Happy Chinese New Year to you all! I wanted a really authentic post so asked my friend Sylvia Chen who is originally from Taipei in Taiwan. She lived and worked in Singapore before moving to Sheffield 9 years ago. She currently works as a freelance translator. She claims to not be very good at cooking (which I would beg to differ after tasting her food!) She says that if she can make these dumplings then anyone can. So over to Sylvia …
Traditionally, Chinese people have a big feast on the eve of Chinese New Year. We will leave an empty chair for members who cant make it home for this meal. A popular dish is home-made dumplings. A lot of people make their own dumpling wrapper as the action for making the dough in Chinese sounds exactly the same as the word “together”. Also, it is a tradition to hide a coin inside some dumplings. Whoever eats the dumplings containing a coin inside will have the most prosperous new year. (* you obviously need to clean/sterilize the coin, and exercise care while eating to avoid the choking hazard!)
The filling for the dumplings can be anything- you can use minced pork, mutton, beef, chicken, fish, or prawn and match with chopped/shredded (Chinese) cabbage, carrots, fennel, celery, chives, mushroom, and spinach. Some said they are quite similar to ravioli. There are many versatile ways enjoy your dumplings, you can steam them, fry them, boil them, or have it with soup. And it is super easy to make as part or all of it can be prepared in advance, and it freezes very well (as commonly seen in the Chinese supermarkets), not to mention that it is a great way to get children to eat vegetables.
Today, I am making dumplings with minced pork and cabbage using shop-bought wrappers.
For the dumplings, you will need the following, which will give you roughly 40 dumplings. Feel free to adjust the seasoning to taste, just have to make sure that it is not too watery.
- minced pork 250g
- cabbage 350g
- 1 egg
- salt 1/2 TSP
- white pepper 1/4 TSP
- sesame oil 1/2 TSP
- soy sauce 1TSP
- Japanese Mirin 1/2 TSP (optional, rice wine with a lower alcohol content and higher sugar content)
- rice wine 1/2 TSP (optional)
- oyster sauce 3/4 TSP
- minced ginger 1TSP
- minced garlic 1TSP
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- dumpling wrappers – available in Chinese supermarkets such as here
(1) minced pork
If you are getting the butcher to mince the pork for you, it is advisable to ask the butcher to mince it twice for a smoother texture. It is also better, texture-/flavour-wise, to contain some fat in there, which will be the case if you are using supermarket-bought pork mince.
(2) shredded cabbage
- Cook the whole cabbage in boiling water for 1 min with lid on
- Soak it in icy water to keep the crispiness
- Cut them in to thin pieces
- Wrap the cold cabbage pieces in a muslin square (yes, the ones left from baby time), twist and squeeze the water out
- Keep the cabbage and the mince separated until making the dumpling. This way, it will not make the filling too wet, so as to avoid breaking the wrapper.
- Defrost the wrapper in room temperature.
- Find a tray that is clean and dry.
- Get a bowl of cold water.
- Mix the mince and veg together right before making.
- Make sure your hands are clean and dry.
- Get a piece of wrapper, gently stretch it from the middle outwards without breaking it.
- Put a small amount of the filling mixture in the centre of the wrapper.
- Use your finger, dip it in the bowl of water, and run your finger along half of the edge of the wrapper.
- Fold the wrapper in half, be careful not to break it, press and make sure that it is stuck together properly and that the filling is sealed inside. Repeat step 6-9.
Some people will make fancy folds, like these:
- Bring a pot of water to boil, maintain high heat. (if the water is not hot enough, the dumplings will stick together)
- Put the dumplings in.
- Wait until the water boils again, stir gently from time to time, add a cup of cold water, and let the water boil again.
- When the dumplings are floating to the top, they are ready. If you are cooking dumplings from frozen, it is better to repeat step 3 again.
There is no particular measure, mainly add the ingredients and sauces to taste. I am using:
- 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 piece of sliced ginger, thinly sliced
- 1 spring onion, finely chopped
- soy sauce.
- sesame oil
- prickly oil
Now enjoy your home-made dumplings!
We wish you a wonderful, happy, healthy, successful, and prosperous Year of the Rooster!