Pork and Cabbage Dumplings
2 cups all-purpose flour
3⁄4 cup warm water
2 cups finely chopped Napa cabbage or regular cabbage
2/3 lb ground pork or turkey (I used turkey here to make it healthier, but pork is more traditional)
1/3 cup minced Shiitake mushrooms (if using dried, soak in hot water for 20 minutes to rehydrate)
1⁄2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp grated ginger
1⁄3 cup chopped Chinese chives or scallions (Chinese chives are the traditional ingredient, but if you don’t like the flavor, you can substitute scallions)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1⁄4 tsp black pepper
1 1⁄2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp oil
1 1⁄2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp rice wine
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 1⁄2 Tbsp rice vinegar
(or 1 Tbsp white vinegar + 1 Tbsp water + 1⁄4 Tbsp sugar)
2 tsp minced garlic
chili oil (optional)
MAKING THE DOUGH
1. Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the water in and stir (either with your hand or with a spoon), evenly moistening the flour. Gently mix until all the lumpy bits have been incorporated. Add more flour or water as necessary. The dough should start looking shaggy and hold its shape when pinched, but it shouldn’t be too moist.
2. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead the dough with the heel of your hand for about 2 minutes. The dough should be nearly smooth and somewhat elastic. Press down on the dough; the impression should slowly bounce back.
3. Smooth out the top of the dough and pinch the ends together on the bottom. Place the dough in a Ziplock bag and let it rest (alternatively, you can put it in a bowl and cover with a plate).
4. Combine all the filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add seasonings and mix well. Use your hands!
5. Remove the dough from the bag and place on a floured surface.
6. Cut the dough into thirds and put two of the thirds back into the bag. Seal completely.
7. Roll the remaining third of the dough into a 1-inch thick log. Cut the log into even pieces, about 3/4 ” thick each. (If the ends of the log are thinner, make those cuts a bit longer, about 1″ thick.) Now here is the trick I learned in the dumpling class: After each cut, rotate the log a quarter turn, so that the dough pieces are pinched in different directions on each side. As you’ll soon see, this is an important step in forming perfectly circular dumpling wrappers!
8. Roll the pieces lightly in flour and then set each piece on one of its cut ends. Flatten each piece of dough with the palm of your hand. Because of the quarter turn when cutting, the dough will naturally flatten into the shape of a circle. How brilliant, right? :) Without the turn, you’d get more of an oval shape, due to the way the knife pinches the dough flat. Then, if you take as much delight in this process as I do, you can simply reshape any pieces that don’t look as perfectly round as they should. :)
9. To roll the wrappers, start with a lightly floured surface. If you’re right-handed like me, hold one of the flattened pieces of dough in your left hand and the wooden rolling pin in your right. You’ll want to roll the rolling pin gently back and forth, while turning the dough in a counter-clockwise motion in your left hand. Roll up about 1/2″ – 1″ in from the edge, avoiding the center of the dough completely. This way, you’ll leave the center a little thicker — perfect for holding the heavy filling — while making the edges a little thinner — perfect for making delicate pleats to seal the top. After the dumplings are folded and the outer edges pressed together, the thicker center will have about the same amount of doughiness as the outer pleated edges. I love how perfectly this all works out. :)
10. Continue rolling until you have about 10 wrappers to work with. You don’t want to roll too many at a time, or else they will start to dry out (unless you have a partner to fill the dumplings while you roll!).
11. Fill your wrappers with about 1 tablespoon of filling. Flatten the filling a bit in the center. Fold using your favorite method! The Beijing method for boiled dumplings is very easy and involves simply folding the wrapper over, and then pinching it shut by holding the edges between thumbs and index fingers of both hands.
At this point, your dumplings are ready to be fried, boiled, steamed, or frozen. I like to make a huge batch of dumplings and freeze them for later use. Be sure to put them on a nonstick tray (lined with freezer paper, or a Silpat mat works well) and space them out individually in the freezer; otherwise they will stick together and be impossible to separate once defrosted. After 30 minutes or more, the dumplings are frozen enough that you can place them all into a Ziploc bag for quick and easy meals. Frozen dumplings do not need to be defrosted before cooking — just add a few minutes of extra cooking time to each of the three methods below.
COOKING THE DUMPLINGS:
3 ways to cook fresh or frozen dumplings
My favorite go-to method for cooking dumplings is in a frying pan. I love the crispy bottoms and tender, steamed tops. Here’s how to get perfectly cooked dumplings every time:
1. Heat up 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a non-stick pan on medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add in the dumplings in a single layer. Arrange them in a circular shape, allowing them to hug one another. Leave about 1/8″ between each dumpling because they will plump up.
2. Let the dumplings fry until the bottoms are golden brown.
3. Add in about 1/3 cup water (until there is about 1/4” of water in the pan) and cover with a lid. Let them steam for about 5-7 minutes, until you hear the dumplings begin to sizzle after all the water has evaporated.
4. Remove the lid. The dumplings should look translucent at this point. Fry just a little bit longer, until the bottoms are crispy again.
5. For a nice presentation, find a plate just slightly smaller than your frying pan. First flip the plate onto the dumplings in the pan, and then invert the pan of dumplings onto the plate.
6. Serve immediately with dipping sauce. Enjoy!
Place dumplings into boiling water. When the dumplings begin to float, cook for an additional 5-6 minutes. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon.
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large wok. Place dumplings into a bamboo steamer basket and place into the wok. Steam for 8 minutes. Serve immediately.