Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

Here's why I like online food delivery ordering: I don't need to actually voice my orders to a live person. This usually isn't a big deal, but it comes up when ordering Chinese, because there's always a part of me that only wants to order dumplings and egg rolls. This impulse is satisfied when you go for dim sum, where so much is in that form, but it's still a bit much to do over the phone. So sometimes I can get what I want shamelessly by ordering online. But more often, now, I get my fix of dumplings just by making them. My dough-working skills are always a little iffy, so, they tend to be on the homely side. But they are just what I want in dumplings otherwise.

They're longer on technique than ingredients: the dough is just flour, water, and salt; the filling this time is pork, cabbage, and egg, and sweet soy sauce, plus salt, pepper, and sriracha. Usually ginger, too, but I was out of ginger and subbed in a shallot, which changed the flavors a bit.

I've made dumplings with premade wonton skins too, which saves a lot of time and mess, but usually isn't quite as good. They're more noodly than homemade wrappers, which are more doughy and firm.

I use this recipe. Only modifications would be adding an extra half-cup of flour so that things are dry enough to work with. Other notes: it's really hard to save a damaged wrapper, once you roll it out and ends up holey. You can throw it out, or just accept that it will be slightly damaged. And I am unable to roll these so thin that the suggested 10/quarter is feasible. I ended up best around 8.

1/2 lb. ground pork
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 egg
1 tbsp. minced ginger (or shallot).

The filling ingredients get mixed together in a big bowl, most likely with your hands, because it takes some effort to get everything incorporated and even. To fill each dumpling, use only a small amount of filling, less than you'd think. Getting them to close properly is key and it's tough if they're overfilled. Since my wrappers were less than regular, I can't tell you how much goes in each, but just think small. Fold the ends together, and pleat to keep them closed. In my case, this tends towards mushing the dough around until it's closed.

Meanwhile, heat a small amount of oil in a nonstick pan until very hot. Add the dumplings to the pan, no more than fit comfortably: they can stick together, so leave space. Give them about a minute to sear, then add a half cup of water to the pan and cover with a lid. This will, of course, make your stove angry: boiling water and hot oil and all that. It will settle down quickly, and the trapped steam does most of the cooking.

When the liquid has boiled off, remove the lid and let the bottoms crisp slightly, another two minutes. Test one to make sure the pork has cooked through and lost its pink color; if not, let them sear a little longer.

I usually just eat these with soy sauce, although black vinegar also does the job.


  1. Mike, yum. I love pot stickers and the like. I have to get my fix from homemade too, but only because I don't like ground meat so I compromise.

    1. I did once flip the script and made these with a corn, cheese, and pepper filling (using storebought wontons). The formula almost always works.

  2. Yum!! I love dumplings and really ought to try making them more often. These sound great!