Dumplings come in an infinite number of shapes, sizes and styles, be savory or sweet and they are part of every country’s cuisine. They can be baked, braised, boiled, sautéed, fried or steamed and the filling ingredients can comprise of meats, seafood, vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and even cheeses. It all depends on the source country of the dumpling and its intended use.
Today’s dumplings are based on those found in many Asian cultures be it the Chinese versions – Jiaozi and Gow Gee, Japanese – Gyosa or Korean – Mandu. They are relatively easy to make, especially if you purchase pre-made Gow Gee, Gyosa or Mandu wrappers from an Asian grocer and absolutely delicious.
For those who can’t get their hands on pre-made wrappers, don’t worry I’ve set out the steps for making your own wrappers at home. It may take a little more time and effort, but it will be worth it.
Makes 4 -6 serves
450 grams of minced pork, chicken or beef (you could also use finely diced seafood)
1 onion (finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (finely minced)
1 thumb of ginger (finely chopped)
1 mild or hot chilli (to taste)
150 grams Chinese Cabbage (par cooked) *
1 cup chopped coriander
½ cup chopped parsley
pinch salt and pepper
2 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin, sake, Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
2 packets of Gyoza/Gow Gee/Mandu Wrappers
2 or 3 tablespoons of oil for frypan
water for dipping fingers into whilst forming the dumpling
1½ cups water when cooking the dumpling
1. In a large mixing bowl add meat and all other ingredients for filling, minus the cabbage. Mix thoroughly and set aside for 10 minutes so the flavours infuse.
2. Meanwhile, wash Chinese cabbage and place in a pot of boiling water which has a good pinch of salt and cook for 5 minutes so it softens. In the absence of Chinese cabbage, you can use bok choy, choy sum or even blanched spinach. The purpose of the greens is to soften and break-up the meat filling, so it has a lighter texture when cooked.
3. Remove cabbage from stove and discard hot water, refresh with cold water and when cool to touch remove from water and squeeze excess water from the cabbage so it forms a small solid mass. Chop coarsely and add to filling ingredients, mixing well so it is dispersed evenly.
To make dumplings
1. Take a wrapper and lay flat in front of you.
2. Take a small pellet of filling (approximately 1 heaped teaspoon full) and shape it into a ball or cylinder.
3. Imagine the wrapper in half and place filling in one of the half areas. I usually chose the half closest to me as I like to work towards me rather than away from my body.
4. Dip a finger in some water and rub it onto the edge of the wrapper all the way round. Then fold the half with no filling over the other half and gently press the wrapper edges together.
5. Carefully pick-up the semicircular disc and hold the sealed edge between the fingers of both hands. The idea is to gentle work your way around the sealed edge crimping it between your fingers. It generally takes 5 or 6 crimps to work your way along the entire sealed edge.
6. Lay completed dumpling on a cloth crimp edge up and continue forming remaining filling and wrappers.
Cooking the Dumpling
1. Take a heavy based pan with lid and large enough to hold all required gyoza you wish to cook (5 or 6 is an entree or snack per person and 12 is a main course serving) and coat with oil and heat.
2. Gently lay dumplings crimp edge upward across the entire surface of the pan so they are snugly packed and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.
3. Then pour water into hot pan so it sizzles, reduce heat to low and seal with pan lid. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until all the water has evaporated.
Be attentive you want to stop cooking the dumplings just as the final bit of liquid evaporates – if you let the pan cook dry for too long and your dumplings will be very burnt.
4. Remove from pan to serving plates and accompany with a dipping sauce of your choice.
Traditionally these dumplings are served with a sweet soy and honey dipping sauce, but plain soy sauce works and so too does hot or sweet chilli sauce or even plum sauce.
If you can’t get pre-made dumpling wrappers, here is two ways to make your own at home.
2½ cups plain flour (sifted)
1 teaspoon potato, corn or tarro flour/starch
good pinch of salt
½ to ¾ cup water
1. Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and gradually add the water until all the dry ingredients come together to form a ball.
2. Turn out onto a smooth surface and knead the ball of dough repeatedly for 4-5 minutes until it is smooth and has a shiny outer surface. If necessary, sprinkle some flour on the work surface whilst kneading to soak up any excess moisture.
3. Return the dough to the bowl and cover with cling film or a damp towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
4. When ready to form the wrappers you have two options
A. Cut the ball of dough into 2 or 3 even pieces.
- i. Using a rolling pin, gently roll each piece into a flat sheet approximately ½ mm thick.
Tip – you will need to dust the work surface and the dough as you roll to prevent it from sticking as it thins.
- ii. Then use a round disc shaped cutter to stamp out the individual wrappers. The disc cutter you use should be between around 8 cm in diameter.
- Note – any discarded pieces of dough can be crumpled together and re-kneaded and rolled to for more dumpling wrapper.
- iii. Lay the wrappers flat and individually before use – do not stack them.
B. Alternatively, cut the ball of dough into 4 equal pieces.
- i. Take one of the pieces and roll it into a sausage log shape of dough approximately 2 cm in diameter.
ii. Using a knife cut the log into a number of equal sections (say 1 cm wide) and then form each section into a round ball by rolling it in your hands.
iii. Once the ball has been formed, flatten each ball into a disc shape with the palm of your hand and slowly roll it with a rolling pin so it thins and increases in size. Work one ball/disc at a time.
iv. You want the disc of dough to be approximately 8-9 cm across and about ½ mm thick.
Note – you want the disc to grow in size evenly so turn it repeatedly each time you roll it thinner.
Tip – be sure to flour the disc and work surface repeatedly as you work to stop it sticking.
This second way of making dumpling wrappers is the traditional way, the more practice you do the more regular and easier the discs are to form.