Follow these tips and tricks, and excellent dumplings are soon to be yours.
Albany John was on the phone with our buddy, Mountain Man. Mountain Man was asking about dumplings, and I have about a million opinions on dumpling making, so instead of wrangling the phone out of Albany John’s hands, I said I’d make a post for him. Here you are, Mountain Man – your very own dumpling post (best of all, you can make a ton of them for under $6):
- Don’t bother with making your own dumpling skin. It’s great if you can, but on the whole it’s a lot fussier than just buying packages of dumpling skins for $1.25 a pack. If you are making dumplings, you are looking (in general) to make more than two dozen, so it benefits your time value of money to buy pre-made skins/wrappers.
- If you’re buying skins, the ones labeled “Dumpling” are thicker than those labeled “Wonton”. If you like chew, choose the rounded dumplings. If you like tender, thin skins go with the square wonton wrappers.
- You can fold your dumplings a variety of ways. You can make the edges line up all neat and pretty-like, or you can just squeeze them together.
- Whatever meat you choose, go for a coarse grind. It’ll give a richer mouth feel. Thinner grinds tend to feel mealy, or turn into mush when mixing the other ingredients in.
- Pork is an awesome meat filling to use.
- Make sure the ground meat has a decent fat ratio. 20-30% fat will give you a rich flavor throughout the meat. Any leaner and you risk the meat tasting too grainy and dry.
- Napa cabbage is a cheap and delicious vegetable mix-in. It’s under $1/lb and adds a nice firm texture and freshness to dumplings. You can pretty much add 1/2 head of shredded napa cabbage per 1.5 lbs of meat.
- Basic, easy filling = Meat + Napa Cabbage.
- SHRED AND SALT THE NAPA CABBAGE. This is very important (sorry for shouting, but that’s how important it is). Shred the cabbage (box grater, food processor, fine mincing – whatever). Line a colander with a tea towel and put the napa cabbage in it. Sprinkle & mix with salt – About 1 T Kosher salt. This draws out excess moisture, and leaves you with pieces of cabbage that mix smoothly and is evenly dispersed throughout the filling. After 30 minutes, ring out the cabbage in the tea towel and proceed with the filling. This will prevent your cooked dumplings from becoming water-logged and soggy.
- You can add whatever other ingredients to the basic filling. I usually go for sesame oil, vermouth, white pepper, and a dash of soy sauce. Feel free to experiment by adding some seafood, other spices/herbs, or additional veggies.
- Boil, steam, or fry dumplings if they are neatly sealed. If you lightly/haphazardly pinch the edges together, or make them as siu mai (i.e., not sealed at the top), steaming is your best bet. It might take longer than boiling or frying, but it’s pretty much fool-proof. About 8-12 minutes in a steamer will cook them.
- Trust me, you do not want to try boiling or frying a dumpling that is not completely sealed. Explosion City.