Who doesn’t love dumplings? With that in mind, I decided to make dumplings the star of a cooking class I had with friends last week. Growing up I would sit at the kitchen table, filling and making countless dumplings with my mom. She never used a recipe for the filling, so I never did either, just eyeballing ingredients as I threw them together.
To get started, you can follow the recipe below, but feel free to make changes to make it your own. I always ensure I make enough dumplings to freeze some as well. There have been many a hungry time when my husband and I want something to eat quickly, and voila, frozen homemade dumplings to the rescue!
You can either use the store bought pre-made wrappers, which are convenient and save time, or you can make your own dough. I personally prefer the taste and chewy texture of the homemade dough, especially when the dumplings are boiled. We tried both in the cooking class and we all preferred the homemade dough, but the pre-made wrappers work fine too.
- 2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 cup of cold water (we’ll use just under 1 cup of water in the recipe, but for ease of measurement, just have the full cup ready and pour as needed, some water will be left behind)
Put flour in a large bowl and create a well in the middle of the flour, slowly add in most of the water into the well leaving about 1/8 behind, and mix the flour into the water well. Mix until the dough comes together (if it’s too dry, add more water, if it’s too wet and sticky, add more flour). Turn the dough out onto a clean floured surface and knead until the dough becomes smooth. Place back in bowl and cover with a towel or plastic wrap and let sit while you make the filling.
When the filling is ready and the dough has rested at least 30 minutes, divide the dough into three even pieces. Work with one piece at a time, ensuring that the other dough pieces are covered so they don’t dry out. Using your palms, roll the dough on a floured work surface so that it becomes a long, thin log, about an inch in diameter. Cut the log into 12 even pieces and roll each piece into a ball with your palms. Flatten a ball with the base of your palm against the floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll out the ball into a thin, round dough wrapper. Keep any dough that is not being used covered so that they don’t dry out.
This can be made while the dumpling dough is resting, or you can make it in advance and let it sit for a few hours or overnight. Do whatever is easiest and you have the time for.
- 1 lb of lean ground pork meat (not extra-lean)
- 2-3 green onions, minced
- 1/2 of small-medium nappa cabbage, finely sliced
- 1/2 – 1 inch knob of ginger, peeled and finely minced
- 1-2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2-3 tbsp of light soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of dark soy sauce
- 1 tbsp of Shiao Xing cooking wine
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp of sugar
- 2-3 tsp of tapioca starch (or corn starch)
- 1 egg
- salt (to taste if needed after tasting the cooked filling)
Combine all of the filling ingredients together and mix well with your hands, chopsticks, fork or spoon.
Quick Tip: A good way to ensure you have a tasty dumpling is to quickly cook a tiny bit of filling to see if the flavours are right, and then adjust as needed. This way, even without a recipe, the dumplings always come out delicious!
Heat up a small frying pan, add a touch of oil when the pan is hot, and put about one tsp of filling in the pan to cook, turning the filling over to cook on both sides. Try the cooked filling and gauge whether it needs salt or more of the other flavouring, and adjust to your taste. Try another cooked piece of filling again if needed until you’re satisfied with the taste. This is a great way to learn about flavour measurements and balance. The filling can be made ahead of time and refrigerated, or prepare when you’re ready to make the dumplings.
To make the dumplings:
Place a spoonful of the filling in the center of the wrapper. If using fresh dough, simply fold the edges together to form a half moon and pinch the edges together to seal the dumpling. If you want to be fancy, you can pleat the edges together, but this can be time consuming. If using the store-bought wrappers, have a small bowl of water ready to help seal the dumplings. Dip a spoon or your finger in the water, and wet one half of the wrapper to help seal the dumpling together. Pinch the edges together to ensure they are closed.
Place finished dumplings on a baking sheet lined with parchment/wax paper, ensuring they don’t touch one another. Cover completed dumplings with a towel so they don’t dry out.
Quick Tip: To freeze, place raw dumplings on a baking sheet, not touching one another and use parchment/wax paper to ensure they don’t stick to the sheet (or plenty of flour). Let the dumplings freeze for at least 25-30 minutes so that they are individually frozen, and then place them in freezer bags (try to squeeze/suck the air out of the bags before sealing), and back in the freezer. When you’re ready to use them, use them from frozen and either use the boil or pan fry method below.
Cooking the dumplings:
The easiest and healthiest way to cook the dumplings is to boil them. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place dumplings in the water. Don’t overcrowd the pot with dumplings, and cook in batches if needed. Stir the dumplings to ensure they don’t stick to the pot or each other once in awhile. Bring the water back to a boil and once the dumplings float, boil for another three minutes. If cooking dumplings from frozen, allow dumplings to boil for at least six minutes after they have floated to the surface. Remove the dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon or Chinese wire strainer, and place on a plate. Enjoy the dumplings with a dipping sauce.
If you want to get a crispy bite to the dumplings, you can pan fry the boiled dumplings in a well-oiled, heated pan (preferably non-stick). Or for a faster process, place the uncooked/frozen dumplings on a well-oiled, heated non stick fry pan, ensuring the dumplings don’t touch. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pan and cover to steam. If cooking from frozen, double the steaming time for the dumplings, and add more water. Once water has evaporated, keep cooking the dumplings until they get a nice brown bottom, remove from pan and serve.
Have fun and experiment with different sauces to find flavours you enjoy. A traditional sauce is Chinese red wine vinegar with finely julienned ginger. I like to make a dipping sauce by mixing light soy sauce, srirachi sauce and sesame oil. My husband loves to mix sweet chilli sauce with soy sauce.