Whenever I get Chinese food, I always go for the fried dumplings. But I’ve always been afraid to try to make them. It turns out that it’s ridiculously easy. I would like to tell you that I was confident enough to make the Sheng jian bao style, below.
But I didn’t. I thought I should start with beginner dumplings, or jiaozi - potstickers.
Rumor has it that a Chinese chef intended to boil jiaozi in a wok, but walked away and returned to find all of the water boiled off. The dumpling stuck to the pan and got crispy, which is how this dumpling got its name, which literally means “stuck to the wok.”
These are so simple and so good. Grab a friend and have a drink and make potstickers.
9 oz skinless pork belly, chopped into chunks*
1.7 oz shiitake mushrooms
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1/2 tbsp ginger, minced
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp rice wine
1/2 tsp pure sesame oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
2.4 chicken stock
1 tbsp cooking oil
8.4 oz water
Spring onion, finely chopped
1 pack of dumpling wrappers**
*If your belly still has the skin on it, cut it in chucks and remove the skin from the cut pieces (see two left pictures below). It sounds more efficient to cut the skin off the large piece, but it doesn’t go in a straight line.
**Dumpling wrappers are easy to make (or so I read), but believe it or not, pre-made wrappers are pretty traditional. Perhaps another time.
Add all of the filling ingredients, except the chicken stock, to a food processor.
Pulse a few times until it’s roughly chopped and starting to bind together, but not a smooth paste.
Add the chicken stock a tablespoon at a time, pulsing briefly each time to incorporate it into the mixture.
Put one tablespoon of filling in the middle, then shape in half moons - crimping with your right thumb and forefinger, and using your left hand to turn the dumpling as you go.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large flat-bottomed frying pan.
Add the dumplings Once the dumplings start to brown underneath, turn them over, pour in the water and cover with a lid that will let some air out.
Wait for the water to evaporate and the steam to stop - this should take 8-10 minutes.
Remove the lid and serve the dumplings immediately, with spring onion.
These are good just dipped in soy sauce, but I mixed:
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
4 tablespoons black vinegar (try it!!)
a couple pinches of wasabe powder
It has a lot more flavor that just soy, and a bit of a kick.
Careful pairing wine with this, especially if you’re dipping in vinegar. Got any champagne lying around? Perfect.
Note on leftovers: Once these go in Tupperware, they steam and the crispness is gone. Let them cool completely beforehand.