Stella, May I know how you make dumplings?

10:31 PM Stella May 0 Comments

Chinese New Year is on Monday, February 8, 2016. So to prepare for the new year, it is traditional to have dumplings the night before. Making and eating dumplings is said to bring longevity and wealth to your family. Dumplings are shaped like gold ingots, which was an early form of Chinese currency. For today's Tutorial Tuesday I thought I would share how I make dumplings! 
What you will need: 
L-R: ground pork shoulder, shrimp, Chinese chives, dumpling skins, napa cabbage, salt and pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, garlic powder, and black vinegar. 
Starting with the shrimp. You could take the easy, convenient way and just buy peeled and deveined, but I like to use the shells for a quick shrimp stock and because of the obvious cost-savings. 
Butterfly the shrimp. Carefully pinch the shrimp and cut the long side. After preparing the shrimps, set them aside and work on the other filling ingredients. 
In the "what you will need" picture, there was a really big bunch of chives. You clearly don't need that much. That is unless you are making lots and lots of dumplings. Come back next Tutorial Tuesday for a recipe that uses the rest of the Chinese chives up for breakfast or a hearty snack! 
Since my family has been making this, we have never followed a strict recipe. We just added as much of any ingredient until it looked right. I would say approximately: 1½ pounds ground pork, 2 cups finely chopped chives, 1 tablespoon garlic powder, 2½ tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, 1 tablespoon black vinegar, hefty pinches of salt and pepper) 
When choosing the type of ground pork, select one that is on the fattier side. In the picture above, the pork we used was on the lean side resulting in a drier filling. 
Now that might look quite sad, but this is the best method I have for tasting your filling before you wrap the dumplings! Spoon out a filling sized portion and pan fry it! I had the heat a little too high here and it browned a bit. Cook your little filling over a medium heat for a few minutes and taste it! 
In this batch we ended up adding more soy sauce, garlic powder, and salt. I seem to always add more salt, but that's okay! I would much rather be overly conservative on the first round of seasoning the filling than over seasoning. You could always add more later. You should also keep in mind that if you are dipping your dumplings in soy sauce to not over salt this mixture. 
Also as you can see, I didn't add the napa cabbage. This is where Mister and I disagreed. He claimed that he never makes it with the cabbage and only the chives, but I find that a the cabbage brings a more delicate flavor to the dumpling. We should have made different batches and tested both ways, but alas I used all the ground pork with the chives. 
Another big tip is to have the dumpling skins at room temperature when you start the wrapping. So start by picking up the skin and dust off the excess flour. This little step will aid in wrapping. Add a little bit of pork/chive seasoned filling and half a shrimp. I like to add the shrimp separately (rather than chop it up into the pork), this allows every dumpling to have shrimp. As you can see half a shrimp is plenty for one dumpling. While you could just buy smaller shrimp and not have to butterfly them, when you have split, larger shrimp, the shrimp will be able to span the entire dumpling. This is a nice feature if you eat your dumplings in bites, but if you just gobble down the entire dumpling then go ahead and use smaller shrimp. 
Next, use a finger and wet the outer edge of the dumping. This will act as the glue to seal your dumpling. 
Pinch two opposing sides. 
Then grabbing from one side of the dumping, create folds and pinch them down. As you fold one side, you are asymmetry as one side is longer and one side is shorter. Because you are shortening just one side, this creates the crescent shape. When you have a crescent shape, it will create a flat bottom for a optimal frying surface. 
When you get the the end, create a little pocket and fold in the end. This will make one last fold. 
One side down, start folding and pinching the other side now. As you can see, you want to fold and pinch towards the middle point. This will make them look more uniform, and thus cook more uniformly. 
Lastly, give it a good last pinch to really seal everything in. 
Place them on a floured surface so they don't stick and start making the next one! If you are making dumplings with family or friends, this wrapping process will be much faster if you work together. Each member would be in charge of one step and then pass it on. (placing filling on wrapper, wetting the wrapper, sealing the dumpling) That's what we do in my family and my dad was the best/fastest at the pinching/sealing step. 
Don't do this. They end up stick to one another. Place them neatly and freeze the whole tray. You didn't think me and Mister could eat all this in one go, did you? 
When you are ready to eat them, heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a pan over medium high heat. Whether you are cooking them fresh or from the freezer, you start by neatly arranging them in the pan. You don't want to cram them in but leave enough room so they can "breathe." This little bit of wiggle room allows them to brown, or else it would just steam together. 
One of the reasons we only fold on one side is so it creates the ingot shape. That way when you place them down, the have a flat bottom side. More browning surface and easier to grab! After you've browned one side, turn the dumplings to another side and brown that side too. Mister is a fan of brown crispyness, so we brown all three sides. However browning just one side is fine too. By browning all the sides, I can be assured that the filling has cooked all the way (even if it started off frozen). If you just brown one side then you might (probably) need to steam it. This means after you have browned one side, add no more than 1 tablespoon of water to the pan and immediately cover it. This will create steam and help cook the inside. When the water has evaporated, then remove the cover and pan fry your dumplings until crispy again. The water added will have softened the crispy bottom, but it should crisp up quickly after the water evaporates. 
Finally time to eat! Happy Chinese New Year! 

Dumpling Recipe, yields 60-70 dumplings 
1 pound shrimp
1½ pound ground pork
2 cups finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon garlic powder 
2½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoosn oyster sauce
1 tablespoon black vinegar
hefty pinch salt and pepper
2 packages of dumpling wrappers 

Filling: Peel, devein, and butterfly the shrimp. Set aside. Mix together the remaining ingredients except the wrappers. Test the seasoning of the filling by cooking a tablespoon amount over medium heat. Set aside 
Wrapping: Dust off the excess flour from the wrapper. Place the flat in your hand and place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center. Lay half a shrimp across the filling. Wet the edges of the wrapper, fold the dumping in half to form a half-moon shape, and pinch in the center. Make sure you can see the shrimp peeking out from both sides. Use your fingers to make little folds on one side of the wrapper towards the center of the dumpling. 
Pan fry (all sides brown): Heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and swirl it around. Arrange dumplings in one layer. When one side of the dumpling is brown, then flip to brown the remaining sides. If the dumplings starts to burn then add more oil. When the sides are brown and crispy, you are ready to eat! 
Pan-fry (brown on just one side): Heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and swirl it around. Arrange dumplings in one layer. When one side of the dumpling is brown, add 2 tablespoons of water to the pan. Cover the pan and cook over medium-high heat until all the water has evaporated and the bottoms are browned and crispy again.
Boil: Put dumplings into a pot boiling water. If they are fresh, then once the dumplings are floating they are ready. If they are frozen, then after the pot comes to a boil again add 1 cup of water. When the dumplings are floating, then they are ready. 

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