Dumplings are my go-to comfort food. There is something homey and comforting about a fresh plate of boiled or fried dumplings. For those who work with me in the corporate world, you know how much I love bullet point lists, so here are my top 3 reasons why dumplings are the ultimate food:
- Affordable – You can go to Chinatown and get 12 dumplings for <$5. That’s less than half the price of Chipotle with none of the E Coli.
- Real, Simple Ingredients – Real meats and vegetables (I think?) are used! Taco Bell has a similar price point, but that’s only because rat tails and furby beaks are mixed in to their ground beef
- Filling – I am stuffed after 12 dumplings. I love cheap pizza slices and it has a similar price point and also uses real, simple ingredients, but honestly it’s mostly empty carbs and you barely get sauce and cheese on those slices!
Making dumplings is also
an excuse a way to reconnect with my culture.
For context in the video above, the kids are attending Saturday “Chinese School” **shudders** which my parents also forced me to attend when I was growing up (yes my adolescence were spent attending school 6 out of 7 days). The teacher is saying “we have 3 new students in our class today…answer the second section of each question…you look confused, do you need help?” Then I fell down a bad rabbit hole of watching other relatable Fresh Off the Boat clips.
True story, the dishwasher was used solely as a drying rack growing up. I actually had no idea how to use a dishwasher until after I graduated college and my roommate had to show me how to properly load soap into a dishwasher.
True story, Chinese people can be polite to the point it’s rude and obnoxious. When multiple families go out for dinner, I have seen screaming and shouting matches over who has the “honor” of paying the entire bill at the end. According to my girlfriend, Indian people do the same thing.
FYI this recipe is for pork and chive and vegetable dumplings, but you can make dumplings with any filling you want1. I made a mushroom and Gruyere dumpling once and it was pretty decent. I also have no idea how to make dumpling wrappers from scratch2. Some people do and that’s great. I am not one of those people.
1 I’ve seen some definitely not traditional Chinese-style of stuffing such as: philly cheese steak, lobster cream cheese, and grilled cheese-tomato soup (Chinese people don’t really eat cheese)
2 I don’t think it’s that hard…all you need is flour, water, a rolling pin, and patience
Pork and Chive Filling
- Ground Pork
- Bell Pepper
- Napa Cabbage
- Oyster Sauce*
- Sesame Oil
- Soy Sauce
- Dumpling Wrappers*
- Salt and Pepper
Optional Dipping Sauces
- Chinkiang Vinegar*
- Chili Bean Paste & Chili Oil Sauce*
* You may need to go to your local Chinatown grocery store for these ingredients. However, you may want to go to a Chinatown grocery store for ALL these ingredients anyways. Produce is so fucking cheap there!
I mean look at this receipt. I got all my ingredients for under $25! $0.38/lb for carrots?! $0.99/lb for bell pepper?! My god. But here’s the most egregious savings. I bought fresh chives for $1.99 per pound. I live in Brooklyn and thought my local grocery store would carry bulk, fresh chives. Nope. The only chives I found were these packaged “organic” chives (but it looked soft and yellow. Definitely not fresh…organic liars!) for $4.99 per 1.5 ounces ($50+ per pound) and immediately thought GTFO with this artisanal shit.
This recipe will be in three components: making the filling, folding the dumpling, and cooking the dumpling. This post’s cooking jamz is brought to you by The xx.
Song – Intro
For pork and chives, mince garlic and ginger, and finely chop chives. Combine in a large mixing bowl with ground pork.
For vegetarian, finely chop mushroom and bell pepper, and grate carrot. Lightly saute over medium heat, and cool and drain. Mince garlic and ginger, and finely chop napa cabbage and chives. Combine all vegetables in a large mixing bowl.
Add ~2 tablespoon of soy sauce, ~1 tablespoon of sesame oil, minced garlic and ginger, and salt and pepper to taste (easy on the salt since other ingredients like soy sauce already have a good amount of sodium). Add ~a half cup oyster sauce until the filling changes to a darkish-pinkish hue. If it is helpful, the photo on the left is pre-sauces and the photo on the right is post-sauces.
On to folding dumplings! If you are a newbie, then you will want to use only a little filling scoop (photo on the left). If you are a pro (or stupidly ambitious), then you will want to use a big filling scoop (photo on the right), but also if you are already a pro then why are you reading this? By the way, I am right-handed, so everything illustrated from here on out will be for right-handed people. If you are left-handed, then reverse everything here.
Song – I Dare You
Hold the dumpling in your left palm. Dip your right index finger in water and dab a half-circle along the outer part of the dumpling shell.
Song – I Dare You
Here’s the tricky fold part. I’ll do my best to explain over written text, but it’s definitely better to follow in the video above. Using your left thumb and left index finger, pinch the left end of the dumpling. Grab the dumpling wrapper with your right thumb and right index finger and fold over the pinch. Pinch down two times moving towards the right side with your left thumb and left index finger. Make sure to push down the filling and push out any air…we do not want air bubbles in the dumpling! Repeat this process until you get to the right end, which should make about 5 folds (insert Ben Folds pun).
Note, you will most likely terriblly mess this up if this is your first time folding dumplings. Don’t get discouraged though, keep trying! If you do give up…you can use the ravioli technique by folding over and pressing a fork down.
Repeat step 5 until you have made enough dumplings to your heart’s content. Every time I make a batch of filling, I end up making them ~100-200 dumplings. It’s very therapeutic for me because it’s a very mindless, repetitive task (sort of like sewing, but you get to eat a scarf at the end). Anyways, you can freeze the excess dumplings by putting them uncovered in the freezer for ~10 minutes and then put them in a sealed plastic bag. Do not expose the dumplings in the freezer too long, because then the skin will crack.
Song – Islands
Now we are ready to cook the dumplings! We can dumplings two ways: boiling and frying. To boil dumplings, you drop dumplings into a salted, boiling pot of water for ~5-10 mins (~10-15 mins if frozen). This is a simple, easy, and quick method, but unfortunately doesn’t make for a great blog content, so instead here’s how to pan fry them! Pour olive oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium heat. Place the dumplings in a circular pattern.
Song – Intro
Fry until the dumplings get a golden-brown crust. Then add water until the water covers the dumplings by a quarter to a third. Turn to high heat and cover. Cook until the water has evaporated. If you are cooking frozen dumplings, you will need to repeat the water, cover process 3 times.
You can serve immediately and use chinkiang vinegar or soy sauce as your dipping sauce. However, I like to toss the fried dumplings in a large mixing bowl and coat with a chili bean paste & chili oil sauce. Garnish with green onion.