Chinese New Year continues with dumplings! These pouches of goodness are considered to bring wealth in the New Year because they resemble gold ingots (an ancient Chinese money).
These ingots can be seen on the Feng Shui bracelet, pictured on the left. The ingots are on either side of the dragon or Pixui. Feng Shui bracelets are worn for good fortune and protection.
I think I’ll eat some dumplings for good fortune and protection from hunger. These heavenly receptacles of deliciousness can be cooked multiple ways – steamed, pan-fried, or put into soup. Fillings also vary from only vegetables, to seasoned meat, or a combination of both. This recipe is of pan fried dumplings filled with pork, scallions and chives.
Lucky for all of you, I got my experience at dumpling making from the American Dream Mall. Now I know not everyone can have someone be there and hold their hand through this difficult process, but I’ll help you.
Starting with after you had made your dough and let it rest for an hour, take a piece of the dough about half the size of a golf ball. (Disclaimer: Rolling a perfect circle from dough is not my forté. If you can, then kudos to you and I’m jelly). Now roll out your dough as flat as you can. About a mm thick.
It’s slightly thicker in the picture but mind you there is dough snapback where it shrinks just a little when you let go.
I was informed that you want to have the edges a littler thinner than the middle. (good luck with that.) What the lady used was a mini French rolling pin (a rolling pin with tapered edges).
Now there’s a few ways around it. The easiest and fastest way is to buy the pre-made stuff. What I did was make the dough, but after flattening it, I used a circular cutter to make the perfect round shape. It was still by no means perfect, but it got the job done.
I have seen that “traditional” chinese dumpling filling is of pork and chives. The chives are usually Chinese chives aka Garlic Chives. These have wider, flatter leaves and are not hollow. They also have a more potent garlic-like flavor. On the other hand the chives found in my grocery story have a more subtle flavor, which is why I added the scallions. You could even add more garlic to the filling and less scallions, and that’s a great choice too. Use what your supermarket has and your own food preferences, because after all this is “Nacho Recipes” where creativity and your pantry reign. Now back to the regularly scheduled program.
Chopping the ingredients finely and throughly mixing the filling is key here. I used a microplane to grate the ginger and a garlic press for the garlic. You can always go the good ol’ fashioned way and use a knife.
I found using my hands is the best way to incorporate all the ingredients. IMPORTANT: Post-mixing – take about a spoonful (1 Tbsp) of filling and microwave it for about 10-30s. Anything longer and you will have a burnt mess (trust me, first hand experience). You know the ground pork is cooked when it turns pale. Taste it and add salt, or more soy sauce if needed. Remember less is more, because keep in mind you may be using dipping sauces, or putting it in a flavorful soup.
Making the Dumpling
Add about 2 tsp to 1 Tbsp of filling to the center of the disc leaving at least a half inch of dough space around the filling. Fold one end of the disc over the filling to make a half moon shape. I used a pinch and pull technique to seal the edges. You can stop here if you feel that your dumpling filling is secure. I like the look of pleated dumplings, so I did that. It’s easier to show you, so watch the video if you are still unsure about how this dumpling folding business happens.
Once all your filling or dough is used up, you can:
a) Cook them all and eat them all.
b) Cook some and save the rest for later. They can then be gifted to friends and family. In order to save them, place them in the freezer on a pan (not touching each other) for about an hour or until frozen. Once frozen they can be put in a freezer bag all higgleddy-piggledy and then placed back in the freezer. They will be good for up to three months. Once frozen you can gift them to friends and family. (You can also cook them and gift them, but unless your friends and family are present when you cook them, these are best eaten fresh).
Cooking Method: Pan Frying
As you just read in the beginning, dumplings can be steamed, boiled in soup or pan-fried. My favorite is pan-frying so that’s what I’m going to teach you.
Add 1 Tbsp of the cooking oil of your choice to a preheated frying pan that’s on medium high heat. Once heated, add your dumplings to the pan. Place them on the pan without touching each other (think Haphephobia). You’ll know they are done when the bottom of the dumpling is crispy and brown. You’ll know when they are overcooked when their bottom is black. Once you achieve your level of preferred bottom done-ness, add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Think no bottom of pan without water, not drowning dumplings. ALSO word of the wise, BEFORE you add the water, use the cover of the frying pan as a shield from the oil splatter. Immediately cover the dumplings once the water is poured.
Dumplings are done when the water has all steamed away. Plate them up, get your preferred dipping sauce ready, and ENJOY!
Pork, Chives and Scallion Dumplings
- Frying pan
- Cutting Board
- Rolling Pin
- Circular Dough Cutter Optional
- Garlic Press Optional
- Microplaner or Grater Optional
- 4 Cups All purpose flour
- 1 Cup water
- 1 Lb/package ground pork 70% lean 30% fat or 80% lean 20% fat
- 1 Cup chives chopped
- 1 Bunch Scallions Chopped - Reserve some for garnish and optional for dipping sauce
- 2 Cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tbsp ginger grated
- 1 Tsp white sugar
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine Substitute - Sherry wine
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- Oil to fry We used olive oil
- Enough water to cover bottom of pan
Dipping Sauce (Optional)
- 2 Tbsp Soy Sauce
- 1 Tbsp Sesame Oil
- 1 Tsp Garlic and ginger paste
- 1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar
- 1 tsp-tbsp Chili oil Optional and based on your spiciness preference
- Scallions Optional and based on your preference
- In a large bowl add your flour and water.
- Knead until soft and smooth for about 15 minutes and set aside to rest for an hour.
- In a separate bowl add your meat, scallions, chives, garlic, ginger, sugar, sesame oil, shaoxing rice wine or sherry wine, and soy sauce. Mix thoroughly.
Making the Dumplings
- Create dumpling wraps by first dusting your workstation with a bit of flour.Then take about a half golf ball size of dough and roll a small portion of dough with a rolling pin to about 1 mm in thickness. Your aim is to create a circular disc. If you can freehand it, AMAZING! If not use a circular dough cutter. (Tip: To ensure the main portion of dough doesn’t dry out, cover with plastic film such as Saranwrap.)
- Add about 2 tsps to 1 Tbsp of filling to the center. Try not to overfill otherwise the dumpling won’t seal properly.
- Fold one end of the disc to the other and press to seal the edges. Stop here or pleat. Set dumpling aside.
- Repeat dumpling creation until all the dough or filling is finished.
Pan-Frying the Dumplings
- Add about a Tbsp of cooking oil to a preheated pan on medium high heat.
- Add your dumplings, enough that none are touching each other. Cook until bottoms are brown and crispy.
- Once the bottoms of the dumplings are browned to your satisfaction, add your water. CAUTION: When adding water, use the lid of the pan to shield yourself from the oil splatter. Add enough water to the pan to cover the bottom. Immediately cover. This will steam the dumplings. Make sure to allow some steam to vent while cooking. Our pan lid has a small hole to achieve this. Cook until all water is gone.
- Plate, garnish and enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce. The dipping sauce below is optional as is the garnish.
- Combine selected dipping sauce ingredients into a small bowl. We used the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, ginger garlic paste, and some scallions.