Steamed pork dumplings 鮮肉大蒸餃

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Chinese cuisine would be incomplete without dumplings or jiaozi (餃子). If I had to think of only two words that would encompass the most Chinese dishes, I would have to say rice and dumplings. In the past, when someone who has never tried Chinese food asked for a pointer on what to eat, I usually recommend Chinese dumplings. They are a safe choice (that is, not overly exotic), there are so many varieties and ways to prepare them, and they are pleasant to receive at the dinner table.

Jiaozi are also one of the major foods eaten during Chinese New Year because they are shaped like the golden ingots that were used in Chinese history for money, so serving them is believed to bring prosperity. Families traditionally have dumplings for dinner on New Year’s Eve. This year 2012 will be the year of the Dragon on the lunar calendar, starting on January 23rd on the Gregorian (Western) calendar. So that means New Year’s Eve lands on a Sunday this year, which gives me plenty of time to prepare a feast for family and close friends at home since I don’t have to go to work on Sundays.

My favorite type of dumpling is the ones with juicy meat fillings wrapped in a thinner semi-translucent skin. For my first Chinese New Year dumplings recipe this year, I decided to make Cantonese style pork dumplings or gaau (the Cantonese pronunciation for 餃), which are standard dishes in dim sum. I wanted to make dough that would give me a semi-translucent finish after steaming and a filling with a familiar taste resembling the popular pot sticker (鍋貼).

The key to this tasty filling is my choice to use fresh juice from grated shallots and ginger. Then to top it off, I incorporated the saltiness from the shrimp roe, the savory nutty taste of Asian sesame oil, and a crunchy texture from the bamboo shoots. It is important that you use Chinese wheat flour, which is Tang flour (澄麵). Using Western style whole wheat flour will give different results ending in a tougher, denser skin that is too chewy.

The best thing about a making a Chinese dumplings recipe is that jiaozi can be eaten all year round during any meal of the day, and they can constitute one meal course, a starter, a side dish, or even the main course. My recipe yielded 33 dumplings from scratch. After wrapping the dumplings, they are best steamed and eaten right away when fresh. But if that’s too many pork dumplings, it is best to place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze them right away after wrapping them. Once they have frozen, you can put them in a plastic bag with an airtight seal. I have to warn you, dumplings are hard work to make from scratch (especially working with the dough), and so I have a newfound appreciation for all the ladies I saw on my recent trip to Beijing who labor all day behind thick glass panes at the backs of Asian restaurants just making Chinese dumplings that sell for no more than 10 RMB a plate.

I have to admit, I was quite surprised at how well my dumplings from scratch turned out!  The filling was juicy and tasteful with a homemade goodness, and a skin was soft and thin. And these are desirable features of good Chinese dumplings.

chinese dumplings

Grocery list

60 g winter bamboo shoots, which look like this for reference:
winter bamboo shoots
200 g fatty ground pork
400 g lean pork, minced
2 tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine (紹興酒)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp juice from shallots
2 1/2 tsp juice from fresh ginger
1 tsp shrimp roe
2 tbsp Asian sesame oil

600 g or about 4 1/2 cups Tang (wheat) flour (澄麵)
3 cups hot water
1 cup cold water


冬筍 60 克
碎豬肉 200 克
瘦肉 (剁碎) 400 克
紹興酒 2 湯匙
生抽 3 湯匙
鹽 1 茶匙
薤汁 2 1/2 茶匙
薑汁 2 1/2 茶匙
蝦子 1 茶匙
麻油 2 湯匙

澄麵 600 克
熱水 3 杯
冷水 1 杯

Wash the winter bamboo shoots and remove the outer husks.

winter bamboo shoots

Blanch in boiling water until just cooked (about 4 minutes).  Drain and dice finely.

Steamed pork dumplings  Steamed pork dumplings

In a large mixing bowl, combine the fatty and lean pork.  Add the cooking wine, soy sauce, salt, and juice from the shallots and ginger.  Mix well with a wooden spoon.

Steamed pork dumplings

Add the diced bamboo shoots, the shrimp roe, and sesame oil, and mix everything well to make the filling.

Steamed pork dumplings  Steamed pork dumplings

In a clean bowl, add the Tang flour.  Add the hot water, mixing gently just until combined.  Let cool to room temperature, add the cold water, and knead into a dough.

jiaozi  Steamed pork dumplings

If the dough is too sticky while kneading, add more Tang flour 1/8 cup at a time.  Separate the dough into portions weighing about 40 g each, or a ball of about 1 inch in diameter.  With a small rolling pin, flatten and roll them into circles as thin as possible.

chinese dumplings

With the dough circle lying flat on the palm of your hand, place 1 1/2 tsp of the filling in the middle.

dumplings from scratch

Fold the dough over pressing to seal, and shape it into a moon-like shape.

jiaozi from scratch  Steamed pork dumplings  chinese dumplings recipe  jiaozi

Steam on high heat in a bamboo steamer lined with lotus leaf (or parchment paper) for about 10 minutes and serve immediately.

jiaozi  chinese dumplings

Graceful Cuisine tips:  If you desire, you can also pan fry the dumplings after steaming.  Heat 1 tsp vegetable oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Transfer the dumplings from the bamboo steamer to the hot skillet.  Fry, undisturbed, for 2-3 minutes on one side until skin is golden brown and crispy.  Flip to the other side and repeat.  This extra step transforms these dumplings into delicious pot stickers, with the familiar crispy skin while the flavor of the filling stays sealed inside.  Careful taking your first bite!  They are steaming hot and you don’t want to accidentally discard the flavorful juices from the filling!

pan fried dumplings  pan fried chinese dumplings


Related posts:

  1. Chinese BBQ pork (char siu) 蜜汁叉燒
  2. Braised pork trotters (滷豬手)
  3. Dan Dan Noodles 担担面
7 Responses to Steamed pork dumplings 鮮肉大蒸餃
  1. Chinese radish turnip cake recipe
    January 21, 2012 | 12:10 pm

    […] reunion rice.  There is always an abundance of food that must include traditional dishes such as dumplings and nian gao new year […]

  2. Dana_cook
    February 3, 2012 | 4:42 pm

    This looks fantastic, I want to give it a try but i have a couple of questions:
    Can I substitute the Shaoxing for any other type of cooking wine? and for how long do you recommend to keep the dumplings frozen? Some food can taste very different if its frozen even for a day…Thanks!

    • Dr. Grace
      February 4, 2012 | 12:27 am

      Glad you found something on my site that caught your eye! Shaoxing wine is a dry, semi-sweet, high grade aged red cooking wine made from red yeast rice. Although I’ve never tried using another type of cooking wine, I would guess that substituting it for another such wine would theoretically be possible. It’s just that Shaoxing wine is the cooking wine of choice for a lot of Chinese cuisines due to its unique “Asian” taste and reddish color. As for freezing the dumplings, they can keep for quite a long time in sealed plastic bags; for up to one month and still taste reasonably fresh! I hope this helps! Good luck!

  3. Juliette
    February 6, 2012 | 6:28 pm

    I loved cooking this and I served them to my friends and they were delighted! Thanks for this, such a great and easy recipe.

    • Dr. Grace
      February 6, 2012 | 9:08 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  4. Howard Chung
    February 17, 2013 | 6:22 am

    My parents use to make dumplings when my dad still around, at that time I’m still young and don’t really care but now that I have a family , I want to do it for them. Can I cook the dumplings through boiling water ?

    • Dr. Grace
      May 3, 2013 | 12:12 pm

      Great idea to make dumplings for your family. :) Yes, I also cook the dumplings through boiling water, and then I either serve them boiled or grill them.

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