Chinese Dumpling Recipe, Revisited

It’s been a really long time since I last made Chinese dumplings. I got a craving for them this weekend, and decided to get all the supplies I needed… and blocked off an afternoon to do all the prep and cooking.

The process is a long one, and always takes a good while. The dumplings are a childhood favorite, though I’m convinced I never quite get the recipe exactly right. It’s always a process of estimation, every time.

Basic ingredients are some bok choy, a package of breakfast sausage, a pound of ground pork, some green onions, ginger, some soy sauce… and a whole lot of flour.

Quick self-portrait, since this is what I did the last time I made this. No beer this time around, just coffee.

It’s weird (and a little embarrassing) to look back on that older post, almost nine years later. I look so young, and the writing is so markedly different from now.

Well, at least I hope it is…

So, step one is to take some flour and mix it with equal parts cold and hot water. I’m convinced there’s got to be some kind of better approach to making this dough, but these were the instructions I was given by my mom.

I wasn’t told any specific amount: just flour, and add cold + hot water. If it looks too mushy, add more flour; if it looks too lumpy and solid, add more water. Eventually, it should be a semi-sticky ball like this. Set it aside for now.

Chop up about three leaves from the bok choy. Remember that you’re adding this to the inside of a dumpling, so dice ’em up well. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Mix about 3/4 of the pork with 3/4 of the breakfast sausage together. Add in the bok choy, along with two green onions. If you want, add a splash of soy sauce and some salt.

This is the lengthiest part of the whole process – working with the dough. Here’s what I did:

I took a small bit of the dough and rolled it into a log. Then, I cut off 1/2 inch segments. After rolling those by hand into little balls, I took a rolling pin and flattened each piece out into a circle.

Don’t worry if these aren’t perfectly round.

When you’re ready, take a small spoon and add a bit of the meat to the rolled out dough. The temptation will be to add a ton of meat here, but try to avoid that as it will take longer to cook… and it ups the chance the dumpling will break, later.

Pinch the tip together. Then, slowly pinch from the center to each edge, sealing the dough between your fingers.

When you’re done, it should look something like this. I’m always reminded of a Stegosaurus.

Here’s the first batch. This took me maybe 30 minutes to make. Very slow, and very time-consuming.

I know there are wonton wrappers out there, but those I always found to be super thin. Too thin for my liking. Truth be told, I haven’t really explored this very much. If I found some other option for the dough, I might be inclined to make this more often… as the kneading and rolling is the longest part of the whole process.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then add in the dumplings. When I asked my mom how long I should cook them, I was told to let the water come to a boil… then pour in cold water. Do this three times, and they’re ready.

I was incredulous when I first heard these instructions, but this is how she was taught to make them. It sounded crazy to me, until I came across a package of frozen dumplings… and the package had the exact same directions on the back. Seriously.

To make the soy sauce, pour a generous amount into a small bowl. Chop up some green onions and a few slivers of ginger, and mix them in. Then… head up some vegetable oil on the stove, and get it pretty hot. Pour the oil into the soy sauce, and it should make a small sizzling sound.

Then, when the dumplings are ready… put them in a bowl, add the soy sauce, and you’re done!

Chinese Dumpling Recipe, 2002
The 3-Cup-Of-Water Serving Directions

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Happy to see this. About a year ago, my Chinese brother in law got me a copy of the Asian Dumpling Cookbook. If you’re interested in dumplings, I’d definitely recommend it. It’s an extraordinary book and it contains remarkable refinements, measurements, and tips. For example, a narrow rolling pin works best. The one I have is a dowel about an inch in diameter, much faster. Once you get the rhythm, you become a machine. Much, much more… I still haven’t made the Shanghai soup dumplings, that’s next on my list.

    Alex Reply

  2. Could you roll out all the dough and cut out circles? Then re-roll the remaining dough and repeat? Or is it necessary to ball it and roll each ball out individually? That might save time. Either way, the result looks delicious. : O )

    Marty J. Reply

  3. This is a ridiculously simple and straightforward solution that just never crossed my mind. I will definitely have to give this approach a try, the next time I make these again!

    avoision Reply

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