Chinese Dumpling Recipe

as served at 2008 CFC Dumpling Festival

Dough

• 3 cups flour
• 1 cup water (may need 1 additional teaspoon of water if dough is too hard)

Put flour in food processor (or a large bowl), add water slowly and mix/knead until a nice dough forms. Knead again on a floured cutting board. Cover with a damp cloth and let dough rest 1 hour while you make the filling.

Meat or Vegetarian Filling

• 1 lb ground pork (for vegetarian omit meat and increase cabbage amount)
• 2 green onions, chopped fine (do not use food processor)
• 1 slice ginger, minced
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp sugar
• 1 Tbl soy sauce
• 1 Tbl cornstarch
• 1 egg (mix raw egg for meat filling but scramble the egg before mix in for vegetarian)

1/4 head of a Chinese/Napa cabbage, chopped fine (easiest to do in a food processor, but make sure the leaves are completely dry before you do so)—add a little salt and squeeze out the liquid. (As alternatives, you can also use 1/4 head of American cabbage or 1 rice bowl full of finely chopped Chinese/garlic chives, neither of which need to be salted or squeezed. You can use a food processor to chop the cabbage, but not for the chives.) Mix everything together.

Making the Wrappers or "Skins" (pi)

Shape the dough into a long cylinder about one inch in diameter, and cut the cylinder into 1/2 inch pieces. Roll each wad of dough into a ball just smaller than a walnut. Flatten each ball slightly with your palm, and dust with flour. It is important that they are all exactly the same size and shape. Then, on a floured cutting board, use a Chinese rolling pin (basically a one inch dowel) to roll from the outside of the flattened ball towards the center, then turn the ball a little, and repeat—roll, turn, roll, turn, roll, turn—until you get a relatively round, flat wrapper, about three inches in diameter. Ideally it should have a slight "pillow" in the center.

Filling the Dumplings

To make the dumpling, put one wrapper in the palm of your left hand and put a tablespoon of filling in the middle. The beginner’s way to seal the dumpling is to then fold the wrapper in half and press the edges together so that the dumpling assumes a half-circle shape. If you are using store-bought wrappers, dip your finger in some water, then run it along the outer edge of the wrapper before sealing.

There are many ways to crimp dumplings, but somebody may have to show you how, because it is too hard to explain with words. The key is to seal each dumpling tightly, without any meat or vegetables hanging out of the seam or else it will fall

Cooking the Dumplings

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put in 25-30 dumplings, and stir. Wait for the pot to come back up to a hard boil, then douse it with one cup of water. Wait for the pot to come back up to a boil, then douse it again. Repeat one more time (you bring the dumplings up to a boil a total of three times). They will float when done. Taste one to make sure. Do not overcook or the dumplings will fall apart. Lift out the dumplings with a bamboo strainer and put them on several large dinner plates to serve family style.

Dipping Sauce

Sometimes restaurants will mix the dipping sauce for you in the kitchen, but it is better if you mix it yourself to fit your own tastes. My father, for instance, prefers more vinegar; my mother prefers more soy sauce; I like a touch of sesame oil; my Aunt Suzie uses Worchester sauce. We keep soy sauce and vinegar in a set of pretty oil and vinegar bottles to bring to the table just for when we eat dumplings. Start by pouring equal portions, about a tablespoon each, of soy sauce and vinegar into your rice bowl, then add Chinese hot sauce to taste and maybe one drop of sesame oil. I like to use balsamic vinegar because it is spicier, but most people use rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Also, I think Yank Sing Chili Pepper Sauce is best, but any black bean hot sauce will work. In Shandong province where my other grandparents are from, dumplings are served with a raw clove of garlic, and you are supposed to take one bite of the garlic then one bite of your dumpling. That’s hot! For special occasions, you can also add garlic and ginger and cilantro to the dip, but I find them unnecessary if you have a good hot sauce.

• 1 Tbl soy sauce
• 1 Tbl vinegar
• 1/2 tsp Chinese hot sauce
• 1 drop of sesame oil (optional)