Recipe: Chinese dumplings / potstickers for Lunar New Year

I love exploring different cultures through food, and cooking at home is a way to stay in touch with my own. One of the first dishes I learned from Mom was dumplings. They’re ubiquitous in Asian cuisine, and traditionally eaten on Chinese New Year as they symbolize wealth and prosperity. I wouldn’t mind a little good fortune, but more importantly these remind me of family. I have the fondest childhood memories of perching around a table with my extended family, in a dumpling assembly line. My work product was easy to identify - they were always the most deformed…err, creative shapes.
I’ve received many requests via Instagram to post recipes, so am sharing this today in honor of Lunar New Year. I had an amazing time celebrating the holiday in Canton two years ago (see post), and will just be enjoying some home cooking today.
dumpling folding
I love this dish as it’s adaptable for vegetarians (see example veggie recipe) and other dietary preferences. I make these for friends, potlucks, you name it. It’s simple enough for beginners, and easy to make extras with and freeze. The most difficult step is probably finding dumpling wrappers if you don't have an Asian grocery store nearby.
dumpling folding3
I'll start with the basic core ingredients for 1 batch of dumplings, which can be altered to your desires. As with most Chinese cooking - it's not necessary to measure to a T. It’s also ok if the filling is under-seasoned, since dumplings will be dipped in a sauce once cooked.

Basic dumpling recipe:
- 1 package of dumpling skins/wrappers.*

Filling:
- 1 lb ground meat.**
- 1 packed cup of veggies chopped into small (~ half inch) pieces.***
- 2 - 3 tablespoons soy sauce or 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon corn or tapioca starch sprinkled into the filling, to bind it together

See how short the list is? Easy peasy. Some notes:

* Dumpling skins are found at Asian grocery stores either refrigerated or frozen, or you can be ambitious and make your own. I prefer the refrigerated white, round wrappers. Other varieties include yellow “Hong Kong” style which is super thin and more suited for steamed dim sum, or square shapes, which are for wontons.
** You can use ground pork which is traditional, or healthier ground turkey/chicken but it may come out less juicy. In the photo above I was experimenting with a piece of lean pork ground up by the butcher, but it tasted too dry.
*** You can adjust the meat : veggie ratio per your liking. For veggies, traditional dumpling fillings use either napa cabbage or garlic chive, which is my favorite by far. Garlic chives, as shown in the above photo, look like long blades of grass similar to a cross between scallions and leeks. They have wonderful garlic-y flavor starting at the white roots and throughout the blade. I’ve only been able to find these at Asian grocery stores.

Optional ingredients:
- Peeled and de-veined shrimp, cut into quarters (however much shrimp you use, decrease the amount of ground meat by that amount)
- Chopped shitake mushrooms (either fresh or rehydrated dried ones), bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, or scallions (I only use scallions if I don’t already have garlic chive as the veggie)
- Minced ginger or garlic
- Fish sauce
- White pepper

My favorite combo is simply shrimp and pork, with garlic chive, shitake mushrooms, soy sauce, sesame oil and starch. Delish! I've experimented with lots of optional add-ins and didn't find them to be worth the extra effort.

Filling directions: Mix all filling ingredients together in a large bowl. This can be done up to a day ahead of time and stored covered in the fridge.

Wrapping directions: Prepare a small bowl of warm water. This will be your wrapping “glue.”

To avoid running out of either filling or wrappers, I start by splitting my wrapper into quarters and also roughly segmenting the filling into the same. Keep the pile of unused wrappers covered, so they don't dry out.
dumpling folding instructions
1. Put a wrapper in the palm of your hand and 1 spoonful of filling in the center.
2. Dab a finger on your other hand in the warm water, and "draw" the water liberally around the outer circumference of the wrapper.
3. Pinch the top and bottom centers together
4. Pinch together the lower right corner with your thumb and index finger.
5. Keeping your hand and thumb in place, use your index finger to fold down the bubble of skin between the two pinches made in steps 3 and 4.
6. Press firmly.
dumpling folding instructions2
7 - 8. Repeat the same process on the other side
9 - 10. Give your dumpling a few last pinches between your thumb and index finger to make sure it doesn't come apart. Use more water as glue if necessary.
dumpling folding1
Line up dumplings on a lightly floured cookie sheet or piece of foil. I'm quite lucky that Nick eats everything I cook, plus is a fast learner in the kitchen!
dumpling folding2
Freezing directions: Put the entire cookie sheet or pan (lined with foil and lightly floured) of un-cooked dumplings into the freezer. Let freeze on cookie sheet until they’re semi-hard, then transfer into zip-loc bags. This is to prevent them from sticking into 1 big lump.

Cooking directions: You can either boil or pan-fry these as potstickers. Boiling fresh or frozen dumplings is easy and healthy – cook these in a large boiling pot of water until they float to the surface for 5-8 minutes, then strain.

Pan-frying is tastier in my opinion but has a few steps:
1) Coat bottom of a pan with vegetable oil. Heat on medium high until oil is hot.
2) Place dumplings in one by one so that they “sit” nicely upright in the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the bottoms start getting golden brown.
3) Pour water into the hot pan (will result in a loud sizzle!) until water level reaches ~1/4 of the way up the sides of the dumplings. Turn heat down to medium, and cover pan to let the dumplings steam.
4) Once the water is almost evaporated, remove lid to let the dumplings finish cooking and the bottoms finish browning. Cook uncovered until the water is gone and the bottoms become crisp (pick one up to check).
dumpling folding
For dipping sauce, start with a soy sauce base and add the following if you desire: black vinegar, sesame oil, hot sauce, chopped scallions and cilantro. And enjoy!

For those who celebrate - wishing you and your families a happy Lunar New Year! What have/will you be eating?

35 comments:

  1. My absolute favorite! <3 Now I'm craving them lol.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe. I can't wait to try it.

    xo
    Maggie A
    LOVEMAVIN.COM

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  2. Happy New Year Jean! I have never learned to make dumplings from my parents. I think when I head home next time, I need to take some notes. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    Alice
    www.happinessatmidlife.com

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  3. I wish you a Happy New Year! Although this is not a typical Bavarian food, I will try it, as I have the equipment to prepare this :) Thanks for sharing.

    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    www.dressedwithsoul.blogspot.de

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  4. Happy Lunar NY! The quintessential Chinese dish! Love it.

    NEW POST:: RIPPED

    www.eyelikefashion.com
    www.eyelikefahsion.com
    www.eyelikefashion.com

    xoxo

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  5. I absolutely love asian dumplings! I cannot wait to try this recipe out! Thanks for sharing!

    kymariec.blogspot.com

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  6. Thanks for sharing, Jean! I had forgotten how much I liked your travel posts too, so it was fun to rediscover your travels to Canton through that link.

    My fiance and I love cooking, but we've never really tried any Chinese dishes. These seem fun to start with. Thanks for sharing!

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    Replies
    1. Julie - you must be a longtime reader if you've seen the Canton post before! Thank you for stopping by over the years! Congrats on your engagement and I hope the two of you enjoy trying new dishes together - it's one of my favorite "night in" activities with my boyfriend.

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  7. Hi Jean - I've been following you for 2 years now and this is the first time I'm actually leaving a comment :) Thank you for your blog! It's such a breath of fresh air. I enjoy reading it and love your outfit posts as much as I love your food posts and everything in between. I cannot wait to try this recipe out as I am quite the food junkie myself.

    Happy Chinese New Year!

    ~Maikue

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for saying hello, Maikue! I'm happy to hear you've enjoyed the various content on here over the years! Hope you have fun experimenting with this recipe.

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  8. Reading this post and looking at the dumpling photos made my mouth water. We learned a trick from a family friend when pan-frying the dumplings. For step #3, you can add a bit of white vinegar to the water before pouring it into the hot pan. It gives the dumplings a delicious taste.

    Happy Chinese New Year!

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    1. I read this post and had to make dumplings last night. When pan frying, I added some flour and Parmesan cheese (from the green can) to the water. I got super crispy edges!

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    2. Both tips sound very interesting! I'll be trying!

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  9. You really surprise me how versatile you are! not only can we find fashion tips in your blog but also recipes! I love Chinese dumplings and I will definitely try it. Thank you very much for sharing!

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    1. Aw thank you, Kari! Hope you have fun experimenting. It's hard to go wrong with the filling, and they're a family and crowd-pleaser for sure : )

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  10. Happy Chinese New Year! Thank you for the recipe. I'm looking forward to making these.

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  11. Yay, love potstickers! Did you see the DvF year of the horse dress? Love, but sold out in my size, of course. I just realized my daughter was born in the year of the dragon, which is supposed to be a good thing, I think, but I read the description and it seems pretty miserable to me. Oh well, I don't really believe astrology and such anyway!

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    1. I was not aware but just looked it up - how interesting for higher-end retailers to make specific items that appeal to a fast-growing consumer segment! i don't believe in astrology either, but being a dragon sounds pretty neat to me!

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  12. Happy Lunar New Year Jean!!! Thank you for the recipe. I will definitely try it!!!!

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  13. mmmm that looks good! i love love dumpling! Happy CNY and thanks for the recipe!

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  14. Yay! Thanks for the recipe! The filling looks awesome! I really want to try cooking with garlic chive now...sounds amazing! There are quite a few Asian grocery stores to choose from around here, will have to give this a try.

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  15. Amazing Jean! Thanks for the dumpling cooking tips, they look simply mouthwatering ;)

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  16. I love making homemade dumplings - thanks for sharing your recipe! I'll definitely be trying out your dumpling folding technique next time I make them.

    Tip for vegetarians: use extra-firm tofu as a filling (chop into small bits and saute with garlic and ginger before adding to veggies). I've found this makes it a heartier filling, more like pork or shrimp. Plus, I usually despise tofu but love it in this recipe. Further evidence that dumplings can make almost anything delicious!

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    Replies
    1. Yum! Thanks for the vegetarian tip! I absolutely love tofu, but have never tried it in dumplings.

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  17. Yum. I went to a restaurant in Beijing that specializes in dumplings... they had all different kinds of filling like fennel and walnut, and the dumplings came out in little shapes like swans and bunny rabbits.

    I view dumplings as a vehicle for the dipping sauce... my mom makes a delicious one with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar, kochukaru, sesame seeds and chopped green onions.

    FrockandHound

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  18. These look delish :) Happy new year :)

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  19. I actually made home-made dumplings for the first time this past month. I love the freshness of homemade ones! You guys did a great job on the folding! Happy New Year to you too, Jean!

    Suzie Q
    www.StyleCueBySuzieQ.com

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  20. Looks like how I make them too! Yum.

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  21. Looks amazing.

    Hope you had a great weekend.
    Love,
    Sofia

    stylishlyinlove.blogspot.com

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  22. yum! Food is a wonderful way to share traditions. Have you ever noticed that even when 2nd or 3rd generations lose the language skills, it's the food that ties people to their culture?
    I have a request: can you (or your mom) make char siu bao? (pork buns, in case I spelled it wrong). It's my son's absolute favorite food and I hate driving the 45 mins to the closest dim sum restaurant.

    Happy New Year!

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    Replies
    1. Your son has great taste! Do you mean the white steamed ones or golden baked buns? My mom makes mean versions of either, so I'll be sure to glean some tips from her next time I visit. What's your kids' favorite Indian dish, I'm curious?

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    2. I've only tried the white ones. The golden ones are baked, do they taste different? I lived in Japan for a while and fell in love with the ones filled with red bean paste. YUM!
      Does your mom still do the food blog? I'd love to see a cross post with fashion and food.

      As for Indian food, there are the staples that most folks like (Chicken Tikka masala, biriyani). My sons also love dosas, which are like crispy crepes. They are a south Indian staple-- usually not available in most Indian restaurants (since they are always north Indian). I make a mean chicken curry myself.
      I love how your BF is in the mix with the prep. My husband is always the default ambassador for Indian food at restaurants when he's with his coworkers.

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  23. Happy Lunar New Year! My mom is Chinese and we would always make these wontons growing up, I haven't made them in a while but I definitely need to sometime soon, looking at these makes me want to!

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  24. Love homemade dumplings! I recently made Chinese style jerky (http://taketimeaway.com/chinese-pork-jerky/) Will have to try homemade dumplings next time!

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