Here is a popular treat from Chinese restaurants that’s fun to prepare at home, especially if you’re interested in an exotic dinner and aren’t short on time; we spent a couple hours making about 30 dumplings. They can be prepared ahead of time and frozen, but I wouldn’t want to miss the pleasure of eating a few right to reward myself right after the prep work!
The vegetarian dumplings were filled with a mix of napa cabbage (finely chopped), carrot (grated), ginger (finely grated), spring onion (minced), shiitake mushroom (rehydrated from dry, then chopped), tofu (firm, crumbled), garlic (finely grated), and five spice powder. We also tossed the filling with some soy sauce and sesame oil; this is optional, but gave the vegetable filling more flavor and perhaps helped it to clump when wrapping.
The meat dumplings contained the same filling with ground pork sausage flavored with five spice powder. We used the meat from two store-bought sausages (fresh, raw); any mildly-spiced, coarse sausage would likely work well, but ours were Italian sausage, often spiced with fennel or anise seed, which is commonly used to flavor Chinese foods too.
We wrapped the filling using a simple dough of all-purpose flour and water, about 3 cups flour to about 1 1/4 cups water, rolled into balls and flattened by hand into circular wrappers. Fill each wrapper right after you flatten it to avoid the dough becoming too dry to work with.
Place whole cabbage leaves in the bottom of a steamer tray to keep the dumplings from sticking. After steaming the dumplings for about 20 minutes total (15 minutes is probably sufficient for the vegetarian ones), we served them for dinner along with a miso soup and froze about half of them to steam another time.
Our leftover steamed dumplings were prepared as potstickers the next day; from the refrigerator, they were rewarmed by microwave and then pan-fried in oil until browned on the bottom. I don’t think it’s traditional, but turn to brown the sides if you like – I did. :)
Here is the recipe that was basis for these dumplings and a recipe for the somewhat similar Polish dumplings, pierogi:
These dumplings were a fun project for two on a weekend evening and tasted every bit as good as many I’ve had at restaurants, even though this was a first time making them at home. Give them a try!