If you think frozen pork dumplings from the store are addictive, then just you wait until you try these homemade fellas. They are everything you want in a dumpling: plump and nicely chewy, filled with tender pork, flavored with fresh ginger, green onion, and sesame oil. Bet you can't eat just one.
Whether you're celebrating the Lunar New Year with friends this week or stocking your freezer for a busy month ahead, these dumplings should definitely be on your list. Here's a step-by-step recipe to show you how to make them.
Pork dumplings, or jiaozi, are the quintessential dish of Lunar New Year celebrations, which usually occur in late January or February. Because of their resemblance to gold ingots, dumplings represent wishes of prosperity and fortune in the coming year. Making dumplings is also a group effort, so New Year celebrations are good times to get together to make — and eat! — several batches.
Even if you're not celebrating the New Year, dumplings are a good project to tackle with a few friends — the recipe I give here makes about 80 little dumplings, and many hands make the otherwise tedious task of folding each one fly by. Afterward, split them up, and you each have a few dinners you can stash in your freezer!
Where to Find Dumpling Wrappers
I use store-bought dumpling (or gyoza) wrappers to make my dumplings — they're dependable and easy to find and use. Look for them near the tofu in the produce section of your grocery store, or plan a trip to your nearest Asian market.
If you want the extra fun of making your own dumpling wrappers, I will direct you to the dumpling expert, Andrea Nguyen. Here are her recipes for homemade wrappers:
One more shout-out here! The recipe I use below is a slight adaptation of one of our earliest Kitchn recipes: Kenny Lao's Rickshaw Dumplings. This is the recipe that introduced me to the delicious possibilities of the homemade dumpling, for which I will be eternally grateful.
To make pork dumplings, you'll need Napa cabbage, ground pork, scallions, cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil.
How To Make Pork Dumplings
Makes 70 to 80 dumplings
What You Need
1/2 medium head Napa cabbage (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pound ground pork
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1 bunch cilantro, minced (about 3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2-inch piece fresh ginger, grated on a microplane or finely minced (about 3 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 large eggs, whisked
1 (12-ounce) package round dumpling, wonton, or gyoza wrappers
Mixing bowls of various sizes
Measuring cups and spoon
Skillet with lid, to cook
Instructions for Assembling Dumplings
Slice the cabbage and mix with salt: Slice the half-head of cabbage down its length, through the root, to make 2 quarters. Then slice each quarter into very thin strips, cutting cross-wise. Toss the slices with the salt in a large mixing bowl and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes.
Squeeze the liquid from the cabbage: While it rests with the salt, the cabbage will start to release liquid. When it's ready, grab handfuls of the cabbage and squeeze out the water. Transfer the squeezed cabbage to another mixing bowl.
Combine the cabbage with the rest of the filling ingredients: To the bowl with the squeezed cabbage, add the ground pork, sliced scallions, cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, and eggs. Work the mixture together with your hands until fully combined.
Arrange your dumpling-making station: Clear a large space on the counter. Set a small bowl of water, the bowl of filling, and a parchment-lined baking sheet nearby. Open the package of dumpling wrappers and arrange a few on the work space in front of you.
Place 1 scant tablespoon of filling on each dumpling wrapper: It doesn't look like much filling, but using any more gets messy and makes the dumplings hard to pleat closed! Once you get the hang of pleating the dumplings, you can try adding a bit more.
Dampen the edge of the wrapper with water: Dip your finger in the bowl of water and run it around the edge of the dumpling. This will help it to seal closed.
Fold the dumpling in half: Lift the dumpling from the work surface and fold it in half. Press the top closed.
Make a pleat in either side: Use your opposite thumbs to fold a tiny pleat on either side of the dumpling, then press firmly to seal the dumpling closed. You may need to dab a little water under the pleat to make it stick closed.
Repeat with all the wrappers and filling: Continue filling and pleating the rest of the wrappers using the remaining filling — this is where having a few extra hands comes in handy! As you finish each dumpling, line it up on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Cook or freeze the dumplings: You can cook the dumplings immediately, or freeze them on the baking sheet. Once frozen solid, gather them into a freezer container and keep frozen for up to 3 months.
If you get ambitious, you can also play around with other pleats or shapes for the dumplings. See this post for more ideas!
Instructions for Cooking the Dumplings
Sear the dumplings in a skillet: Film a skillet with about a tablespoon of oil and warm over high heat. When the oil is shimmering, arrange the dumplings in the pan as close as they'll fit without actually touching. Cook until the bottoms have turned brown and golden.
Add 3 tablespoons of water to the pan: Pour 3 tablespoons of water in the pan — the water will immediately sizzle and begin to steam.
Cover the pan and lower the heat: Cover the pan immediately and reduce the heat to low. (If your skillet doesn't have a lid, cover with a baking sheet.)
Cook the dumplings for 3 to 5 minutes if fresh, or 6 to 8 minutes if frozen: When done, the wrappers will appear translucent and noodle-like; the filling will be opaque and warmed through (you can cut one open to check).
Transfer to a plate and serve: Transfer the cooked dumplings to a plate and serve with soy sauce or other dipping sauce.
Steamed dumplings: Line a steamer basket with parchment and steam over simmering water for about 6 minutes if fresh, 8 minutes if frozen.
Boiled dumplings: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the dumplings. Stir so they don't stick together. Add 1 1/2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil again. Add another 1 1/2 cups of cold water and bring to a boil a third time. Check one dumpling to make sure they are cooked through; boil another few minutes if necessary.
Leftover filling: Depending on how generously you filled your dumplings, you may have a little filling left over. Leftover filling is fantastic formed into small meatballs or patties and fried in a skillet. Serve them on top of salad or stuffed into pitas.
Leftover wrappers: Again, depending on how generously you filled your dumplings, you may have a few wrappers left over. The wrappers will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for a week or so and can be used to make weeknight raviolis, like this recipe for Minty Pea and Arugula Wonton Ravioli.
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(Image credits: Kimberley Hasselbrink; Emma Christensen)