My mom made this for us growing up. We could eat dozens at a time so she always made a giant bowl of filling and my sisters and I would race to see who could wrap the most dumplings in an hour. Of course, they disappeared as soon as they were done.
It is still one of my comfort foods and has become one for my children too. When they were picky toddlers, I added vegetables to the dumplings. Dumplings are infinitely versatile and the filling is only limited by your imagination. The secret to great ones is making sure to get rid of excess moisture in your filling material and to seal it well before cooking.
Always cook a little of the filling and taste it before wrapping all your dumplings. This way you can add more salt or pepper before wrapping them. I do a quick seasoning taste test with a spoonful of filling in the microwave or you can fry it up in a small pan to taste.
2/3lbs.ground pork (preferably the fattier kind with more white specks in the meat)
1/2lb.peeled shrimp, either roughly chopped or I smash mine with a meat mallet
4shiitake mushrooms finely diced
1/4cupfinely diced water chestnuts (fresh is better but canned chestnut is fine too)
3Tbsps.finely chopped scallions- white parts only
1Tbsp.finely diced shallots
1/4tsp.black pepper or to taste
1Tbsp.regular or light soy sauce
1Tbsp.Shaoxing rice cooking wine or dry sherry (optional)
1large egg white lightly beaten
To make the filling
In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, sugar, cornstarch, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix until cornstarch is well incorporated and not lumpy.
In a larger bowl, combine the pork, shrimp, mushrooms, water chestnuts, scallions, shallots and the beaten egg whites. Add the cornstarch mixture to the bowl and with your hands, mix all the ingredients together until it is well combined.
Assembling the dumplings
Small bowl of water for sealing the dumplings. You can either steam, boil or fry the dumplings. Boiling is the easiest and fastest especially when you are feeding a crowd. My mother tended to boil hers to feed my five sisters and I. It’s like boiling raviolis or pasta, set a pot with water to boil while you start wrapping the dumplings.
To wrap the dumpling, hold the dumpling skin in one hand. Scoop about a teaspoonful of filling and position it in the middle of the wrapper. Dip your finger into the bowl of water and run your wet finger around the edge of half of the dumpling wrapper to wet it. It doesn’t need to be sopping wet, just dampen.
Fold the dumpling skin over the filling in half and starting around the edge of the filling, press the skin together making sure to eliminate any air bubbles but the most important thing is to make sure the dumpling is well sealed all around. Set assembled dumplings on a parchment paper baking sheet until ready to cook.
Boiling the dumplings
Make sure you have plenty of room in your pot and your water is at a rolling boil. You may have to cook your dumplings in batches. Drop your dumplings into the boiling water one by one carefully to avoid splashing. Dumplings will sink to the bottom. Quickly give the dumplings a gentle stir so they don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
Occasionally stir the water to separate the dumplings and to keep them from sticking to each other and the pot. The dumplings will start to float up. Once they are floating, continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes. The dumpling skin will become more translucent. Fish one dumpling out and cut it open to see if filling is cooked through.
Depending on how much filling you put in, it may take longer to cook. If the dumpling is cooked through, with a slotted spoon or skimmer, fish the dumplings out allowing the excess water to drain back into the pot. Put finished dumplings on a plate, drizzled with a little sesame oil to prevent sticking. Finish cooking the rest of the dumplings, serve immediately. I like to dip my dumplings in soy sauce mix with a little red wine vinegar, sriracha and sesame oil. Enjoy!
Nasoya wrapper brand is OK and can be found at Hannaford or Walmart. It’s my least favorite as it is thick and the taste and texture is not the best. If I have to use it, I will roll it out a little thinner before using it. I prefer the Marquis or Dynasty brands. You can get those in Portland at Veranda Asian Market. Dumpling wrappers can be frozen and thawed before use. You can also make your own wrappers which are definitely better tasting.