Amidst the rich tapestry of Chinese cuisine, few dishes carry the cultural significance and mouth watering allure as the humble Chinese dumpling. These delightful parcels of dough, brimming with savory fillings, have been a staple in Chinese households for centuries, cherished not only for their delectable taste but also for the stories they tell about family, heritage, and the art of culinary craftsmanship.
Steeped in history and brimming with diverse flavors, Chinese dumplings are an art form in their own right. From the northern provinces of China, where the tradition of dumpling-making is deeply rooted, to the bustling streets of modern-day cities, these savory delights have traveled far and wide, earning a place in the hearts and stomachs of people around the globe.
In this post below, we will share how to make Chinese dumplings from scratch and along with our favorite Chinese dumpling recipe. So, roll up your sleeves and prepare to infuse your kitchen with the enticing aroma of freshly steamed or pan-fried dumplings.
What are Chinese dumplings?
Jiaozi (饺子), commonly referred to as Chinese dumplings, represent a cherished traditional Chinese delicacy crafted from a basic blend of dough and diverse fillings. These delightful little pockets of goodness are enjoyed throughout China and have gained popularity worldwide due to their irresistible taste and versatility.
Chinese dumpling dough typically consists of wheat flour and water, yielding a soft and elastic texture that can be skillfully rolled and molded into various shapes. On the other hand, the fillings offer incredible diversity, presenting a vast array of flavors and ingredient combinations to tantalize the taste buds. Common fillings include minced meat (pork, beef, chicken, or lamb), seafood (shrimp, fish), vegetables (cabbage, Chinese chives, mushrooms), and a variety of seasonings like ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil.
The process of making Chinese dumplings is not just a culinary practice; it is a beloved cultural tradition often associated with family gatherings and festivals. Families will come together to prepare the dumplings, often during special occasions like Chinese New Year or the Lantern Festival. During this time, families come together to bond, share stories, and pass down beloved family recipes from one generation to another.
One of the most iconic aspects of Chinese dumplings is their various shapes and cooking methods. The folding styles of dumplings can vary based on regional influences and individual tastes, ranging from crescents and half-moons to intricately pleated pouches. Additionally, they can be boiled, steamed, pan-fried, or deep-fried, each method offering a unique taste and texture to the dumplings.
Chinese dumplings are accompanied by a flavorful dipping sauce, typically a combination of soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and chili oil. The dipping sauce complements the dumplings perfectly, enhancing their taste and providing an extra layer of enjoyment.
Traditional Chinese Dumplings
Make the dough
1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the all-purpose flour and a pinch of salt.
2. Slowly pour warm water into the flour while stirring with chopsticks or a fork.
3. Keep adding water gradually until the dough begins to form and come together.
4. Take the dough and knead it with your hands until it reaches a smooth and elastic consistency. If the dough appears too sticky, incorporate a small amount of additional flour; if it seems too dry, add a little more water as needed.
5. Place a damp cloth or plastic wrap over the dough, allowing it to rest for approximately 30 minutes.
Prepare the filling
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground pork, chopped chives, minced garlic, grated ginger, soy sauce, oyster sauce, cooking wine, white pepper, and a pinch of salt.
2. Mix everything thoroughly until well combined. You can also use your hands to knead the mixture, which helps to develop a better texture.
Assemble the dumplings
1. After the dough has rested, split it into smaller portions for more convenient handling. The size of each portion will depend on the desired size of your dumplings and the number you want to make.
2. Sprinkle a light dusting of flour on your work surface, whether it's a clean countertop or a large cutting board, to prevent the dough from sticking while rolling it out.
3. Grab a single portion of the dough and use your hands to flatten it into a disk shape gently. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out from the center to the edges, applying even pressure. While rolling out the dough, remember to rotate it periodically to ensure even thickness and prevent it from sticking to the surface.
4. Roll the dough to achieve your preferred thickness. Dumpling wrappers are typically thin, but the thickness can vary based on personal preference and the type of dumplings you're making. Strive for wrappers with a diameter of approximately 3-4 inches for regular-sized dumplings.
5. Place a small spoonful of the filling (about 1 to 1.5 teaspoons) in the center of the dumpling wrapper.
6. Dampen the edges of the dumpling wrapper with water to aid in sealing the dumpling.
7. Fold the dumpling wrapper in half and firmly press the edges together to create a tight seal. You can use pleats to create a decorative pattern or simply press the edges firmly to seal into a half-moon shape.
8. Continue repeating this process until you have utilized all the filling or the dumpling dough.
Cook the dumplings
There are two popular ways to cook pork chive dumplings: boiling and pan-frying. Here's how to do both:
1. Heat a large pot of water until it comes to a boil.
2. Gently place the dumplings into the boiling water, taking care not to splash, and stir them gently to avoid sticking.
3. Allow the dumplings to cook for approximately 5-6 minutes or until they float to the surface and the filling is thoroughly cooked.
4. Using a slotted spoon, take out the boiled dumplings and arrange them on a serving plate.
1. Warm up a non-stick skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of avocado oil or oil of your choice.
2. Position the dumplings in the skillet, ensuring there is some space between each one.
3. Fry the dumplings for approximately 2-3 minutes or until their bottoms turn golden brown.
4. With caution, pour 1/4 cup of water into the skillet, then cover it with a lid. Allow the dumplings to steam for an additional 3-4 minutes or until they are thoroughly cooked.
5. Take off the lid and continue frying the dumplings until the water evaporates and the bottoms become crisp and golden. Then serve dumplings with your preferred dipping sauce.
Prepare the dipping sauce (optional):
1. Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and chili oil (if desired) in a small bowl, and mix them together.
2. For added flavor, consider incorporating chopped green onions or a sprinkle of sesame seeds.
Tips & Notes
Properly season the filling: Taste the filling mixture before assembling the homemade dumplings to ensure it's well-seasoned. Customize the quantity of soy sauce, salt, and other seasonings according to your taste preferences.
Finely chop the chives: Make sure to finely chop the Chinese chives to ensure they distribute evenly throughout the filling and you don't end up with large chunks of chives in the dumplings.
Don't overfill the dumplings: It's essential not to overstuff them to prevent them from bursting open while cooking. Use a conservative amount of filling and seal the edges tightly.
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g
Saturated Fat 0.9g
Total Carbohydrate 50.3g
Dietary Fiber 2.5g
Total Sugars 0.8g
Vitamin D 0mcg
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Seal the dumplings properly: To ensure a tight seal, dampen the edges of the wrapper with water. Then, firmly crimp or pleat the edges to prevent any filling from leaking during the cooking process.
Let the dough rest: It's important that you let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes before using it.
What Ingredients You Will Need To Make These Chinese Dumplings
The main protein in the dumpling filling is ground pork, which imparts a flavorful and juicy, tender texture to the homemade dumplings. However, if ground pork is unavailable, you have the option to use ground chicken, turkey, or firm tofu as a substitute for a vegetarian version.
Chinese chives (garlic chives)
These are a type of chives commonly used in Chinese cuisine. They have a mild garlic flavor and contribute a fresh, herbal taste to the filling.If Chinese chives are not available, you can easily substitute them with regular chives or green onions (scallions).
Minced garlic contributes a robust and aromatic flavor to the filling, elevating the overall taste. In case fresh garlic is unavailable, you can use garlic powder as a substitute, although the flavor may not be as pronounced.
Grated ginger provides a warm, spicy kick to the filling and complements the other flavors. While fresh ginger is preferred, ground ginger can be utilized as a substitute if needed.
Soy sauce imparts a salty and savory seasoning that brings out the umami in the filling. It serves as a vital ingredient in numerous Asian dishes. If you have a soy allergy or prefer a milder flavor, you can use tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) or coconut aminos as an alternative.
Oyster sauce derived from oysters is a luscious and savory condiment that imparts a depth of flavor and a subtle sweetness to the filling. If you're vegetarian or allergic to oysters, you can substitute vegetarian oyster sauce, mushroom sauce, or hoisin sauce.
Cooking wine (e.g., Shaoxing wine)
Cooking wine adds a delightful aroma and helps tenderize the meat while imparting a subtle wine flavor. Shaoxing wine is a popular Chinese cooking wine, but if it's not available, you can use dry sherry or Japanese mirin as a substitute.
White pepper, prevalent in Chinese cuisine, boasts a gentler flavor compared to black pepper and contributes a subtle spiciness to the filling. In case white pepper is unavailable, you can use black pepper as a substitute, though the color and flavor will exhibit slight differences.
Salt plays a crucial role in seasoning the filling and enhancing the flavors of the other ingredients. Feel free to adjust the amount of salt based on your personal taste preferences.
If possible, make your own dumpling wrappers from dumpling dough using flour, water, and a pinch of salt. However, making wrappers from scratch does require some time and effort, but it is totally worth every effort.
You have control over the ingredients used when making dumpling dough from scratch. In general, homemade wrappers consist of basic ingredients such as all-purpose flour, water, and occasionally a pinch of salt. This provides the flexibility to tailor the dumpling dough according to your specific tastes and dietary choices. Moreover, homemade wrappers offer a fresh, clean flavor and are devoid of any added flavors or preservatives.
If you are working with limited time, purchase pre-made wrappers instead. Dumpling wrappers are thin sheets of dough used to encase the filling. You can find pre-made wrappers in Asian grocery stores.
Dipping sauce (optional)
The customary dipping sauce typically comprises soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and occasionally chili oil or other seasonings. It adds extra flavor and tanginess to the dumplings. Feel free to customize the dipping sauce to your liking.
Ways to Cook Homemade Dumplings
Boiling: Boiling dumplings is one of the most common and straightforward methods for cooking homemade Chinese dumplings. This technique results in tender and juicy dumplings with a soft texture. Here's how to boil dumplings:
Prepare the Dumplings: Start by making the Chinese dumplings using your preferred filling and wrapping them in wrappers. You can use store-bought round dumpling wrappers or make your own.
Boil Water: Take a large pot and fill it with water, then heat it until it reaches a rolling boil. You want enough water to submerge the Chinese dumplings during cooking fully.
Add Dumplings to the Boiling Water: With caution, lower the Chinese dumplings one by one into the boiling water. Stir gently to prevent the dumplings from sticking together or to the bottom of the pot.
Cook the Dumplings: Allow the Chinese dumplings to cook in the boiling water for approximately 5-6 minutes or until they rise to the surface. Floating indicates that the Chinese dumplings are fully cooked, and the filling is cooked through.
Remove Dumplings from Water: After the Chinese dumplings have floated to the surface, use a slotted spoon or a strainer to carefully remove them from the water.
Steaming: Steaming dumplings is a popular and traditional cooking method that preserves the delicate flavors and textures of the filling. Steamed dumplings have a moist and tender texture, making them a delightful and healthier option compared to fried dumplings. Here's how to steam dumplings:
Prepare the Dumplings: Start by making the dumplings using your preferred filling and wrapping them in wrappers. You can use store-bought round dumpling wrappers or make your own.
Line the Steamer Basket: To prevent the Chinese dumplings from sticking to the surface, line the steamer basket with parchment paper or cabbage leaves.
Bring water to a Simmer: Fill a pot or a wok with water about 1-2 inches deep. Gradually heat the water over medium heat until it reaches a gentle simmer.
Arrange the Dumplings: With care, position the dumplings in the steamer basket, ensuring there is some space between each one. Avoid overcrowding the dumplings, as they will expand slightly during cooking.
Steam the Dumplings: Place the steamer basket with the dumplings over the simmering water. Place a lid on the pot or wok to trap the steam, and steam the dumplings for approximately 8-10 minutes or until they are thoroughly cooked.
Check for Doneness: To determine if the dumplings are cooked, insert a toothpick or skewer into the center of one of the dumplings. The steamed dumplings are done if it comes out clean, and the filling is no longer pink.
Pan-Frying: Pan-frying dumplings, also known as "potstickers" or "guotie" in Chinese cuisine, is a popular cooking method that creates a delicious combination of crispy bottoms and tender, juicy filling. Pan-frying enhances the flavor and adds a delightful texture to the dumplings. Here's how to pan-fry dumplings:
Prepare the Dumplings: Start by making the Chinese dumplings using your preferred filling and wrapping them in wrappers. You can use store-bought round dumpling wrappers or make your own.
Heat the Pan: Opt for a non-stick pan or a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet for optimal results. Place the pan over medium heat and add a small amount of vegetable oil, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.
Arrange the Dumplings: Gently position the Chinese dumplings in the pan, ensuring there is some space between each one. The flat side (the side that was on the work surface) should be facing down, and the rounded side facing up.
Fry the Dumplings: Let the Chinese dumplings cook undisturbed for approximately 5 minutes or until the bottoms turn golden brown and become crispy.
Add Water and Cover: After the bottoms are nicely browned, add around 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Be cautious, as the water might sizzle when it contacts the hot oil. Swiftly cover the pan with a lid to trap the steam inside.
Steam the Dumplings: The water will create steam, which helps to cook the Chinese dumplings through while keeping them tender. Allow the dumplings to steam for an extra 3-4 minutes.
Remove the Lid and Fry Again: Once the steaming is complete, remove the lid and proceed to cook the dumplings until all the water evaporates completely. This step will give the dumplings a final crispiness on the bottom.
Serve: Once the water has evaporated, the pan-fried dumplings are ready to be served. Use a spatula to carefully lift the dumplings from the pan, ensuring they don't stick to the surface.
How To Store Leftover Dumplings
Storing leftover dumplings properly is essential to maintain their quality and safety for later consumption. Let the cooked dumplings cool down to room temperature before storing them. Leaving them out for too long can lead to bacterial growth, so try to refrigerate them as soon as possible after they are cooked. Store the cooled leftover dumplings in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag, ensuring to remove as much air as possible to prevent moisture buildup, which can cause sogginess.
Typically, leftover dumplings can be safely stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Beyond that, the quality and safety of the dumplings may deteriorate. For larger quantities of leftover dumplings that won't be consumed within a few days, freezing is a great option. First, place the cooled dumplings in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze them for about an hour. Once partially frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container or resealable plastic bag for longer storage. Frozen dumplings can last for several months.
If you have uncooked dumplings that you want to store, make sure they are assembled and ready for cooking. Follow the recipe to wrap the filling in the wrappers. Arrange the uncooked dumplings in a single layer on a baking sheet or a plate, making sure they are not touching to prevent sticking. Put the baking sheet with the dumplings in the freezer and allow them to freeze for about an hour or until they are partially frozen. This initial quick freeze helps prevent the dumplings from sticking together when stored in a container or bag. Once the dumplings are partially frozen, transfer them to an airtight container or a resealable plastic freezer bag. If using a bag, try to remove as much air as possible before sealing.
Uncooked dumplings can be stored in the freezer for several months, but for optimal quality, it's recommended to use them within 1-2 months. When you're ready to cook the frozen dumplings, there's no need to thaw them beforehand. You can cook them directly from frozen using your preferred cooking method (boiling, steaming, pan-frying, or deep-frying). Simply adjust the cooking time slightly, as frozen dumplings may require a few extra minutes to cook compared to fresh ones.
Dumpling Filling in Ideas
Chinese dumplings offer a wide range of filling options, and the combinations are practically limitless. Here are some popular Chinese dumpling filling and combo ideas:
Pork and Cabbage: A classic and traditional combo, the savory and juicy pork pairs perfectly with the cabbage's mild and slightly sweet flavor.
Chicken and Mushroom: Tender chicken combined with flavorful mushrooms creates a delicious and aromatic filling.
Beef and Carrot: Ground beef with finely grated carrots adds a touch of sweetness and vibrant color to the filling.
Shrimp and Chive: The delightful combination of succulent shrimp with chopped chives offers a burst of flavors and textures.
Vegetarian Delight: A mix of various vegetables like finely chopped cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, and tofu, seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil, makes for a satisfying and flavorful vegetarian filling.
Pork and Shrimp: The richness of pork combined with the sweetness of shrimp makes for a delightful and savory filling.
Beef and Green Bean: Ground beef with finely chopped green beans adds a crunchy element to the filling.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What kind of flour should I use to make dumpling wrappers?
Traditional Chinese dumpling dough for wrappers is made using all-purpose wheat flour. However, you can also use dumpling flour specifically labeled for making dumpling wrappers, which might have a slightly different texture.
How do I fold the dumplings to make them look nice?
Folding dumplings can be challenging at first. Practice folding techniques like the basic crescent shape, pleats, or folding the wrapper in half and sealing the edges with a fork. Numerous tutorials and videos are available online, showcasing various folding methods for dumplings.
Can I make dumplings in advance and store them for later?
Indeed, you can prepare dumplings in advance and store them. Refrigerating them allows for short-term storage while freezing them extends their shelf life for a longer period. Properly store them in airtight containers or bags to maintain their quality.
Can I freeze uncooked dumplings?
Yes, you can freeze uncooked dumplings. Once you've assembled the dumplings, lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze them for approximately an hour. Then, transfer them to a container or bag for long-term freezer storage.
How do I cook frozen dumplings?
You can cook frozen dumplings directly without the need for thawing. Boil, steam, pan-fry, or deep-fry them using slightly adjusted cooking times to ensure they cook through properly.
What's the best way to seal dumplings to prevent filling leakage?
To seal dumplings effectively, ensure the wrapper's edges are moistened with water or egg wash. Press the edges together firmly to achieve a tight seal, and utilize pleats or other folding techniques to reinforce the closure.
How do I know when the dumplings are fully cooked?
The cooking time for dumplings may vary depending on their size and the chosen cooking method. Typically, dumplings are considered cooked when they float to the surface (boiling) or turn translucent (pan frying and steaming). Alternatively, you can cut one open to check if the filling is fully cooked.
What are some vegetarian or vegan dumpling filling options?
You can use fillings like finely chopped vegetables, tofu, mushrooms, or a combination of these for vegetarian dumplings. You can also add seasonings like soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and herbs for flavor.
What dipping sauce goes well with dumplings?
A popular dipping sauce for dumplings includes a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, and sometimes a splash of chili oil or chopped green onions. Customize the sauce to your taste preference.
How to reheat leftover boiled dumplings?
Pan frying is often considered one of the best ways to reheat boiled dumplings because it combines the best of both worlds – it helps retain the tender and moist texture from boiling while also adding a crispy and flavorful crust to the dumplings.
What To Do With Leftover Filling?
Having leftover filling from making dumplings is not uncommon, and it presents an excellent opportunity to get creative and make other delicious dishes. You can make more dumplings, stuff them in vegetables and steam them, turn them into meatballs, add them to spring rolls, or freeze them and save them for later.