It’s the lunar New Year and what better time to share one of my favourite Chinese food recipes. Growing up my mother made these dumplings on Fridays as a special weekend treat. I continue this tradition with my own family, and although this recipe is slightly labour intensive, once made the dumplings can be frozen fresh and then pulled out of the freezer and cooked quickly for an easy meal. They taste delicious with a traditional soy vinegar dipping sauce.
These dumplings can be cooked by boiling or “steam-fried” to make potstickers.
Personally I prefer potstickers, as they’re chewy and slightly crispy on the bottom. This following recipes describes how to make potstickers. At the end you will see a method for boiling dumplings if you prefer cooking boiled rather than pan-fried dumplings.
Pork is the traditional filling, the meat should not be too lean, as some fat is desired for a juicy, not-dry filling.
Ingredients: (makes approx. 40 dumplings)
For the filling:
- 1/2 head Nappa cabbage, chopped fine or 4 cups spinach
- 1 lb ground pork (antibiotic-free)
- 1 tbsp. cornstarch
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- 1/2 inch ginger root, chopped finely
- 2 scallions, chopped finely
- 3 tbsp. tamari soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 package frozen round dumpling wrappers
For the soy vinegar dipping sauce:
- 1/4 cup Tamari soy sauce
- 1/8 cup seasoned rice vinegar (or substitute with 1/8 cup white or apple cider vinegar and 1/4 tsp. sugar)
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp. sriracha (optional)
- Add 1/2 tbsp. olive oil to a medium skillet pan, heat to medium-high. Add the Napa cabbage or spinach to the pan, and stir to wilt. Add 1 or 2 tbsp. of water or broth if needed to soften the Napa cabbage or spinach. Stir and then remove from the fry pan. Set aside.
- In another bowl, combine cornstarch, garlic, ginger, scallions, tamari, sesame oil, white pepper and salt. Add the Napa cabbage or spinach. Note: When added to marinades, cornstarch provides a light coating to meat that protects it slightly from the intense of cooking, this helps prevent overcooking and toughening of the outer layers of meat.
- Place a dumpling wrapper on a lightly floured work surface and spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle. Wet the edge with a little water and crimp together forming small pleats to seal the dumpling. Repeat with remaining dumpling wrappers and filling.
- Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place 8 to 10 dumplings in the pan and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Pour in 1/2 cup of water, cover and cook until the dumplings are tender and the pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Repeat for remaining dumplings. Serve with soy vinegar dipping sauce.
Boiling Dumplings Method:
Heat a large stockpot with water, once water is boiling, add dumplings in batches of 10. Once water boils again, add a bowl of water. Wait for the water to boil again, then add another bowl of water. This last time the water boils, the dumplings are cooked. Use a slotted spoon and carefully remove dumplings and rest on a plate. Serve immediately with soy vinegar dipping sauce.