Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Chinese Dumpling by any other name.....

So you're in the mood for Dim Sum,  go to a Chinese take out, order potstickers and the biggest decision you have to make about these is, "steamed or fried".  Seems there is more to this decision than you ever truly knew about. 

Potstickers is just one version of the Chinese Dumpling; pan fried on the bottom and then steamed.  When they are served, the browned pan fried side is shown.  Jiaozi is the Mandarin version; the dough is thicker than for a wonton and the dumpling itself is usually boiled and pan fried.  Gow Gee is the Cantonese version; wonton wrappers are frequently used, they can either be steamed or deep fried; no boiling involved.

The Chinese dumpling dates back to 200 B.C. to the fable of Pan Gu who ends the chaotic state of the world by separating it into two "half egg" shaped parts; the sky and the earth.  They are a staple for the New Year for expressing best wishes, happy days and good health.  It was not unusual for a tinket (coin, jewel) of some value to be hidden in the odd dumpling; very similar to the prizes in the English Christmas pudding.

While making the dough for dumplings is not difficult, premade wrappers can be found in the supermarkets along side wonton skins, or spring and eggroll wrappers.

Chinese Dumpling Dough


2 cups flour
2/3 cup warm water


Combine the flour and water until a soft dough forms; knead on a floured surface for five minutes.  Cover with a clean linen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.  Divide the dough in half, roll out each half into a 12 inch long cylinder; cut into 1/2 inch slices.  Flatten out each slice with the palm of your hand, or use a rolling pin, to a 2 1/2 inch diameter.

Makes 48 dumpling wrappers.

The filling for dumplings is very versatile and can contain any kind of protein, vegetable or combinations; using fruit will give you the filling for a unique dessert item.  I am going to post a typical filling, that you would get in any take out place, made with ground pork.

Chinese Dumpling Filling


1/2 pound ground pork
2 large napa cabbage leaves, rinsed and finely diced
2 green onions, finely sliced
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp cornstarch

Bowl of warm water


Mix all ingredients listed, except water, together; place a teaspoon of mixture off center in a dough circle.  Dip finger in water and trace around outside edge of dough circle; fold dough over filling, with edges meeting and begin pleating the edges to seal filling in.

To Fry Dumplings:

In a large skillet, heat 1/4 of canola or peanut oil over medium-high heat, add dumplings, 12 at a time, and brown one side; takes about 2-3 minutes.  Add a 1/2 cup of water, cover and let steam for 5 minutes; uncover and let cook for another 2 minutes.

To Steam Dumplings:

Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Line bottom of bamboo steamer with cabbage leaves, place dumplings within, cover and place steamer on top of stock pot.  Steam for 6 minutes.

To Boil Dumplings:

Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Put dumplings into boiling water and when they float, they are done.

Serve dumplings with your favorite sauce(s).

Mary Cokenour

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