You may or may not already know this, but I have a mild (to moderate) obsession with dumplings. If I could only eat one thing for the rest of my life, it would probably be some form of dumpling. And when I say probably, I mean definitely. The challenge would be what type of dumpling. Preferably a selection. A ‘mezze’ of dumplings, covering all the best flavours.
I think 50% of why I like dumplings is the fact that I drown them in vinegar and chilli oil. Sometimes the dumpling is more a doughy, vegetable filled vehicle transporting dumpling condiments to my mouth. When my friend told me she only ever used soy sauce as a dipping sauce, I literally stopped eating mid-bite. What?! What are dumplings without vinegar and chilli?! I shudder at the thought.
Considering my healthy love for dumplings, recently I felt a building pressure to make my own. But I was so nervous! For some reason I thought dumplings were one of the hardest things to make, ever. reserved for the realm of highly talented chefs working in restaurants.
But when I saw these beautiful dumplings and these I felt slightly reassured that it could indeed be done at home. Commence the Sugar and Cinnamon dumpling month. That’s right, this whole month I’m going to explore the impossible, magical world of dumpling making and hopefully come out with some life-time skills and a whole freezer-full of dumplings, ready to get in my belly.
To kick off I made the simplest dumplings, that also happen to be my favourite. I made the classic flour and boiling water dumpling dough, with a classic mixed veggie and tofu filling. I actually managed to crimp my dumplings. Yes, they look a little funky. I didn’t have to worry about finding which ones were perfect for my photos, because not a single one came out perfect. They each had their own lopsided, floury charm that just could not be tamed.
I definitely recommend making these with a friend. Otherwise the rolling and cutting of the dough can take a really long time and it may even dry out a little before you finish filling them all. I watched this video before I started and it was really helpful seeing how to actually do it in action. I definitely did not make a video of myself shaping dumplings because I am highly uncoordinated and my dumplings came out looking like little trolls, but maybe one day I will be dumpling GIF quality.
I’m so excited about how these turned out! They were so yummy. Just as I went to cook them I realised our steamer has mysteriously gone missing, so I had to make do with boiling a few and pan-frying a few. Both worked well, but I think steaming would be the ultimate here. Post-stickers are always lots of fun, but I might save that challenge for the next instalment of dumpling fun.
You can always buy wonton wrappers as well, but the dough is super easy to make. And the dumplings come out tasting so fresh and soft and just uuugh. Amazing. If you don’t have vinegar and chilli, go out and buy some. Seriously! You will not regret it :)
Vegetarian Dumplings: Adapted from this recipe
Makes about 30
For the dough:
2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup boiling water (plus a few teaspoons extra, in case)
Put the flour and salt in a bowl and whisk well to get out any lumps. Boil the water (measuring it after in case some is lost as steam) and pour in a trickling, continuous stream into the flour, stirring with a wooden spoon as you go until a crumbly dough forms.
Turn the dough out on to a clean, lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes until the dough comes together. You may need to add a pinch more of water or flour to reach a soft, usable consistency. Put the dough into a sealed container for at least fifteen minutes (no longer than 2 hours) to let is rest before filling.
Cut the dough into four even pieces, and place all but one back in the container. Roll out with a rolling pin to 1/8 inch thickness (not too thin or they will fall apart as they cook) and cut with a cookie cutter into rounds. Lightly flour the rounds and keep on a plate covered in baking paper until ready to use.
For the filling:
1 cup shredded English spinach
0.5 cup shredded napa cabbage
1/2 a carrot, grated
175g (6 oz) firm tofu, chopped into tiny pieces
60g mushrooms, chopped
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp grated ginger
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 stalk green onion, finely diced
To make the filling, mix all the ingredients well until combined. Holding a dumpling wrapper in your hand, use a dessert spoon to put about half a spoonful of filling into the middle of the wrapper. Use your fingers to hold up the sides kind of like you are holding a taco. Use your thumb and other hand to crimp the side closest to you against the opposite side, closing the end. Push the filling in a little further to get in as much as possible (this gets easier as you get a feel for it. No one likes an under-filled dumpling!)
Continue to crimp the side closest to you against the other half of the dumpling, completely enclosing the filling and sealing off the end. Complete the rest of the dumplings. Store on a plate covered with baking paper and try to stop them touching, to prevent sticking. You can either freeze them straight away on the plate and then store them in a ziplock bag, or steam/boil them for about 5 minutes until tender and cooked through. Serve with vinegar and chilli oil.