Man, I was craving dumplings something serious. That delicious savory pork filling with a light onion flavor and a delicious tender chewy dumpling wrapper… dipped in a salty, slightly spicy vinegar sauce. I don’t know about you, but when I eat a really good dumpling it reminds me of being at home in my mother’s kitchen. We did not grow up making or eating dumplings by any means but a really good dumpling (to me anyway) is comfort food. It’s food that speaks to your soul. As you know, we don’t eat out….so I had no other choice but to make them myself. I did a lot research and pulled from my favorite Korean, Chinese and Japanese dumpling recipes to create this recipe.
When we ate them, I think we were both really surprised that these tasted just as good, if not better than the ones we have ordered when eating out. There is tofu in this recipe to add to the tenderness, chives and scallions to add an onion flavor, and napa cabbage for a veg. Of course, there is pork because I couldn’t have a dumpling recipe in my repertoire without pork. I honestly can say that I can’t wait to make these dumplings again. This recipe makes plenty so be prepared to freeze some. This also makes the work of filling them worth it because you can have homemade dumplings whenever you want.
I want these dumpling to become a tradition in our house. I want my son to learn how to fill dumplings and feel a connection to them too. We are not Asian, but I don’t think you have to be from a particular culture or background to appreciate food that can bring people closer together. Phil and I talked and laughed while filling them. It was a good reset. He was horrible at pleating them, so I pleated them and he placed the mixture on the wrappers. If you have a hard time pleating or have never pleated dumplings before (like me) than use this tutorial. By my third dumpling, I started to get pretty good.
The Ultimate Dumplings
1 lb ground pork
3/4 cup Chinese chives, minced
3 scallions, minced
6 ounces firm tofu
2 1/2 cups chopped napa cabbage leaves (no ribs)
1 tbsp shaoxing wine
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp white pepper
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp *Chinese black vinegar (or rice wine vinegar if that is what you have or is easier to find)
1 tbsp crushed toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp of chili oil
2 scallions, minced
1 package of frozen dumpling wrappers, thawed (approx 48)
small bowl filled with water
cornstarch for dusting
neutral flavored cooking oil, such as vegetable oil
Add all dipping sauce ingredients to a small bowl. Stir and set aside.
Combine cabbage and 2 teaspoons of salt to a bowl, stir and transfer to a strainer and let stand for 15 minutes. This will draw out excess liquid in the cabbage.
In a large bowl, add the pork, chives, scallions, tofu, cabbage and seasonings. With your hands, start to mix and break up the ingredients, concentrate on breaking up the tofu into small crumbles. Mix well.
On a flat work surface (like a cutting board) add a teaspoon (don’t over fill) of filling to a dumpling wrapper. Do your best to flatten the filling out. You don’t wan
t a big mound, this makes it harder to seal. Dip your finger into the small bowl of water, wipe your wet finger around the outer rim of the dumpling. Hold the the dumpling upright like a taco, with your index finger and thumb. With your other hand, on the side (away from you) using your fingers, make two pleats on the right side of your index finger and two on the left side of your index finger, enclose the filling and expel as much air out as possible.
Place the finished dumpling (flat side down) on a sheet pan, dusted lightly with corn starch. Complete filling and pleating the remaining wrappers and place them on the sheet pan.
In a large non-stick skillet (one with a lid), add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat on medium-high heat. Once hot, add as many dumplings to the pan, that you plan to eat. Fry for 1-2 minutes, or until the dumplings are nicely browned at the bottom. Add 1/4 cup of water and quickly cover the pan. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes or until cooked through. The dumpling wrappers should be completely translucent. Remove the lid and let any residual water cook out.
Serve hot with dipping sauce.
If you would like to freeze them, place the dumplings on a sheet pan in the freezer and freeze until frozen. Once frozen, place in a freezer bag and return to the freezer.
*Chinese black vinegar has a stronger flavor than rice vinegar. If that scares you than use rice vinegar. I personally love Chinese black vinegar but I definitely think it works best with other bold flavors.