Here’s a super-simple recipe that opens the door to a multitude of Asian treats. Making your own Dumpling Wrappers let’s you be the master of your own Dim Sum and build a reputation as a culinary wizard. What’s even better, they let you hide leftovers creatively and they’re almost free!
The whole family gets into the act making dumplings for the Chinese New Year feast.
You should enlist at least one buddy for your Dumpling bee…
I’ll bet you couldn’t guess how many ingredients it takes to make your own Chinese Dumpling Wrappers. Never in a million years. What’s your guess? Four? Five? Seven” Eleven? Hah! The answer is… Two!
That’s right. Maybe the easiest recipe in the world after pouring a Glass of Water, Dumpling Wrappers will open up a whole new world of Asian delights! But there are some matters of technique that you must be aware of before you dive into the Sim Sum Sea.
What you need…
2 cups / 500 ml All-Purpose or Cake and Pastry Flour
3/4 cup /175 ml Water, just boiled and allowed to cool for 2-3 minutes
Here’s what you do…
In a large mixing bowl, add flour and make a well in the centre. Into the well, pour the boiled Water. Stir with a wooden spoon handle or a pair of chopsticks to ensure that the Flour is evenly moistened. If the dough does not come together, add more Water a teaspoonful or two at a time until it does. Knead a little in the bowl until all the bits and pieces come together.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly-Floured board or clean counter top and knead for 2-3 minutes, or until the the surface of the ball becomes smooth. Wrap the ball tightly in plastic and set aside on the counter top for at least 20 minutes. A couple of hours is better. You can even make it the day before and let it rest overnight in the Fridge. Just let it come to room temperature again before making your Dumplings. It’s a little like real-deal Pizza Dough; the longer you rest it, the pros say, the better it is!
Making the Wrappers…
I usually divide the Dough ball into several equal pieces and roll out each piece into a long ropes about 1 in. / 2.5 cm thick. Then I cut the rope into pieces about 1 in. / 2.5 cm long. You can then use your hands to form a thin disc of Dough. Pros use the heel of the thumb, moving in a slight arc, pressing the little ball of Dough outward from the centre toward the wrapper’s edges. You should end up with about a 3 in. / 7 cm disc.
Set up an assembly line…
Have a second person you assist in making the Dumplings. You can press out the Wrappers and pass them on to your buddy, who will place a teaspoon or so of filling in the centre of each and then fold up the dumplings pinching them closed with their fingers. Buddy can place them on sheet trays or cookie sheets lined with parchment paper to await either cooking or freezing. Just remember, he way you set the Dumplings on the trays will determine what their ‘bottom’ side is in future. Do you prefer them with the pinch seams standing up or reclining on their sides?
You can use almost any firm, moist filling in your Dumplings. Fillings can be all-Veg or all Meat, but they’re traditionally a blend of the two. Meats should be pre-cooked. That’s where Dumplings come in handy to use up and camoflage leftovers! Use a food processor to shred your Meats. Veggies like Bok Choy and Cabbage should also be shredded. Seafood fillings are an exception – if you like a whole Baby Shrimp or Bay Scallop in your Dumpling! These Seafood specialties can be included in your Dumplings raw; they’ll cook fully during boiling or steaming. Just remember, the overall rule is: it’s easier to work with a thick, pasty filling mix. Think Crab Cake or Salmon Cake Dough. You might want to add a little Flour, moistened Potato Starch, pre-cooked Rice or Egg as a binder. Your fillings will firm up when you steam or boil the Dumplings.
So… Get out there and experiment!
You’ll soon be crafting your own custom Dumpling Fillings and filling your Freezer with delicious little nuggets of joy! Once a month or so, I love to make a big ball of Dough on Friday, spend the next morning making fillings, and then spend the afternoon watching movies, assembling dozens of Dumplings. Most will be frozen, but a select few (totalling a couple of dozen) will be kept aside to steam for supper.
Check out my New Year’s Eve Treats post for a list of my fave Dumpling Dipping sauces, and cruise your neighbourhood Asian Grocery for a whole lot more!
Celebrate the Chinese New Years!
Dumplings are traditional fare to celebrate the Chinese (Lunar) New Year. It is said that those who consume dumplings on Chinese New Year are assured of good health and good fortune through the coming year. More on that closer to the date, January 28
Meanwhile… Start making those Dumplings!
~ Maggie J.