In eastern cultures, strong family values and collectivism are the essential building blocks of society. It is commonplace in traditional Chinese households to be intergenerational, where we see the families have up to three or four generations living under one roof. In today’s China, while you may not see great grandma sending the young ones off to school on a day-to-day basis as you may have hundreds of years ago, the focus on family remains.
Multiple times a year family members from near and far gather to share smiles, laughs and, of course, food! One of the best and easiest meals to make as a group are dumplings. Whether you’re a school or host parent, this could be a great weekend activity to bond with your student and maybe even some of their schoolmates, no matter the background. Especially because and dumplings hold symbolic meaning and are eaten in celebration of the new year. The process of making the filling can be tedious and delicate depending on the flavor that one might want. But no matter the taste, the process is sure to be one that brings the group together.
Family recipes are often close-kept secrets, and details are hardly ever divulged to non-family members. Some recipes may even have unique traditions such as only stirring the dumpling filling clock-wise when mixing. While many students will hold fond childhood memories of making dumplings, some may not have reached the age where adults would teach them so they might not know the dumpling making process.
There are four steps to making dumplings:
- Dumpling wrappers;
- Dumpling filling;
- Cooking; and
- Dumpling sauce.
From experience, we can tell you that you do not want to have to deal with making the wrappers. That is a complicated process and not at all where the fun is — you are much better off heading to your nearest Chinatown or Asian food store and purchasing wrappers there.
Store-bought gyoza skins, as well as white (for steaming) or yellow dumpling (for frying) wrappers, will work just fine.
Combine all ingredients and stir clockwise (that’s VERY important). Remove a small amount of filling, fry for 30 seconds, taste and adjust sauces. If too salty, add more oyster sauce. If too sweet, add more soy sauce.
Set aside in a refrigerator.
- 1 pound ground pork
- 12oz raw uncooked medium-size shrimp, diced
- 1 bunch of scallions, white part roughly chopped (reserve green part for sauce)
- 1 knob of ginger, minced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 can water chestnuts, chopped
- 1 chili, diced
- 1/4 cup tamari sauce (if you are using soy sauce only use 1/3 cup)
- 1/3 cup oyster sauce
- 1/3 Chinese cooking wine
- 1 Tbsp veggie stock
- 1 Tsp peanut or sesame oil
To wrap the dumplings, apply edges of each wrapper with water. Put about a tablespoon of filling in the middle. Fold the circle in half and pinch the wrapper together at the top. Then make two folds on each side, until the dumpling looks like a fan and completely sealed. Repeat again!
To steam, bring roughly 2 inches of water with a steamer insert to a boil. Place dumplings on steamer insert, cover and steam for approximately 7 minutes.
To boil, bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. One at a time, place dumplings into the boiling water until the surface is simmering. Boil dumplings on medium-high heat for 10 minutes (or when all dumplings can float to the top of the water).
To pan fry (the most difficult of the three)
You will need to prepare:
- 1/4 cup White wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup boiling water
- 1 (really very high quality) non stick fry-pan with a lid
- 1 plate with a similar diameter to fry-pan
- 3 Tbsp peanut oil
Combine water and vinegar in a measuring cup. Heat peanut oil on medium to high heat. Arrange dumplings in the pan so as all the edges are touching and you can’t see much of the bottom of the pan (as you arrange them slide them around to get a good coating of oil on one side).
Continue shaking the pan and leaving it on the heat for roughly 5 minutes. The goal here is to partially cook the dumplings while browning the underside and without letting them stick to the bottom. It’s ok if they stick to each other.
Moving quickly, pour the water and vinegar mixture into the pan. Cover tightly, holding the lid down while continuing to move between shaking the pan and leaving it on the heat for another 5 minutes.
Lastly, remove the lid and place a plate upside down on the frying pan, flipping the frying pan over so the plate is on the bottom and filled with dumplings.
Combine all of the below ingredients in an airtight container, and mix well. Set aside in a refrigerator.
- The leftover green part of scallions, sliced
- 1 knob of ginger, sliced
- 3 cloves of garlic, sliced
- 1 chili, diced
- 1/3 cup black vinegar
- 1 Tsp peanut or sesame oil
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