pan, top-side down, and sauté gently for about 2 – 3 minutes until the bottoms (really the top, of course), are getting crispy and lightly golden. Since these dumplings are quite thick, you don’t want the heat to be too high, so just a moderate sizzle is just right.
Flip the dumplings and let fry for another minute or so. When the bottoms been seared, pour about a quarter cup of water into the pan and cover with a lid so that the dumplings begin to steam. After two or three minutes, when the water has almost disappeared, remove the lid and continue to cook until the water has completely gone and the undersides are nicely crisp and brown. Repeat with the remaining dumplings and serve along with your favorite dipping sauce (soy with black vinegar is nice).
These were very nice… as they always are. The result is a bit crude and rustic (in fact, the ‘wrapping’ method is actually used for making a sort of steamed, stuffed bun using leavened dough), but this is a good way to get started if you are new to dumplings. After you have tried at least once, you might want to increase the number of dumplings yielded to 24. Using thinner wrappers requires a bit more deft handling (and considerably more rolling) but the final product will be better.