June 17, 2009

From the Daring Kitchen: Dumplings

The June 2009 challenge is hosted by Jen from use real butter. She has chosen Chinese dumplings/potstickers as the challenge.

For various reasons, I missed the inaugural Daring Cooks challenge of ricotta gnocchi. I would not miss the second one for the world, though. If you know my cooking, you know that dumplings (gyoza in Japanese) are right up my alley. My wife absolutely loves Chinese steamed buns, baozi (包子), also extremely popular in Vietnam, and I have tinkered around with some recipes for those. They use a very simple leavened dough and can be filled with virtually anything (my favorite are red bean paste and sesame paste).

I don't have much experience with gyoza, though, so this month's challenge was still a challenge. Unlike steamed buns, the dough for these puppies is unleavened and oh so simple. It is:
2 cups all-purpose flour (250g)
½ cup warm water (113g)
I strongly suggest weighing the ingredients and not trying to halve the dough (the voice of experience speaking). Flour is cheap, right?

Assemble the dough in a large bowl or with the dough blade of a food processor. Jen's blog post has plenty of pictures (hence the dearth of pictures in my post), but the most important part is the consistency of the dough. I did two separate batches and both came out of the food processor firm and the slightest bit sticky. After 2-3 minutes of kneading, thought, they were soft and silky to the touch. That silky texture was perfect for rolling and filling the wrappers.

Making the filling is the easy part, so look at the recipe on Jen's blog post. K. doesn't like most of the ingredients, so I only used:
1 lb. ground pork
7 shitake mushrooms, minced
¼ cup ginger root (55g), minced
3 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. cornstarch
The filling cohered beautifully and filled the kitchen with the delightful aroma of sesame oil.

If possible, it tasted even better than it smelled.

Before filling the dumplings, though, you need to make the wrappers. Form the dough into a flattened dome and slice it into several strips. Roll out the strips into cylinders and cut discs ¾" thick and ¾" in diameter. On a floured workspace, press each disc flat with your palm. Roll each disc out to form the wrappers.

Note: the wrappers are supposed to be round. You can always use a biscuit cutter to shape them. Or, just run with the misshapen ones.

Fill the wrappers with about a teaspoon and a half of filling. Follow Jen's instructions for folding and pleating the dumplings.

You can even make wontons for wonton soup from the reject wrappers!

I will also bow to Jen's expertise on cooking the dumplings. You can steam, boil, or panfry (my preferred method) them. I do, however, suggest that you cook them immediately after assembling them. The dough tends to get stickier as it sits, and we let several dozen rest for too long.

We steamed and panfried them, and the results were delicious. Homemade dumplings are much better than anything you can buy elsewhere. The filling for this particular recipe is flavorful. The wrappers are extremely fun to work with (not sure this counts for much, but K. said that assembling the dumplings was the most fun she has ever had helping me in the kitchen) and a great texture.

A great, simple dough + tasty filling = great fun to be had by all. Get thee to the kitchen!

(My apologies for the fact that this post reads contains even less insightful commentary than usual. I really don't have much to say that Jen has not already said in her exhaustive blog post.)


  1. Beautiful job! They look perfect and delicious!

  2. You had a lot to say. I like that you pointed out the difference in dough between these dumplings and the steamed ones with the leavened dough. Great photo of the finished pot stickers on the wonderful black and white plate! Glad you are a Daring Cook!

  3. Well what an effort you put in and the last photo is so stylish love that black/white pattern. Thanks for the nice comments on my blog.

  4. You go, hon! That is just awesome and your potstickers look faboo. And yes, it is definitely more fun to have people helping you make the dumplings (sometimes after I make a double batch by myself, I just want to cuss) :) xxoo

  5. Your potstickers look fantastic! I had a hard time making mine perfectly round but that doesn't matter. It adds to the charm ;)

  6. Wow--they look so absolutely scrumptious. I am embarassed about being the only one who doesn't know how to pleat food. :) Great job on the challenge!

  7. Like everything else these days, I missed this challenge. Ugh.

    Your dumplings look great though!

  8. Your dumplings turned out great! I also had a really hard time getting the wrapping to turn out "round" but who cares, they tasted so good! Great job!

  9. mmm i wouldn't mind having those right now for dinner! or rather second dinner :)