I've been longing for dumplings for a while now but since I've yet to discover a Chinese grocery store in Portland that wasn't 45 minutes away via bus, I've been thwarted. You say TJ has dumplings but I'm not partial to the thin wonton skin of the TJ dumpling. I want a thicker, chewier skin - a proper Chinese dumpling skin. So with that in mind, I decided to give making my own dumplings a try. But I wanted to do it completely from scratch, the way my big aunt used to do. A quick search on the internet came up with a few promising recipe; I mixed and matched until I found a combination that seemed reasonable. It really wasn't hard at all and I will definitely be doing this again, with adjustments (noted below).
I actually made the pork filling first, but since I can't be bothered to reorder the pictures now that they're in blogger I will discuss dough first. But it really is best to make filling first because I noticed the dough started drying out.
So for the dough, mix 2 cups of flour with 1 cup of hot water and mix to make a dough. Knead for about 5 minutes until smooth (I think I will use a bit more flour next time to hopefully achieve a chewier dough, I found an alternate recipe that calls for 2 cups of water for 1/2 cup of water). Divide the dough into two and roll each piece out into a cylinder 12 inches long. Cut 1/2 inch sections as shown:
For filling, combine the following:
1 pound ground pork
a bit more than 1/2 tbs freshly grated ginger (I would definitely use a lot more next time)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs minced scallions
2.25 tbs soy sauce
a bit less than 2 tbs sesame oil (I might add less next time actually, maybe just 1 tbs)
a bit more than half an egg
shy 3 cups of finely shredded napa cabbage
dash of ground white pepper
(next time add a couple of dashes of salt too)
You may wonder why these measurements are so peculiar, but I had to halve a recipe that would have generated 100 dumplings. Making 34 dumplings took about 1.5 hours and that was quite enough for me.
To make wrappers, roll out each little nubbin of dough to 3 inch circles. My attempts at circles were approximate at best, but it didn't really matter as long as you can stuff some meat in there and scrunch it up. The entire process would have been faster with a helper of course. But if you are a single girl (or boy), roll out 4-5 wrappers at a time and fill with meat. This prevents the wrappers from drying out. To make a dumpling, put in about a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper (this will vary depending on the size of the wrapper you rolled out, used best judgement here), dip a finger into water and wet the edge (half the circle) - there is no need to go crazy here, the dough is pretty soft. Then pinch the edges together and done! Next!
I think it's pretty obvious which ones were my first attempts:
And a closeup of some of the better lookings ones:
For the sauce, I usually combine three items: rice vinegar, soy sauce and a generous dollop of chili garlic sauce. I can't can't can't live life without chili garlic sauce.
I tested out fried dumplings and boiled dumplings and naturally fried won hands down. Since these were pretty big, it was easy to fry on all sides. The rest of the dumplings I lined up on a sheet of wax paper (not touching) and froze. When they are frozen I will stuff them in a bag and enjoy them in the days to come. Happiness!