We all love to try different dishes from different parts of the world. In as much as I am against cultural appropriation especially in food spaces, I also like to encourage people to try and experience different cuisines from around the world. Doing so in appreciation and not appropriation. Thus I am taking my own advice by stepping out of my culinary comfort zone in my first attempt at making Chinese pork dumplings. I followed the recipe of one of the best Asian American food creators, Lisa Lin of Healthy Nibbles and Bits. The Sacramento based recipe creator has an array of Asian recipes that are all so mouthwatering. Many of which are popular favorite take-outs across the world, but have you ever tried making your favorite take out? You will get to really understand how the flavors come together which in turn creates a stronger appreciation for the cuisine.
I usually make a variety of dishes in my everyday life as my palate craves. My go-to Asian meals range from stir-fries, noodle soups, rice dishes, and so on. However, I have never tried making dumplings and to be honest, it really was the last option within my comfort zone, but I wanted to push myself. It was tricky; the results were not perfect, but it was worth the experience. Although trying global foods can be intimidating, so long as you begin with patience, openness, and appreciation, it will be worth it. So why not try cooking up something out of your ordinary? Trust me, if I can do it, then yes, you can too!
Key Recipe Notes for Making Pork Dumplings:
I had all intentions to follow the recipe to the T. However, I had to make a few changes based on what I could find locally. Additionally, my measurement tools are different from what was used in the original recipe.
- You will find the original recipe for the Dumpling wrappers here and the pork and cabbage potstickers here.
- The original recipe calls for scallions but there were none available in my local grocery store in Milan so I substituted with shallots.
- Alternatively to the tapioca starch that the original recipe calls for, I used potato starch.
- I also used sunflower oil instead of canola which is not a common oil here in Milan, Italy.
- Please read the full recipe and check the ingredients you have available before attempting to make this recipe!
For Potsticker Wrappers:
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 3/4 cups warm water
For Pork Filling:
- 338kg ground pork
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 1/2 cup chopped cabbage
- 1 shallot (chopped)
- 2 garlic clove (finely chopped)
- 1 thumb size ginger (finely chopped)
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp water
Step-by-Step Recipe Instructions:
Making Dumpling Wrappers:
- Mix the water and flour together in a bowl. Use your hands to gather all the crumbly pieces together to form a dough.
- Transfer the dough to a working surface and knead for 2-3 minutes. Dusting the surface of dough with flour is not necessary unless it becomes too sticky, then you can sprinkle a little flour.
- Knead to form a ball but it doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover with a kitchen towel and rest for 45 minutes. (In the meantime you can start making the pork and cabbage filling)
Making Pork and Cabbage Filling:
- Heat the sunflower oil in a pan over medium heat and once hot, add the cabbage, ginger, garlic and shallots. cook for 2 minutes while continually stirring. stir in a fourth of the teaspoon of kosher salt. Remove from heat, transfer to a plate and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
- In a bowl mix the ground pork, potato starch and water together using a wooden spoon for about a minute. You should hear a squishy sound.
- Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar and the remaining kosher salt. Stir together, then also add the cooled vegetables and mix them all together.
Continue with the dumplings and prepare your wrapping station:
- Remove the dough from the bowl and knead a few more times.
- Make a hole in the middle of the dough and stretch it out to form a large ring.
- Cut out small pieces of about 1 tablespoon each from the dough and roll into balls. Cover the dough with a kitchen towel/napkin during this process, so it doesn’t dry out.
- Take each ball and flatten it with your palms to form a disc. Using a rolling pin, roll into the entire surface of the disc to flatten it some more. According to Lisa “Your rolling pin never leaves the surface. Use your left and to rotate the disc 90 degrees and roll over the entire surface again. Repeat this two more times until you have rolled out the dough for two revolutions. If the disc is sticking to the rolling pin, brush it with some flour.”
- Repeat this for the third time but only on the outer edges of the disc. This way the centre is thick enough to hold the filling and the outer edges are thin and pliable.
NOTE: You can roll out all the wrappers and save them for later. However, if you have your fillings ready, you can fill each wrapper and make the dumplings as you go. Before you start making the dumplings, grab a tray or baking sheet where you can place the finished dumplings. Also, grab a towel to cover the sealed dumplings, this will keep them from drying out. Have the bowl with the filling nearby and get a spoon for scooping the dumpling filling.
Making the dumplings:
- Scoop about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoon of the fillings into the centre of the rolled out dumpling wrapper. since you are using freshly made wrappers, you will not need to moisten the edges.
- Hold the wrapper with the filling in your right hand, then pinch the outer edge together.
- Using your index finger creates splits on the side of the wrapper that is facing away from you. simultaneously guide the filling from falling off with your thumb. Fasten and seal the dumpling on the right side.
- Transfer to a floured tray or baking sheet and cover the dumpling with a dry towel so that they do not dry out.
- Continue making dumplings, rolling each wrapper at a time, until all the wrappers and fillings are finished.
What this video by Lisa Lin on how to make potsticker dumplings to guide you.
Cooking the dumplings:
- Place a non-stick pan over medium-high heat and pour 1 1/2 tablespoon of sunflower oil. Place the dumplings in the pan. I was able to fit in 8 to 10 pieces at a time, depending on the sizes of the dumplings (yes my dumplings were not all even).
- Fry for 2-3 minutes. Grab a pan to shield yourself, then pour 1/4 cup of water into the pan and immediately place the lid over the pan. Reduce the heat and cook for 5-6 minutes.
- Remove the lid and allow the dumplings to cook another minute until the water is evaporated.
- Transfer the cooked dumplings to a plate and repeat with all the other dumplings (you can also freeze some for late)
Serve and enjoy with some sauces i.e soy sauce or sweet chilli sauce.