This versatile Chinese-style filling recipe can easily be adapted to one or two of our variations (below), or sub in other ground meat for the pork and almost any leafy vegetable or mushroom for the bok choy. Tofu adds moisture, but you can replace it with ground meat, if you prefer. Makes about 50 dumplings.
Pork and Bok Choy Dumplings
250 g ground pork
1 cup finely chopped baby bok choy
2/3 cup tofu, crumbled (see Tip, below)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp sesame oil (optional)
50 wonton wrappers (3-inch dia.)
1. In a large bowl, stir together pork, bok choy, tofu, and garlic until well combined.
2. In another bowl, stir together rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, and sesame oil (if using). Add to pork mixture; stir until combined.
3. Assemble dumplings. (You can simply folding a dumpling wrapper in half and seal it to make a triangle or a half-moon—see “Fill and fold dumplings,” below, for more details) and cook (see below).
Tip: Medium, firm, or extra-firm tofu work best. Asian grocery stores are a good source for rice wine, wrappers in various sizes and thicknesses (heftier wrappers for boiling or frying; thin ones for steaming), and other common dumpling add-ins, such as kimchi, Chinkiang vinegar, sesame oil, and Sichuan pepper.
Pork and Bok choy Variations
Beef Kimchi Filling: Replace ground pork with ground beef; bok choy with drained, finely chopped kimchi; and rice wine with orange juice. Replace garlic with 1 tsp grated fresh ginger.
Chicken Shrimp Filling: Replace ground pork with ground chicken, bok choy with fresh coriander, and tofu with chopped raw shrimp.
Spicy Sichuan-Style Wonton Oil
In a small, unheated saucepan, add 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped; 1 tsp ground Sichuan pepper;1 tsp ginger, finely chopped; and ½ tsp hot pepper flakes. In a second saucepan, heat ¼ cup vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Pour hot oil over ginger-garlic mixture; set aside to cool for 5 minutes. Stir together 2 tsp each sugar, Chinkiang (or balsamic) vinegar, sesame oil, and soy sauce; add to ginger-garlic oil. Serve drizzled over dumplings with chopped peanuts and fresh coriander scattered overtop. Makes about 1/3 cup.
Fill and fold
1. When your fillings are ready, assemble your dumpling gear on a clean work surface: a small knife or spreader; a small bowl of water; a baking sheet dusted with flour for your finished dumplings; and clean, damp tea towels to keep unused wrappers from drying out, to cover the finished dumplings, and to wipe your hands as you work.
2. Righties, place a wrapper in the palm of your left hand. Using a small knife or spreader, spread filling in the centre of the wrapper, leaving at least 1 cm clear around the edge. Don’t overfill: for 3-inch wrappers, use about 2 tsp filling—less if you’re a dumpling novice, more as your skills improve.
3. Using a finger, wet edges of wrapper; fold, pressing edges together to seal. Place finished dumplings on baking sheet, and cover with a damp cloth until you’re ready to cook them.
Cook and store
Boiling is fast, especially if you are batch-cooking, but dumplings can leak if edges aren’t well sealed. Drop fresh (or frozen) dumplings in a large pot of boiling water. When water returns to a boil, lower heat to boil gently. When dumplings float, keep cooking until filling is firm and cooked through, 2–3 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon.
Baking on an oven-safe wire rack on a baking sheet helps crisp dumplings. Spray dumplings lightly with oil. Bake at 425°F until an instant-read thermometer inserted in centre registers 160°F and edges are golden.
Steaming needs little of the cook’s attention and helps maintain intricate folds. To keep dumplings from sticking, line steamer basket loosely with parchment paper or a couple of lettuce or cabbage leaves. Pour about an inch of water into steamer pot and bring to a boil. Place basket with dumplings overtop, cover and steam until cooked through, 10–15 minutes.
Steam-frying creates the crisp bottom crust and soft top of potstickers and gyoza. In a heavy-bottomed or non-stick skillet, heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil over medium heat. Add dumplings in a single layer (seams up), and cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add enough water to pan to come about a third up the sides of dumplings. Cover and let steam until dumplings are cooked through, 7–10 minutes. Remove lid; cook until remaining water evaporates and bottom crust becomes crisp again.
Freezing uncooked dumplings is as simple as placing the entire baking sheet of dumplings in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer dumplings to a resealable plastic freezer bag. Frozen dumplings keep for up to 3 months. Cook from frozen as above.
These recipes originally appeared in the Winter 2019 issue of Cottage Life.