Yummmmm… dumplings. So comforting, so many flavors and textures. Most Asian restaurants offer some sort of dumplings, some better than others, but I always feel that New York City has the best offerings. From Dumpling Man in the East Village to Dim Sum A-Go Go in Chinatown, my mouth just dances from the salty, meaty, crispy goodness. After reading issues of Lucky Peach and past issues of Bon Appetit, I finally got the bug to make my own. The process was actually much easier than I thought (once I figured out how to get my dumping ‘crimps’ just right,) it just took some time and patience. The essential way to get the crimp right is to make sure you don’t use too much filling. In my case, I had to use pre-made wonton wrappers (trimmed to a circle shape with a biscuit cutter,) I used 1 tsp of filling for each.
I started with the filling–made it up mostly with what I had on hand. I’d encourage you to experiment. The key is that your ingredients are all really small and about the same size–any chunks of, say, celery, may rip open your wrapper.
If your grocery store has round wrappers, awesome, use those. Mine didn’t, so I bought the wonton wrappers (egg roll wrappers are too big,) and cut them in a circle shape using a biscuit cutter. If you don’t have one, find a glass that has the right size opening and using a knife, cut the circle shape out. Once the filling is in the middle, fold the wrapper over and seal with a little water (I basically just dipped my finger in some water to do this–don’t use too much, or your dough will get soggy.) Next, the crimping–the art of the dumpling making. I put my right hand index finger on the right side of the dumping and my thumb on the left side and slowly twisted my index finger down my thumb. Since my dumplings were small, I managed 3 crimps to properly seal and make pretty. Be patient here. I’d say of the few dozen dumplings I made, I had to throw away about 5-6 (Mostly because I put too much filling in, used too much water, or filling ripped through.)
To cook, I placed about a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and seared one side. I flipped them over, tossed a few tablespoons of water in the pan, quickly covered with a lid, and allowed the dumplings to steam and sear the other side. Use your eyes here–once both sides are brown, they’re done. Less than 10 minutes for both sides. To serve, I put a small bowl of dipping sauce out (1/2 soy sauce, 1/2 rice wine vinegar, sugar to taste) plus Sriracha for spice. Delish. Overall, a great home victory. I think they’d make an awesome Super Bowl appetizer. Were they better than the frozen variety, like Trader Joe’s? Yes. Were they better than Dumpling Man, no. But let’s face it… folks that make dumplings for a living will certainly be better at it than me (I’m not Bobby Flay…)
Chicken Celery Scallion and Cilantro Dumplings
Makes 40 or so (depending on size of wrappers used)
1/2 pound chicken sausage
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 inch peeled ginger, minced or grated on a Microplane
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp. minced fresh cilantro
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 package of dumpling wrappers (or wonton wrappers cut to circles)
Dipping sauce: soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar
1. Combine top 8 ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Follow dumpling making steps as outlined above and place on parchment–be careful that dumplings don’t touch each other (they’ll stick!)
3. If not cooking right away, freeze dumplings on tray in freezer. Once frozen, place in a tupperware and store until ready to cook. You can cook them frozen the same way I outline in step #4, just be sure to give the dumplings a few more minutes to steam.
4. To cook, heat a frying pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to the pan. Add dumplings, making sure dumplings don’t touch each other (my pan fit about 15 comfortably.) Sear until browned. Flip dumplings over, add about 2 tbsp. of water to the pan, cover with a tight fitted lid, and steam/sear for a few minutes (until browned and steamed through–the steaming cooks the filling.)
5. Serve with dipping sauce. I like 1/2 soy sauce, 1/2 rice wine vinegar, a dash of sugar, and some hot sauce. You could grate some ginger in the sauce too.