How to Make Chinese Dumplings

by Emily

in Chinese Dumpling Cooking Tips

Chinese dumplings are a popular dish in China, especially over holidays like the Chinese New Year, where it is traditional for entire Chinese Dumplingsfamilies to come together to make Chinese dumplings for dinner. More and more people all over the world have also come to like and enjoy this healthy and tasty dish in all its various forms, whether boiled, steamed or fried. In this article, I will describe the general procedure used for making Chinese dumplings, and at the same time provide an overview of the content that is available on this site. This article is divided into the following sections:

Different types of Chinese dumplings and their fillings
Chinese dumpling wrappers
Different ways of cooking Chinese dumplings
Dipping sauces for Chinese dumplings

If you are looking for detailed recipes for making Chinese dumplings, you can find a listing of all the recipes on the Chinese Dumplings Recipes page.

For beginners who are looking for step by step instructions, you may want to read the article: how to make dumplings from scratch, in which I provide step by step instructions on how to make pork-nappa cabbage dumplings, a classic recipe.

How to make Chinese Dumplings

Different types of Chinese dumplings and their fillings

At its heart, the art of making Chinese dumplings is about the pairing of flavors, from the traditional pork and chives dumplings to the exotic duck and crab dumplings. Although Chinese dumplings can be made from a wide variety of ingredients, it is best to try out the conventional recipes first before striking out on your own with novel combinations. There are three general types of Chinese dumplings, each with their traditional ingredients and preparation methods.

Chinese Dumpling Jiao ZiThe first type of Chinese dumplings is the Jiaozi, also referred to as the Gyoza by the Japanese. These are thick skinned dumplings with a filling usually consisting of a meat paired with a vegetable, typically in a one-to-one ratio. This is not a hard rule, since one can also find vegetarian Jiaozi, or Jiaozi made mainly of meat, but a meat/vegetable pair is the most common filling. Jiaozi is typically boiled, although they can also be deep fried, or boiled and then pan-fried, in which case they are known as potstickers. These dumplings are considered a complete meal unto themselves, and Chinese housewives commonly serve just a plate of Jiaozi along with a dipping sauce for a meal. And they are indeed a complete meal, because they contain protein (meat), fiber (vegetable), and carbohydrate (thick wrappers). On this site, we provide such traditional Jiaozi recipes as the pork and cabbage dumping and the chicken and cilantro dumpling, which are excellent starter recipes.

The second type of Chinese dumplings is the soup dumpling, or Wonton. Unlike Jiaozi, which although boiled is not served in liquid, wonton is usually served in soup. Wonton fillings are meat heavy, contain little to no vegetables, and are usually more heavily seasoned and saltier than Jiaozi. Also, wonton is wrapped in a thinner egg-based wrapper compared to Jiaozi. Wonton can also be fried instead of cooked in soup. Wontons are served as a dish meant to accompany a meal with noodles or rice. This is why Wonton is meat heavy and salty, which helps it stand out from the blander noodles and rice. On this site, we have the traditional pork-based Wonton recipe for your reference. By the way, one type of steamed dumplings is also referred as “soup dumplings”, because their fillings are juicy.

The third type of Chinese dumplings is the steamed dumpling, exemplified by the shrimp dumpling found at many dim sum restaurants. These are steamed dumplings with a translucent wrapper, meant to be served with other steamed dishes as part of a dim sum meal. The ingredients are typically “lighter” and less strongly flavored. For example, shrimp and water chestnuts feature prominently in many dim sum dumplings. Dim sum dumplings are consumed by themselves without rice or noodles, and are therefore more delicate in flavor. They are also typically consumed with other vegetable dishes, so vegetables are not considered a mandatory ingredient.

Regardless of which type of Chinese dumplings you want to prepare, the ingredients for all dumpling filling are always finely minced or chopped, and then combined in a bowl with seasonings and some vegetable oil and allowed to rest for 15 to 30 minutes. During this time, the oil extracts the flavors from the ingredients and blends them. In the meantime, the wrappers can be prepared. The ingredients can also be prepared one to two days ahead of time, and then stored in the fridge until they are used.

Chinese dumpling wrappers

Every Chinese dumpling recipe requires wrappers. Although store-bought wrappers are available and do save time, I find that many brands of wrappers are primarily optimized for shelf life rather than taste or reliability. If you have been discouraged from making Chinese dumplings because you found it difficult to wrap the filling, or because the wrappers came apart in the cooking process, then the problem may lie with the store-bought wrappers. I find home-made wrappers to be much better for making Chinese dumplings, because you can make them to the required size, and they hold together much better during cooking. On this site, we offer recipes for Jiaozi wrappers, Wonton wrappers, as well as dim sum dumpling wrappers. Briefly, Jiaozi wrappers are traditionally thicker, flour-based and round, while Wonton wrappers are thinner, egg-based, and square. Dim sum dumpling wrappers are made from wheat flour, which gives it a translucent color as well as a more delicate taste.

Many people think that folding and wrapping a Chinese dumpling is the most difficult step. Here, I will show you how to wrap Chinese dumplings. Basically, there are two choices: you can wrap the dumpling by hand, or you can use a commercial mold. The advantage of the mold is that it is easy to use; the disadvantage is that you can only make dumplings of one shape and size. While wrapping Chinese dumplings by hand takes a little getting used do, once you have mastered the basic technique, you will be able to wrap dumplings of all shapes and sizes, and you can probably do so faster than with commercial mold. In this article, I will focus mainly on teaching you how to fold Chinese dumplings by hand.

The first step in folding a Chinese dumpling is to add the filling to the wrapper. Add an appropriate amount that covers about 30% of the wrapper area. Adding too much makes it difficult to close the wrapper properly, which may cause it to break apart during cooking, especially if it will be boiled. Adding too little fillings makes it easier to wrap, but the dumpling may not taste as good because it has too much dough per dumpling. However, when first starting out, it is best to err on the side to too little filling, since trying to squeeze too much filling into a wrapper is a common cause of failure when cooking dumplings.

Different Chinese dumpling shapesThere are several ways to fold a dumpling, and you can make Chinese dumplings in various shapes. The most traditional way is to fold the dumpling in the shape of a crescent moon. The trick is to keep one side of the wrapper straight, while folding the other side. For your convenience, you can refer to this video which demonstrates how to wrap a dumpling. First, you bring the upper and lower edges of the wrapper over the filling and pinch them together in the middle over the filling. If the wrapper edges are not sticky enough and do not stick together when pinched, dip your finger in water and dab some water around the edges of the wrapper and the edges should then stick together. After the middle of the wrapper have been pinched together, pinch the edges to the left and right of the middle together as well. This will produce a nearly sealed dumpling with extra wrapper creases to the left and right of the middle. Finally, you pinch all along the edges of the wrapper with your thumb and forefinger, folding the extra creases into the dumpling and generating a crescent-shaped dumpling. Try not to seal too much air into the dumpling, because air will expand when heated during cooking, and may cause your dumplings to burst.

After you have finishing making the dumpling, place it on a plate that has been coated with flour. This will ensure that the dumpling does not stick to the plate later. Because the filling within the dumpling contains some moisture, the wrapper will slowly absorb this moisture and become stickier with time. You should also avoid letting the dumplings touch each other, because again, they will tend to stick together. Once your dumplings are stuck either to the plate or to other dumplings, it may be difficult to separate them for cooking without breaking the dumplings. If you wish to store your dumplings, simply cover the dumplings with cling-wrap and store it in the fridge. They can be stored for several days before cooking.

Different ways of cooking Chinese dumplings

The final step in making Chinese dumplings is to cook them. Here, I will discuss in brief the different methods of cooking dumplings. The detailed cooking method will be provided separately in the individual Chinese dumpling recipes. Jiaozi dumplings are usually boiled, and then strained and served dry, typically with a dipping sauce. Leftover dumplings can be pan-fried and served as potstickers. Wonton dumplings are boiled in water and then strained and served in a soup. Wonton can also be deep fried and serve as a side dish. Dim sum dumplings are steamed and then served, sometimes with a dipping sauce as well.

Dipping sauces for Chinese dumplings

After all that work, the most enjoyable part of making Chinese dumplings is eating them, usually after dipping them in a dipping sauce. Jiaozi dumplings are always served with a dipping sauce, usually based on black rice vinegar and various spicy oils or sesame oil. Wonton is served in soup, and a soy sauce/chilli based dipping sauce is usually provided. Shrimp dim sum dumplings may be served with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce, although they are typically eaten without a sauce.

At this site, I will teach you how to make Chinese dumplings, providing step by step instructions, as well as many traditional recipes to start you on your way. Remember to check our new dumpling recipes. Thank you for your visiting.

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