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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Dumplings Made Easy

As I sat down to write this, I had contemplated titling this blog entry as, “Dumplings for Dummies” as a way to convey how simple they are to make. But then I began to wonder if you, dear reader, might feel slighted in some way should you attempt this recipe. It’s not really a recipe for dummies, it’s just really simple to make. My intention here is to de-mystify dumpling making with easy to find ingredients. So hence, dumplings made easy.

Dumplings are a Sunday morning thing for us. On several occasions, we have visited a little place in Chinatown, Mother’s Dumplings for fresh and delicious dumplings. But since we have moved to the other side of the city, we visit it less and less. For those lazy Sunday mornings when our only plan is to watch a couple hours of football in the afternoon, we make dumplings.

They are really easy to make and a great way to shake off the Sunday morning haze. Of course, we gladly eat them anytime of the day (and we have), but when we are not feeling like the usual breakfast fare, we think of dumplings.

Most of the ingredients are thinks we normally have in our fridge (except for maybe the dumpling wrappers) so it is really easy to whip together at a moment’s notice. I call it a master recipe because you can switch out the ingredients as you wish as long as you keep an eye on the proportions.

A word on folding dumplings. I was not born with the dexterity of a master dumpling maker. My mom pinches this and pulls that and with a twist of her wrist, she produces enviable perfect little dumplings. I, on the other hand, still make bunny ears to tie my shoelaces, so I don’t purport to provide you with the technique for perfect dumpling wrapping (I am quite certain you can google this if you're keen), but this is a great and very simple way to make dumplings.

Sunday Morning Dumplings (Master Recipe)

1 lb of extra lean ground beef / chicken (or mixture with minced raw shrimp)
2 stalks green onions, finely minced
1 thumb-sized ginger, finely grated
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp cooked vegetables, minced (examples: spinach, mushrooms, savoy cabbage, carrots)

1 package of Shanghai dumpling wrappers / wonton wrappers*

1. Mix all the ingredients together except for the last ingredients. Mix well to incorporate, but do not over mix. To check for seasoning, make a small meatball and drop into a pot of boiling water, when it floats to the surface and starts to bob around, remove it with a slotted spoon. When cool enough, taste the meatball and adjust your seasonings.
2. Fill a small dish with a little warm water.
3. Using a teaspoon, scoop the filling onto the center of the wrapper. Dip your finger into the water and wetting the edges of the half side of the wrapper. Fold into half with the wet edge affixed to the dry edge to form a triangle or semi-circle (depending on the shape of your wrapper.)

4. Place on a dry plate, cover with a damp towel.
5. Repeat as necessary, keeping the dumplings covered under the towel.
6. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to boil. Once a rolling boil is achieved, carefully drop dumplings in one by one in small batches (depending on the size of your pot – 6 -12.) Don't be tempted to add too many to the pot as it will lower the temperature of the water and will take longer to return the water to boiling temperature. Give the dumplings a quick stir to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. Once the dumplings start to float to the top and the water is boiling again, scoop them out with a slotted soup into a deep bowl.
7. Serve with chilli soy dipping sauce (recipe below)

Alternatively, you can steam the dumplings. Lay down a leaf of cabbage over a steamer and place dumplings on top. Steam until the wrapper turns from opaque toward translucent.

To make pot stickers, heat oil in a large, deep fry pan and carefully add dumplings and cook until the outside is crisp and slightly brown. Add about ½ c of water to the pan. Partially cover and steam, until the water is evaporated and the bottom side is crisp.

Chilli Soy Dipping Sauce

This is a recipe I base on proportion:

1 part acid (malt vinegar, lime juice)
2 parts soy sauce
1 part chilli sauce (sriracha, chilli garlic sauce, whatever you have)
splash sesame oil

Mix together and serve with dumplings.

*dumpling wrappers are either round or square. (We have used wonton wrappers but they are much thinner and lend themselves better as part of a soup. If you are looking to make this, try to look for Shanghai dumpling wrappers. You can find dumpling wrappers in the grocery store, usually in the refrigerator section in the vegetable aisle in most grocery stores – at least in Toronto. Most Asian supermarkets will have them as well.)


V said...

What's the difference between shanghai dumpling wrappers and the normal one? How timely. I'm making dumplings this weekend (to give ourselves some festive and chinese feeling for CNY :p).

Hungry Gal said...

@ V

we will be making these for CNY, too.

I am not a dumpling wrapper expert - but it is my observation that Shanghai dumpling wrappers are thicker and are made with a different type of flour. These wrappers are white and round. Far more sturdy and hearty.

Wonton wrappers are very thin and look practically translucent when cooked. These are sold in squares. (the photos shown are wonton wrappers)

maplekiwi said...

I made your dumplings/wontons for CNY and they were a hit with my friends. I made them with wonton wrappers and shallow fried them. They were very tasty and I had many requests for the recipe. Thanks Hungry Gal

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the step by step! I totally thought this was a lot harder than it actually was. Excited to create my own dumplings now!

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