Does anyone need an excuse to eat dumplings, ever? We will happily travel some distance for an excellent dumpling, whether to the incredible xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, at The Bao on St. Mark’s Place or to one of the dim sum palaces in Sunset Park. But if you don’t want to schlep yourself to a dumpling emporium, we’re here to help. If you’ve never made your own dumplings before, you’re in for a treat.
Lunar New Year, which this year begins on February 8, has been celebrated for centuries in countries with large Chinese populations, from Macau to the Philippines to the United States. Over a fifteen-day period, fireworks are set off, red envelopes containing money are exchanged, elaborate lion dances are performed, and–best of all–lots of symbolic delicacies are consumed. Noodles portend longevity, clementines may lead to romance, raw fish salad confer luck, and dumplings bring prosperity. Thought to represent gold or silver ingots, there are as many types of dumplings are there are provinces in China, so feel to experiment with the fillings below if you’re feeling adventurous. The holiday lasts for two weeks, after all!
These are two simple, dare we say fail-safe, dumpling recipes that will delight whoever has the good luck to sit down for a Lunar New Year meal with you. One is a fried dumpling stuffed with pork and aromatics, and the other is steamed, with a delicate shrimp and cilantro filling. They are both juicy and delicious, and thanks to the ubiquity of dumping wrappers in supermarkets, much easier than you might imagine. If you have willing accomplices, folding and pleating the dumplings can be a lot of fun even for little fingers.
1 pound ground pork
½ cup scallion, finely chopped
1 cup bok choy or napa cabbage, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 package of round dumpling wrappers
peanut or vegetable oil for frying
Combine all the filling ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
Put about 1-2 teaspoons of filling in the center of the wrapper. With your finger, moisten around the edges with water. Then fold the wrapper in half over the filling to create a semi circle. Seal the edges by pinching the two sides together tightly. (You may refrigerate dumplings up to a day or freeze for a few weeks).
Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with the oil and heat over medium heat. Place the dumplings in the pan leaving space between them. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes then add ½ cup of water to the pan, cover and steam for 2 more minutes. Remove lid and cook until liquid evaporates.
Remove dumplings from pan and serve immediately with dipping sauce (see recipe below) and chili oil. We love Brooklyn Wok Shop chili oil on just about everything.
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 scallion sliced thin
½ tsp sesame seeds
Stir first three ingredients together in bowl then garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.
Makes approximately 50 dumplings
Shrimp and Cilantro Open-Topped Dumplings
1 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine, rice vinegar or mirin
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined, divided in half
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, divided in half
1/2 cup roughly chopped scallions, white parts only
20-24 round dumpling skins
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
Combine soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil and ginger in a bowl. Place half the shrimp, half the cilantro and all the scallions in a food processor and pulse; add just enough of the soy mixture to create a smooth paste, about 1 to 2 tablespoons. Transfer to a bowl. Roughly chop the remaining shrimp and cilantro, add them to the bowl and stir to combine.
Place a dumpling skin on a work surface, moisten the edges with water, and put 1 teaspoon of the filling in the center. Gather the edges of the wrapper up around the filling, squeezing gently, to pleat the sides; some of the filling should remain exposed. You can make four, five or six-sided dumplings. Repeat with the remaining dumpling skins and filling.
Place a bamboo steamer in a large pot over an inch of water; bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Put as many dumplings in the steamer as you can fit in a single layer and cover the pot. Cook until the exposed filling turns pink and the wrappers are tender, 4 to 6 minutes, then transfer the dumplings to a serving platter. Repeat with the remaining dumplings. Stir lime juice and sesame seeds into soy mixture and serve as dipping sauce.
Adapted from The Minimalist