Tuesday, 22 October 2013 22:37

How to make Chinese dumplings in 4 easy steps

The beauty of knowing how to make Chinese dumplings

Your life will never be the same once you’ve learned how to make Chinese dumplings. The great news is: it is not as difficult as you may think – just be prepared for some ‘oddly shaped’ ones to start off with, relax and have some fun.

As always, don’t let any recipe cramp your style. If all fails, you can buy ready-made wrappers at your local Asia shop. The beauty of dumplings is the freeze beautifully so once you’ve learned how to make Chinese dumplings, prepare a large batch you’ll be able to surprise friends and family on several occasions.

In northern China making dumplings is particularly popular on New Year’s Eve. They are eaten after midnight – often a gold or silver coin is hidden in one of them.

The art of how to make Chinese dumplings

has been perfected there for over a thousand years. They may be round, crescent shaped, boiled, pan fried or both with fillings ranging from sweet to savory, meaty or vegetarian.

Common fillings include pork, mutton, beef, chicken, fish and shrimp often mixed with chopped vegetables. Vegetable fillings often include cabbage spring onion, leek and garlic chives. Of course you can add pretty much any vegetable. I often use carrots, Chinese cabbage and Shitake mushrooms.

Dumplings are eaten with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce that may include vinegar, garlic, ginger, rice wine, hot sauce, and sesame oil see some sauce ideas below.

How to make Chinese dumplings – step 1: the dough

Make a dough out of 3 cups all purpose flour, about 1.5 cups of warm water, ½ teaspoon salt. You can even make colored ones by replacing some of the water with spinach, carrot or beet juice/broth. (yields about 30 dumplings)

Knead until smooth then pull off golf-ball sized pieces and roll into round shapes. Alternatively you can roll out as bigger piece of dough and cut rounds with a glass – see which you prefer/is easier for you.

How to make Chinese dumplings – step 2: the filling

You can basically chop any vegetables you like and season with salt and pepper (preferably white) and  a few drops of sesame oil (optional)

My personal favorite filling is made with:

  • 1 onion (preferably red), sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushroom (the dried and then soaked kind works well)
  • 1 cup white cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup chopped garlic sprouts or chives
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Sautee everything for 3-4 minutes then let cool.

How to make Chinese dumplings – step 3: the folding:

dumpling 1

Now put one of your rounds in the palm of your hand, put a spoon of filling and start folding ‘pleads’ towards the center. When finished pinch together at the top. This may take a bit of practice but is lots of fun.

Here a video on how to fold them  - this particular one is for the Mongolian version called Buuz (really the same thing). Obviously disregard the filling but it shows the proper ‘twist’ beautifully.  Once you get the hang of it it’ll actually become quite hypnotic and you may just get addicted to the ‘plead & twist’ of dumpling making.

Next you either boil them gently for about 10 minutes or if you have a pot with a steaming inset, steam them. When the dough is soft (but not soggy) remove from water/steam, let dry for a few minutes and then fry the bottoms golden brown and crispy in a frying pan. You can skip the frying part if you like.

dumpling 3 b How to make Chinese dumplings dumpling 3

How to make Chinese dumplings – step 4: the sauces

Your options are endless and you can easily create your own. Here some ideas:

Plum sauce: 1 cup plum jam, 1 tablespoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, 1 pinch of garlic salt, 1/3 – 1/2 cup of water (depending on how thick the jam is)

Preparation:  Mix the ingredients together well. Bring to a boil on low heat. Cool the sauce and store in a jar in the refrigerator. Use within a few days.

Ginger sauce: 1/4 cup light soy sauce, 2 teaspoons minced ginger, a pinch of white pepper, sesame oil to taste

Preparation: Combine all the ingredients. Serve as a dipping sauce or pour over noodles or rice.

Sweet & sour sauce: 1/3 cup white or rice vinegar (Note: rice vinegar gives better results), 4 tablespoons brown sugar,1 tablespoon ketchup, 1 teaspoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 4 teaspoons water

Preparation: Combine all the ingredients. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 1 hour to give the flavors a chance to blend.

Garlic – ginger sauce: 3 tablespoons light soy sauce, 3 tablespoons dark soy sauce, 3 tablespoons red wine or red rice vinegar,1 teaspoon hot chili oil, 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, or to taste, 1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped, 1 teaspoon minced ginger

Preparation: Combine all the ingredients. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 1 hour to give the flavors a chance to blend.

And now that you know how to make Chinese dumplings – have fun playing!

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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