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I recently went to my daughter’s school’s Mid-Autumn Festival (she attends a Chinese Immersion school) and one of the teachers – the lovely Ms. Eda – was demonstrating homemade dumpling making using her mother’s recipe. I had to create the wrappers and the dipping sauce for myself, of course, but this lovely filling is all thanks to her willingness to share. So – much thanks to Eda for these authentic tasting Chinese Dumplings!

This is a prep-time intensive recipe. I made the filling one day, and the dough and dumplings the next because I really didn’t have the time to do it all at once. The filling was certainly more flavorful by day 2 but as long as you keep it in the fridge it shouldn’t spoil (although it does kind of pickle). Also – there are a few tools that are mighty handy to have for this endeavor, although a creative mind can get around them. They include a pasta press and dumpling press. Also, I would recommend reading this one all the way through before commencing the project, because there’s a lot of steps and knowing what they are in advance will save you time.

Let’s start with the Filling:

  • 2 cups Napa cabbage
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh ginger root, finely shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 scallons, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Chinese Rice Wine (Shaoxing)  (we used Sushi rice vinegar but Eda said dry sherry also works)
  • 1 Tablespoon gluten free soy sauce. Most Krogers carry the San-J brand in their Asian section.
  • 2 teaspoons Asian sesame oil (this is really important for flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 oz. thickly ground pork (or chicken/turkey/other meat), browned and drained of grease
  • (optional – I didn’t use these) 8 oz peeled, de-veined shrimp, coarsely chopped
  • Other vegies shredded, as desired – some thoughts include mushrooms and carrots
  • kosher salt (or table salt in a pinch)

Directions (for filling):

Finely chop your cabbage [Eda said you could use a food processor on pulse, or – like I did – slice it by hand. It needs to be REALLY thin slices so you might consider a cheese slicer. If you use the whole cabbage, multiply the recipe by about 3. You’ll also need two of the dough recipes to use it all, or you can freeze the leftover filling for later]. Then sprinkle the salt on the cabbage. This causes the cabbage to release its moisture, which is really important because “it keeps the wrapper from tearing.” I used regular table salt, in small amounts, tossing the mix by hand until it felt ‘right.’ That worked.

Then you set the salt-cabbage aside and get together the rest of the ingredients, making sure to drain any excess grease from the meats. Set the new mix aside and grab a clean kitchen towel before going back to your cabbage. Dump your cabbage into the towel, wrap it up and squeeze all the water out that you can. This takes some time and the cabbage turns into this sort of lump of battered green stuff, but that’s OK. After the cabbage is well squeezed, you can toss all the ingredients together and let them sit at least twenty minutes.

Wrapper Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 cup rice flour (I used 1/2 brown & 1/2 white rice from Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 2 tablespoons oil (any)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • Potato starch for kneading dough

Directions (Filling):

Mix your dry ingredients first, then add the oil and water. It’ll be thick and the final blending may need to be done by hand. I spray oiled the bowl and let it sit a few minutes after I finished mixing it, then I kneaded it in the bowl just a little. You’ll want to get some saran wrap to keep the extra dough covered in the bowl while you work with it or it’ll dry out really fast.

Flour your work surfaces, and – hopefully – your pasta press. I used potato starch to flour my surfaces because much more tapioca would cause it to become gummy, and much more rice leads to crumbles. So. First, I pinched off a fistful (about half a cup) of dough, and then I rolled it out on my floured counter top with a floured rolling pin. When I’d gotten it pretty thin, I put it into my Pasta Press and rolled it thinner. If you don’t have this, try rolling it as thin as you can get it by hand.

Then I got out the handy-dandy dumpling presses I picked up somewhere. You can use a cup or a biscuit cutter or cut them by hand as long as no small children are around to hear you swear. I cut out as many of the smallest size dumplings as I could from the dough strip, then kneaded the excess dough back into the batch and started again. With the pasta press I would only get about 4 per sheet of dough, so it was slow work but the dough wasn’t prone to tearing as long as I got it down to about a quarter of an inch before trying to press it.

To form the dumplings themselves, leave the dough on the press (or loosen it from the counter and set it on saran wrap). Place about a tablespoon of filling on one side of the dough, then run a moistened finger around the edge of the circle. Flop the un-laden side on top and use the press to seal or pinch with your fingers/a fork if not using the dumpling press. Set each ‘batch’ of dumplings on a piece of saran wrap and re-flour the counter and your tools as needed.

In the meantime…

Cooking Directions:

There are two ways to cook dumplings. Steamed and Fried. Both are lovely, depending on who you ask in my household. The husband likes crispy, the kiddo likes them steamed. When you have a batch of about 8-10 dumplings ready you’ll want to cook them. The dough makes about 30 dumplings all told, so expect 3-4 batches.

For Steamed Dumplings

These are actually boiled. Yeh. I know, it always says steamed on the menu right?

So – get a large pot and toss in some water and salt. Bring it to a boil then drop in your dumplings. You don’t want them to touch, so be careful of over-crowding. I monitor them most of the 3-5 minutes it takes for them to be “done” (which equals floating to the top). I found gluten free dumplings are more ‘float-ready’ and I had to do a lot of turning them over or one side stayed out of the water the whole while. I used a slotted soup spoon to fish them out and set them on a plate to cool. Careful to not let them touch on the plate. They’re sticky!

For Fried Dumplings

Surprise! You’ll be frying, boiling, and frying again to get that delicious taste.

Place about 2 TB of oil in a skillet and get it sizzling. Then put in your dumplings bottom (fat side) down. I couldn’t get mine to stand up, so I just flipped them halfway through and no-one noticed. Cook them for 1 or 2 minutes.

After they’ve gotten lightly golden, add between 1/2 and 1 cup of water to the pan and let it boil back out (about 4 minutes). I flip them again halfway through. Magically, they’ll start frying again as soon as the water’s gone and you’ll want to let them crisp up for a minute or two again before pulling them out and placing them on a plate. Remember not to let them touch until after they’ve cooled a little or they’ll stick.

Now, for the Dipping Sauce

We made ours similar to the sauce provided for dipping dumplings in at the lovely China Jade restaurant in Front Royal, Virginia that we used to frequent. You may need to vary the spices to taste.

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons San-J gluten free soy sauce
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes (yes, like the red pepper from Mexico)
  • dash ground ginger

Directions:

Mix the ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave until hot. Let cool slightly (it’s best still warm), then serve.

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