The Yao Family's Chinese Pork and Vegetarian Dumplings
For the dough:
- 3 cups flour
- 1 cup water (may need 1 additional teaspoon of water if dough is too hard
For the pork and shrimp filling:
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 pound shrimp
- 3 spring onions, chopped fine (do not use food processor)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 2 cups Chinese/Napa cabbage, chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons rice wine (or cooking sherry)
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 egg
For the vegetarian dumpling filling:
- 1/2 pound Shanghai bok choy (blanched and drained)
- 1 package frozen chopped spinach (cooked and drained)
- 2 cakes extra firm tofu
- 1/2 pound fresh shitake mushrooms (you can also use dried and reconstituted)
- 1 scallion
- 1 cup bamboo shoots (fresh is best, but you can also used canned)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil for stir frying
- 1-1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon white pepper
For the dipping sauce:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon hot chili sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
Step 1: To make the dumplings: Put flour in a large bowl, add water slowly and mix/knead until a nice dough forms.
Step 2: Knead again on a floured surface.
Step 3: Cover with a damp cloth and let dough rest 1/2 to 1 hour while you make the filling. The dough will have a smooth texture when rested.
Step 4: To make the vegetarian filling: If using dried mushrooms, first soak 6-8 black mushrooms in boiling water for 30 minutes. This step is not necessary if using fresh.
Step 5: Mince mushrooms, bamboo shoots, and tofu one at a time in a food processor, then transfer to a big bowl. Chop spinach, bok choy, and scallions in food processor and set aside. You will have a lot of chopping to do if you do not have a food processor. Try to get all the pieces about the same size so they can bind together more easily.
Step 6: Sauté with ginger, minced mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tofu, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and pepper in vegetable oil for about 5 minutes until fragrant.
Step 7: Remove from heat and add chopped bok choy, spinach, and scallion. Add sesame oil. Cool in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Step 8: To make the meat filling: Mix everything together thoroughly. Don't be afraid to use your hands. For the cabbage - it's easiest to chop fine in a food processor, but make sure the leaves are completely dry before you do so—add a little salt and squeeze out the liquid.
Step 9: To make the dumpling: Shape the dough into a long cylinder about one inch in diameter.
Step 10: Cut the cylinder into 1/2 inch pieces.
Step 11: Flatten each ball slightly with your palm, and dust with flour. It is important that they are all exactly the same size and shape.
Step 12: Use a Chinese rolling pin (basically a one inch dowel) to roll from the outside of the flattened ball towards the center, then turn the ball a little, and repeat—roll, turn, roll, turn, roll, turn—until you get a relatively round, flat wrapper, about three inches in diameter. Ideally it should have a slight "pillow" in the center.
Step 13: To fill the dumplings: Put one wrapper in the palm of your left hand and put a tablespoon of filling in the middle. Fold the wrapper in half and make one pinch in the center of the half circle. Then pinch together the right corner, then pinch together the dough between the corner and the middle. Repeat on the other side. Seal whatever gaps remain. The dumpling will sit up in a slightly curved shape. Place dumplings on well-floured tray until ready to cook - at this point the trays can be placed in the freezer if you want to save the dumplings to cook later.
Step 14: To cook the vegetarian dumplings (Boiling method - jiao zi): Steaming is a good way to go for vegetarian dumplings because they are more delicate and break apart more easily when cooking. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (about half filled). Place dumplings in boiling water, stir gently and cover. Wait for the pot to come back up to a hard boil, then douse it with 12 ounces of water and cover. Wait for the pot to come back up to a boil, then douse it again with 12 ounces, uncover and wait for it to boil. They will float when done. Taste one to make sure. Do not overcook or the dumplings will fall apart. Lift out the dumplings with a bamboo strainer and put them on several large dinner plates to serve family style.
Step 15: To cook the pork and shrimp dumplings (pan-fry method; guo tie—pot stickers): Put 2 tablespoons oil in a flat frying pan. Arrange the dumplings neatly around the pan, and fry for one minute over medium heat until the bottoms are browned.
Then add 3 drops of vinegar to about 12 ounces of water and pour this into the skillet.
Cover tightly and cook over medium heat until the water is evaporated (about 10-12 minutes). Be careful to scrape the dumplings out of the skillet using a spatula. Alternatively, you can cover the pan with a plate and flip the dumplings upside down onto the plate so that their golden brown bottoms are facing up. Serve with dipping sauce or Zhenjiang vinegar.
As the dumplings begin to cool, they will stick to the plate and get soggy underneath. Pick up any leftover dumplings with your chopsticks and turn them over so that their undersides can air dry. Make sure they are not touching each other or they will stick. Before you go to bed, cover the plate with plastic wrap, and in the morning you can pan fry them in oil for breakfast.