Quite a while ago, at the start of this blog, I was celebrating Chinese New Year by making my own steamed dumplings. I had only eaten them once and never made them before so it was quite a risk but luckily, I got some great tips from my friend Shao-Chi and his mom! Now, 2 years later I have decided to take the next step and recreate & revamp that recipe. I decided to take a big risk and make the dumpling dough myself. I’m not going to lie, the first batch went horribly wrong! The dough was way too moist and when it got steamed it ended up getting stuck to the parchment paper and it ruptured as soon as I tried to scoop it out. Epic fail, if I do say so myself!
But not one to give up I retried it straight away, after all, I had worked an entire day and was too hungry to go to bed without my dumplings! The second batch was much better, as I found out while making it that I just made a miscalculation somewhere and had accidentally used the wrong amount of water compared to the amount of flour I used, oops! Folding the dumplings is also not an easy task so if you are only just starting to cook I do recommend to use ready made dumpling dough, which is available in every Asian supermarket (usually in the frozen foods section). If you do make it yourself and it works out well, remember that you can always freeze the dough you made as well too, so that you don’t have to make it from scratch again next time. Simply dust a bit of flour over each piece of dumpling dough and layer them up in a sealed freezer bag.
I also added a raw pak choi (also known as Chinese cabbage) salad with some dry roasted peanuts and a dash of rice wine and sesame oil: basic but light and fresh. So now we have a full meal, which you can serve with some soy sauce or soy sauce with rice wine and sesame oil (use equal amounts of each). Pak choi is such a health addition to this meal as it’s 95% water, 2% carbohydrates, 1% protein and less than 1% fat. Chinese cabbage was ranked second for nutrient density out of 41 nutrient-rich plant foods.
Now as I said before I used steamed dumplings in my recipe. You see, there are basically three ways to make dumplings: steaming, boiling or pan fried. I tried the first two options but preffered the steamed ones. The ones I boiled turned out a lot bigger and the filling had less taste than with the steamed ones. Also, a couple of the boiled dumplings got stuck to the bottom of the pot and ripped. So I decided to just go along with steaming instead of boiling. If you’ve never tried either one of them I’d suggest to try both techniques as well, the dough has a very different taste when steamed vs being boiled, and you may prefer one over the other.
Makes: 30 dumplings
- 250-300g all purpose flour
- 4 spring onions
- 200g ground pork
- 175 ml just boiled water
- 1 tablespoon of sweet soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil + extra for salad
- 1 tablespoon of rice wine + extra for salad
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 pak choi
- 100g dry roasted peanuts
We’re first going to make the dough, keep in mind it needs to rest for at least 30 minutes though. If you are boiling the dumplings instead of steaming them you can use cold water instead, this will make the dough thicker and prevents it from rupturing while boiling. As we are steaming them in this recipe we want our dough to be thinner, which is why we use hot water. Because we are using hot water, I do recommend to use a food processor, so you can’t burn your hands while mixing the dough. However, I do recommend to let the water cool down a bit after boiling, just a couple of minutes should be fine; Add the flour to the processor and slowly add hot water with the machine running. Stop the machine when all the water has been added and check the dough. It should feel soft but firm. Give it a quick pinch to check if it’s firm enough, if it is the dough will hold it’s shape. If it is, roll it into a ball (you can do this manually if it’s not too warm, or use the machine again). Don’t overwork the dough though, simply roll it into a ball.
Now put it on a lightly floured surface and give it a quick knead with the heel of your hands. Less than a minute should be fine if you used a processor, go for less than 2 minutes if you did it by hand. Put it in sealed bag or in a covered bowl for at least 30 minutes and for no more than 2 hours. Now you’ll see why we used hot water: the dough will steam up in the bowl/bag, which will make it really soft to handle. If you aren’t planning on using the dough right away you can refrigerate it until the next day, just make sure to let it warm up to room temperature again after taking it out.
When you are ready to make the wrappers, take the dough and split it in half. Split both parts in half again and keep going until you have tiny dough balls. Now dust your work surface with some flour again and use the heel of your hand to press the balls down. Use a rolling pin to roll them into wrappers. Mine were around 15 cm diameter and 2-3mm thick. The size doesn’t affect the taste though but the thickness will. If it’s your first time making them I would simply suggest to roll one wrapper, steam it and eat it and then adjust the others to your liking, either make them thinner or thicker.
Now moving on to the filling of our delicious dumplings! Cut the spring onions up in small slices and separate the white part from the green part. You want to make sure your dumpling has both parts so make sure you separate them so you can just take a bit of each pile when you make your dumplings. Take a bowl and add the ground beef, sesame oil, rice wine, salt and soy sauce. Stir them all together and set aside.
Take one dumpling wrapper, take a teaspoon of your filling, place it in the middle of your dumpling and add a couple of spring onion slices.
You will also need a small dish of water to make sure the dumplings won’t open up while being steamed or boiled. Dip your fingers in the water and run them around the outside of the wrapper, so the edges will stick together nicely when you fold the dumpling. Bring the sides of the wrapper up over the filling. You can now either simply press the edges together. I made a short video showing you how to fill & fold your dumplings, to make it a bit easier to understand:
Now that your dumplings are done, you can take a big wok (or wide pot) and pour in warm water, get the water to boil lightly and put your steamer basket on top of a steamer rack so the water does not touch your basket. To make sure you don’t put in too much water, simply put the steamer rack inside your wok and poor in water until it gets too 2 centimeters from the top of the rack. Put a sheet of baking paper at the bottom of the steamer and steam the dumplings for 12-15 minutes.
The final piece of this recipe is the pak choi salad, which you can easily prepare while the dumplings are steaming (or boiling). This is really easy to do. Wash the pak choi, slice them in half and place them on a plate. Drizzle about 1 tablespoon of rice wine and one tablespoon of sesame oil on top and sprinkle with peanuts. When eating them you can slice them up completely, no need to remove anything.
Note: These gorgeous plates come from Carraig Donn’s Aisling Collection.