Homemade Dumplings – So Much Better Than Store Bought.
When it comes to dumplings, I’m a fan of most all I’ve ever tasted. Some are better than others, but when it comes to putting together a quick meal, nothing is faster than having a pre-made bag of frozen dumplings on hand. As handy as those are, homemade dumplings do taste a whole lot better.
Making the filling is easy. I like Kenji Lopez-Alt’s combination of pork shoulder and a little bacon, but added my own additional ingredients and seasonings. I used some reconstituted dried black mushrooms, along with a full tablespoon of black garlic, some orange zest, fresh ginger and ground white peppercorns.
The chunks of pork shoulder are fully salted and put into the freezer for 15 minutes before being mixed in the food processor with the pieces of bacon which are fully frozen. This prevents the meat from over processing and turning to mush. An egg, Shoaxing wine, soy sauce, and a little bit of sugar are also added to the mix, along with the additional ingredients I previously mentioned. This is all quickly pulsed in the food processor and then it’s simply a matter of filling the dumpling wrappers. I did test a small spoonful of the filling for seasoning by placing it in a glass dish and microwaving it.
I didn’t make my own wrappers. I bought a couple packages of frozen Shanghai style dumpling wrappers, let them sit out for about an hour and I was good to go. It helps to be organized when you fill the wrappers. On my kitchen table, I set out a cutting board, a little bowl of water for moistening the edges of the wrappers, a 1 tablespoon measuring spoon so that I’m not tempted to over fill the dumplings, the dumplings, which I keep covered with plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out, and a couple of paper towels to wipe my fingers in order to keep them dry and clean. My son and I did this together, so I had a full setup for each of us.
As we filled and sealed each dumpling, we placed them on a parchment lined sheet pan. I popped it into the refrigerator until dinner time, while freezing the rest for future meals. This makes about 60 dumplings, so there are plenty. You can boil, steam, or pan fry the dumplings either freshly made or straight from the freezer. I prefer to either steam or pan fry them because the wrappers I used are thin, which are the kind I prefer, but they’re a little more delicate and I don’t want to risk them breaking open if they’re jostling all around in a pot of boiling water.
This time around I pan fried them and served them with a simple dipping sauce of soy sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, and chili oil. I also love Thai inspired dipping sauces made with lime juice, fish sauce and scallions. There are many different dipping sauces you could use. I kept it simple because the dumplings themselves are fully flavored and I wanted to be sure the sauce didn’t overpower them. Both the texture and flavor are so much better than the ones you buy, they’re fun to make, and what a sense of satisfaction it is to look at all those pretty dumplings lined up in rows. I simply love making stuff like this.