The Dummy-Proofed Dumpling Recipe (ASIAN 258 Virtual Food Lab)
Updated: Apr 1, 2020
Full disclosure: I did *not* grow up making these. My mother was a southerner: born in Singapore, raised in Canton, schooled in Hong Kong. She would never have made her wheat noodles from scratch. We were a rice family.
Learning to make dumplings has been a life goal. I recently succeeded after messing around some more with Sachika's tricks (Sachika taught our dumpling lab). My technique is basic, but it's dummy proofed.
Flour, 400 grams
Salt, 4 grams
Water, 200 grams (room temperature)
Cornstarch or flour for dusting
Ground meat, 1 lb
Scallions, 2 stalks (minced)
Onions, 1/2 cup (minced)
Garlic, 3 cloves (minced)
Soy sauce, 2 T
Salt, 1.5-2 teaspoons (or to taste)
Sesame oil, 1 teaspoon
Ginger, 2 teaspoons (minced)
Cornstarch, 3 T
Your choice of vegetables:
You can use reconstituted wood-ears, sliced thin and minced (1/2 cup)
Spinach, stir-fried until wilted (1/2 cup; frozen fine)
Your choice. I like my food with more spices. Not everyone is a fan. I don't put minced ginger these days because my daughter complains about the spiciness. I like a little Sichuan peppercorn; my daughter objects (so no numbing at my house).
For lamb, beef, or goat. I use about a tablespoon of cumin and coriander, then add a handful of minced cilantro.
Rolling pin (thinner is better)
1. Start by making your filling. Be sure to mince everything well. Mix everything together until incorporated. The corn starch will prevent your filling from getting too wet or leaky. It will also tenderize the meat. Marinate in the fridge for an hour.
2. To make the dumpling, you need to follow the same procedure I outlined in the Simple Noodle Recipe. Measure out the dry ingredients and place them into a bowl. Then very gradually add the water, a little at a time. In many cases, you won't need all of the water. You'll know that you are done when you have a stiff ball, and there's no more flour sticking to the side of the mixing bowl.
3. Knead the dough for 2 minutes. Then cover in plastic wrap. Let it sit for 30 minutes. If the dough is still very stiff after a half hour, you can let it sit for another 15 minutes.
4. Unwrap the dough and knead for another 2 minutes. Then make a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc about 7/10 inches thick, poke a hole right in the middle, and then pinch outwards to make a bagel. Keep pinching and squeezing until the "bagel" has a big hole.
5. Cut the "bagel" on one side. Roll it out to make a thin, long log. You can divide the log into three or four parts (just be sure to cover the ones that you are not using with plastic wrap to prevent drying).
6. Cut the log into small parcels between 9-15 grams (9 for smaller dumplings, 15 for big ones). See the picture.
7. Now the tricky part: Roll the parcels in the palm of your hand to make a small ball. Then press the ball with the palm of your hand to make a disc. Use the rolling pin to create a thin disc about 3.5 cm in diameter. Traditional chefs only roll out the edges of the disc and leave the middle of the dumpling skin a little thicker. Experience will tell you have much you need to roll it out, and how thin you can make it before compromising the integrity of the skin. My impression is that you are going for a skin that is thinner than what a pasta cutter at its lowest setting will give you.
8. Most cooks roll out the parcels first and then fill and fold the dumplings. If you do this, it's important to separate the layers of skins with cornstarch, otherwise the skins will stick. Also cover the skins to prevent drying.
9. Next comes the part that I have struggled with the most: the folding. Start by putting a dumpling in the palm of your non-dominant hand. Then put about 1 tablespoon of the fillings (more if you have bigger dumplings) right in the center of your skin. Use your hand to fold the dumpling in half. Again, experience will tell you how much filling you get into these skins!
10. To see how I seal, check out the pictures here. Basically, you want to create a fold.You'll bring in one of the ends to the middle to create "flaps." Press. Then tuck the other flap away from your body. Repeat on the other side. Press the edge of the dumpling to seal.
11. Store the dumplings on a surface dusted with lots of cornstarch (flour is ok, too). Don't let the dumplings touch each other, otherwise they will stick to each other.
12. You can freeze them at this point. Or cook them right away. Steaming takes about 15 minutes (make sure you have enough water in the pot). To boil, you want the water to come to a full boil. If you have a giant pot, you can put 12 in at a time (be careful not to splash the boiling water!). If you have a smaller pot, stick with about 6. Stir the dumplings to make sure they don't stick together.
13. Let the water return to a medium boil, then add about 6 ounces of cold water. Wait for the water to return to a medium boil. Repeat the same process two more times.
14. Serve with dipping sauce. I use chili, soy sauce, and black vinegar. My daughter consumes these simply with sweet soy sauce; my husbands skips the chili.