Posted on Apr 16, 2013
Finally, nearly a week later and after working several days, I have time to post about my first adventure making homemade dumplings.
Though I’ve been making Asian dumplings for several years now, I had always just used packaged wonton wrappers. They were thin but otherwise fine. This time, however, I decided to take the next step and make my own dough. I can’t believe I waited so long to do it, for it was surprisingly easy and the dumplings tasted so much better. Unlike the thin store bought wrappers, this dough made a slightly chewy and light dumpling. The only downside is that it takes time. One batch of dough made about 15-17 dumplings. To feed my family, I had to make 3 batches. Of course, I made two kinds of dumplings. Pork (which I will share here) and vegetarian and served both as the main, and only, course. If you were serving them as an appetizer or side, one batch, I suppose could be enough (though I challenge anyone to make these and not eat more than just a few dumplings. It’s not possible).
A fair warning before I begin: I have not yet perfected the art of making dumplings. I needed a lot of help from other blogs and cookbooks. I will describe what I did and include the blog and cookbook that helped me the most. It is my goal to perfect the art of Asian dumplings, so expect more blog posts throughout the year.
The Pork Filling
I first learned how to make dumplings, several years ago, from following Tyler Florence’s method in his cookbook Real Kitchen. I have since then adapted his recipe and developed my own method, which I’ve done with both ground pork and ground chicken. I still often refer back to his original recipe, though, for inspiration.
Begin by placing the following ingredients in a food processor:
1/4 pound of shiitake mushrooms, roughly chopped and stems removed
5 green onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tablespoon of ginger, grated with a microplane (eyeball it)
a large handful of fresh cilantro
Process all of the above ingredients until they are finely chopped.
In a large bowl, place:
1 pound of ground pork (I used pork from Oink Moo Cluck.)
Add the above ingredients, along with:
1 egg white
2 teaspoons of cornstarch
1 tablespoon of tamari or other good quality soy sauce
2 teaspoons of dry sherry
a pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper
Using your hands, work all of the ingredients into the pork. Don’t over work the pork. Mix just enough for all of the ingredients to be incorporated. Set aside
The instructions below are for one batch of dough. The pork recipe above would require two batches. I recommend making each batch one at a time, for a double batch would be hard to work with.
Begin by putting 2 cups of flour in a food processor. While you pulse the flour, add 1/2 – 3/4 cup of boiling water. (The original recipe I used called for 1/2 cup, but I found that I needed more water). Keep pulsing until the water is incorporated. The flour should be moist enough to form a ball when you press it together. If it is too dry, add more boiling water. Once the flour is moist enough, dump the flour onto the counter, knead it for a couple minutes, and form it into a ball. Keep it under a damp cloth until ready to use.
To Form the Dumplings
This next part I still need to perfect. It’s difficult to describe, and I recommend checking out this blog to see step by step photos on how to cut and fold the dumplings: http://userealbutter.com/2007/10/04/chinese-dumplings-and-potstickers-recipe/
Here is my attempt to describe the process. Perhaps in future posts, once I master the art, I will provide step by step photos as well.
Sprinkle flour on the counter. Cut the dough into four slices. Roll each slice into a cylinder and then cut the cylinder into discs about 1 inch thick. The size of each disc determines how large the dumpling will be. My boyfriend and I had to try several different sizes until we got it right. Flatten each disc with your fingers and palm of your hand or a rolling pin to form the dumpling skin. Fill each skin with some of the pork mixture. Allow 1/2 inch margin around the pork. To fold, bring two opposing ends of the dough together (like a taco). Fold one side of the dough towards the center and then pinch it with the other side of dough to form a pleat. Repeat this folding and pinching motion until one half of the dumpling is sealed and has pleats. Repeat with the other side of the dumpling.
Make sense? No, probably not, but I will explain more in future posts. For now, some photos:
(Don’t make the mistake I made in the below photo! Flour the counter before you put the dough down.)
My boyfriend was particularly proud of the pleats on this one. I was impressed:
How to Cook the Dumplings
My boyfriend and I tried two methods. Some we pan fried and some we steamed. Though the steamed dumplings were good, we both loved the texture and crunch of the seared dumplings. I will explain both methods.
Place the dumplings in a bamboo steamer lined with cabbage leaves. Fill a large pot or wok with just enough water to cover the bottom inch of the steamer. Bring the water to a boil and place the steamer in the water. Let the dumplings steam for about 6-7 minutes.
To Pan Fry:
Place a couple of tablespoons of vegetable or safflower oil in a large flat bottomed pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the dumplings. Sear until the bottoms began to turn brown. Then add 1/2 cup of water. Brace yourself and have a lid ready. The oil will splatter, so be sure to quickly place the lid on the pan as soon as you add the water. Let the dumplings steam until all of the water has cooked down. To serve, place the dumplings on a plate and then place another plate, upside down, on top of the dumplings. Flip the plates so that the dumplings are seared side up. Enjoy. Savor and serve with your favorite Asian dipping sauces (and try not to eat them all at once!).