Ever Wanted to know How to Make Dumplings? Find Out First
Ever wanted to make dumplings at home but doesn’t know how?
This easy recipe will show you how to make dumplings that taste just like the ones from your favorite dumplings joint.
Dumplings is a staple dish served during Chinese Lunar New Year in Northern China.
They are auspicious because they resemble gold ingots and are said to bring prosperity and fortune in the coming year.
Not only are dumplings a favourite during the Chinese New Year, they are also enjoyed throughout the year, everywhere in the country.
You can order them at dumpling joints and most Northern Chinese restaurants.
They are also easy to make at home. Let me show you how!
Before we start, let’s make some distinctions.
You see, not all dumplings are created the same.
Here in Shanghai, soup dumplings, or 汤包 (tāng bāo), seem to be the dumpling of choice for locals and tourist alike.
They are known for being super juicy hence the name “soup” dumplings.
Other varieties of dumplings include Sheng Jian, or 生煎 (shēng jiān), which is another Shanghainese specialty.
Pot stickers, or 锅贴 (guō tiē) is the pan-fried version. And there are many others!
The type of dumplings we are going to make today is boiled dumplings, or 水饺 (shuǐ jiǎo), which is the most common version to make at home. It’s also a great beginner recipe.
To make the dumplings, you need two things: the wrapper and the fillings. Both can be made from scratch or bought pre-made at supermarkets.
To make this recipe beginner friendly, we will only make the fillings from scratch and will use the pre-made wrappers.
Step 1 – Preparing the Wrappers
You can use any store-bought dumpling wrappers for this recipe.
Although the quality and texture of the wrappers might vary from one store to another, most of them get the job done. Look for 水饺皮 (shuǐ jiǎo pí) on the packaging or something that looks similar to the image.
If you are up for a challenge and want to also make the wrappers from scratch, here is a detailed blog post on how to do it.
And here is a short Youtube tutorial if you want to get a quick head start.
Step 2 – Preparing the Filling
There are many different combinations of dumpling fillings.
The most popular ones being Chinese chives with pork, 韭菜猪肉 (jiǔ cài zhū ròu); Chinese celery with pork 芹菜猪肉 (qín cài zhū ròu); Chinese cabbage with pork, 白菜猪肉 (bái cài zhū ròu); and three fresh delicacies, 三鲜 (sān xiān), which is a three-ingredient filling with pork, shrimp and a vegetable of choice.
The sky is the limit when it comes to what to put inside the dumplings.
In this recipe, we will use Chinese celery with pork as our filling.
Here are the ingredients you need:
- 250 grams of ground pork
- 500 grams of Chinese celery
- A small piece of ginger
- A handful of green onions
- Soy sauce
- Chinese cooking wine
If you can, choose ground pork with more fat. This will give you juicer dumplings. But of course, this is completely up to you.
To prepare the filling…
- Thoroughly wash and mince the Chinese celery
- Put the minced Chinese celery into a bowl, add salt, and let it sit for 5-10 minutes
- Wash and mince ginger and green onions
- In a large bowl, combine the ginger and green onions with ground pork
- Add a pinch of salt, a splash of soy sauce, and a splash of Chinese cooking wine
- Mix the pork and the aromatics with your hand in one direction
- Take the minced Chinese celery out from the bowl, squeeze out about 80% of the water, and add to the large bowl with pork
- Use your hand to combine the pork mixture and minced Chinese celery together
- Let the filling sit for 20 minutes to marinate either in room temperature or in the fridge
Step 3 – Folding the Dumplings
Now, this is probably the trickiest part for most people.
At least it was for me when I first started making dumplings. I remember the first time I made dumplings, they looked like a row of ugly ducklings.
But overtime, they started to look better. And now they look pretty decent.
So don’t worry if your dumplings don’t come out perfect the first time, second time, or even the fifth time.
It will get easier over time. As long as your dumplings are sealed, you’re off to a great start.
Before you start, make sure you have the wrappers, filling, and a glass of water in front of you.
Here is how you fold the dumplings:
- Take a piece of dumpling wrapper
- Scoop about a spoonful of filling to the center of the wrapper
- Dip your fingers into the water and draw along the edge of the wrapper
- Now fold the wrapper in half and pinch the top edge
- Hold the dumplings between the index finger and thumb of both hands
- Make a pleat on each side with your index fingers
- Squeeze with your thumbs and index fingers to seal
- Repeat step 6 and 7 a few more times
- Give the edge a final pinch to seal
- Place the finished dumplings on a large plate and repeat
Here is a video on different ways to fold a dumpling
Pro Tip: It’s very important that the plate is completely dry. Moisture can make the dumpling wrappers more prone to breaking during cooking. To prevent this, you can sprinkle some flour on the plate before putting dumplings on it.
Step 4 – Cooking the Dumplings
The most common mistake when cooking dumplings is overcooking. When this happens, the dumplings end up soggy and shapeless.
Here is a fool-proof, tried-and-trusted method to have perfectly cooked and plump dumplings every time.
- To start, prepare a pot of water to boil
- Once the water is boiling, add the dumplings and wait for it to boil again
- When the pot is boiling, add about ½ cup of room-temperature water into the pot and wait for it to boil again.
- Repeat step 3 and 4 two more times
- When the water is boiling after you’ve added water 3 times, turn off the heat
- Remove the dumplings from the pot with a strainer
Step 5 – Enjoying the Dumplings
At this point, your dumplings are basically ready to eat. However, dumplings are typically enjoyed with a dipping sauce.
You can certainly enjoy the dumplings with plain soy sauce. But if you want to enjoy the dumplings like the locals of Shanghai, you will need the following:
- 4 tablespoons of black vinegar, or 镇江醋 (zhèn jiāng cù)
- 2 tablespoons of thinly sliced ginger strips
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
Mix the ingredients in a small bowl or saucer.
That completes this recipe. I hope you can give this a try at home.
This also makes for a fun activity to do at home if you have kiddos. Enjoy!
How to Make Dumplings – FAQ’s
No, not all dumplings are created the same. There are many different types of dumpling which can be cooked in many different ways including boiled or fried.
Yes many dumplings in China have just vegetarian fillings meaning dumplings cater for vegetarians in China.
The most popular ones in China include Chinese chives with pork, 韭菜猪肉 (jiǔ cài zhū ròu); Chinese celery with pork 芹菜猪肉 (qín cài zhū ròu); Chinese cabbage with pork, 白菜猪肉 (bái cài zhū ròu); and three fresh delicacies, 三鲜 (sān xiān), which is a three-ingredient filling with pork, shrimp and a vegetable of choice.
If you want to make pork and celery dumplings for example, you would need the following:
250 grams of ground pork
500 grams of Chinese celery
A small piece of ginger
A handful of green onions
Chinese cooking wine
1 – To start, prepare a pot of water to boil
2 – Once the water is boiling, add the dumplings and wait for it to boil again.
3 – When the pot is boiling, add about ½ cup of room-temperature water into the pot and wait for it to boil again,
4 – Repeat step 3 and 4 two more times,
5 – When the water is boiling after you’ve added water 3 times, turn off the heat
6 – Remove the dumplings from the pot with a strainer
1 – Take a piece of dumpling wrapper
2 – Scoop about a spoonful of filling to the center of the wrapper
3 – Dip your fingers into the water and draw along the edge of the wrapper
4 – Now fold the wrapper in half and pinch the top edge
5 – Hold the dumplings between the index finger and thumb of both hands
6 – Make a pleat on each side with your index fingers
7 – Squeeze with your thumbs and index fingers to seal
8 – Repeat step 6 and 7 a few more times
9 – Give the edge a final pinch to seal
10 – Place the finished dumplings on a large plate and repeat
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