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How to make Chinese Dumplings

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Chinese Dumplings are remarkably easy and quick to make. Fill them with anything from pork and ginger to duck and orange. Also called Potstickers, we make them all the time especially when we have a little meat left over from another dish.

Chinese Dumplings or potstickers demonstrate the economies of Chinese cuisine to perfection. Just a little meat, some flavourings, a wrapper made of flour and water and you have made a meal that will go far and cost little. A Chinese friend who showed us how to make these freezes the raw dumplings in a plastic bag and steams them for breakfast. She makes hers with pork and ginger and celery and changes the recipe to suit what she has in her cupboard. We’ve created a few recipes with pork and duck and show the method below.

1. The Chinese Dumpling Dough

Makes enough dough for 12 large dumplings

Ingredients

150g of plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (this helps to raise the dumplings and lighten them)
Warm water from the kettle

Method:
Put the flour in a bowl, add the baking powder and mix. Add a little warm water, stirring with a spoon. Add more water a little at a time until the dough comes together into a ball. Put your fingers into the dough and bring it together, trying to get away with using as little water as you can. Take the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for a few minutes until it is pliable and smooth. Put it in a plastic bag or wrap loosely in tinfoil and leave to rest for 15-20 minutes (you can use it after 5 minutes if you need to).

When you have your filling made, break off a small piece of dough, about an inch in diameter. Roll it out into a circular shape on a lightly floured board – making it as thin as possible but not allowing the pastry to split. Take the circle of dough in one hand, and with the other press about a teaspoon of filling into the middle and fold one half of the dough over the other, crimping the edges to seal it (you don’t need water, if it doesn’t stick, press a little harder). You will end up with a closed half moon with the stuffing safely sealed inside.

2. The fillings

Duck and Preserved Ginger with Orange

Makes 4 large dumplings (doubles or triples easily)

60g of minced duck breast
1/2 teaspoon of sherry
5 thin slices of preserved ginger or a teaspoon of fresh finely chopped ginger
1 thin strip of orange peel, chopped finely
A little twist of black pepper
1 tsp soy sauce

1. Mix everything together and use to fill the dumplings.

 

Pork with Ginger and Rice Wine Chinese Dumplings

60g of minced pork
1 tsp of Chinese rice wine (or sake)
1 tsp of finely chopped ginger
1 spring onion, green part only finely chopped
A little twist of black pepper
1 tsp soy sauce

1. Mix everything together and use to fill the dumplings.

Duck with Thyme, Red Onion and Sherry Chinese Dumplings

60g of minced duck
2 tablespoons of finely chopped red onion
1 tsp sherry
Thyme leaves from 1/2 stalk of fresh thyme
A little twist of black pepper
A grinding or two of salt

1. Mix everything together and use to fill the dumplings.

To cook the Chinese Dumplings or Potstickers
First you fry the dumplings on one side, that gives them a solid base for when you add water to steam them so they don’t fall apart. So clever.

1. Fry the dumplings on ONE SIDE ONLY in a frying pan or wok in a little oil. When the underside is golden, add a cup of water (250ml) to the pan with the dumplings. Put the lid on and cook over gentle heat for 15 minutes. Top up with boiling water if you find the pan getting dry. Lift the dumplings out onto a serving plate and serve with a bowl of soy sauce or chilli sauce (or a mixture of both).

Freezing
If you want to freeze your dumplings, first allow the stuffing to cool. Stuff the Chinese dumplings and fold them closed, then pop them into a freezer bag, leaving some room for them to sit comfortably. Freeze them and use within a month.

You can make up any stuffing you like: stuff the dumplings with adzuki bean paste; chicken with black bean sauce or finely chopped chicken with ginger and spring onion (serve these with hoi sin sauce).

Dumplings are amazing when they are cooked in chicken soup or broth.

How to make Chicken Soup with Chinese Dumplings
Take a large saucepan, add a whole chicken, a celery stick, a carrot which you have cut in half and an onion cut in half (leave it in its skin, it will add colour to the stock). Add a bay leaf and a good sprinkling of salt and a grinding of black pepper. Boil the chicken, then turn the heat down so that the stock is bubbling. Leave the chicken to cook with the lid on for 20 minutes per 450g plus an extra 20 minutes or until the flesh is falling off the leg bones. Add more water throughout the cooking if you need to. When the chicken is cooked, remove it and strain the stock. Check the seasoning and add more salt and black pepper if it needs it. When you are ready to use the stock, ladle the quantity of stock that you need into a clean saucepan. Add the dumplings (fry them as in the method above first) and follow the instructions to cook them. Serve immediately.

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