Dumplings are so damn good. They just are. One of my favorite kinds is the pork and chives dumplings. I can devour on soup dumplings, fried dumplings, boiled dumplings any time of the day. Give me a whole mess of them, and I'll be a happy camper chowing them down quitely in a corner.
Growing up, dumplings are not something my mom would make often. I know Chinese in the North eats dumplings as a staple, and many children learn how to make dumplings from a young age (Im talking about real young, like 5-year-olds). So clearly I got tons of tricks to learn still when it comes to dumpling making. What's the difference between dumplings and wontons, you may ask? Well, the simple answer would be that dumplings are white in color, made with round wrappers, and can be made with any kinds of meat and vegetable you wish. Wontons (雲吞) on the other hand is often made with pork and shrimp, the wrapper could be white or yellow in color, and is thinner and square in shape.
There're so many different kind of dumplings, and generally speaking they're all called jiao zi (餃子) in Mandarin, or shui jiao (水餃) which means boiled dumplings. The pork and chives filling is very common when it comes to Chinese dumplings.
Dumplings that are boiled are usually served with broth but only the dumplings are expected to be eaten and not the broth. You can eat them plain but I think most people like to dip them in common sauces like soy sauce, red vinegar, black vinegar, chili oil or chili sauce. While boiled dumplings are soft and comforting, pan-fried dumplings can be crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. It's rare that I'd make anything less than twenty dumplings at once. I love freezing a whole mess of them as they're quick to thaw and cook, healthier and way cheaper than the store-bought frozen ones. I've also seen dumplings being filled with ingredients like chicken, shitake mushroom, shrimp, bok choy, or fish. Different local culture adapts the recipe differently. It might seem time-consuming the first couple times you make dumplings but it's fun, and you'll soon get better and better at it.
What do you say? Wanna make some dumplings this weekend?
Pork and Chives Dumplings (韭菜餃子)
Prep time: 5 mins Cook time: 50 mins Total time: 55 mins
- About 30-35 dumpling wrappers
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 cup of finely sliced Chinese chives (韭菜), discard the root (white) part
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Shaoxing Chinese rice wine
- 1/2 tsp white pepper powder
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- Mix together ground pork with the already sliced chives, along with seasoning. Let it marinate for 15 minutes at room temperature.
- Damp a paper towel and cover the wrappers when they’re not in use so they don’t dry out. Set a small bowl of water in your work station.
- Line a cookie sheet with tinfoil. This is where dumplings would go once they’re wrapped.
- Most dumpling wrappers have flour on one side and smooth on the other. With the flour side down, scoop about one tablespoon of filling onto the center of the wrapper. Dip your finger in some water, then run it through half of the outskirt of the wrapper. Fold the dumpling in half by pinching the top, then make 3-4 pleats on each side. A completed dumpling should sit easily by itself.
For boiling, heat a pot of water with some salt. Drop the dumplings in when water is almost boiling. Let it cook for about 4 minutes, or until dumplings have flowed to the top.
For pan-frying, add oil to a hot pan, cook dumplings for about 2 minutes. Then add 1/4″ of water to the pan, cover, and steam for another 3 minutes (water may evaporate quickly so keep an eye on it and add more if needed).
- Serve immediately with sauce of your choice.
For freezing dumplings, line tinfoil on a cookie sheet, then lay dumplings flat on top. Wrap the entire cookie sheet with plastic wrap, and freeze until dumplings are very firm. Then transfer dumplings to a big ziplock bag.