Steamed, fried or floating in a tangle of noodles and soup, oh how I love me a dumpling.
My mother would make wonton soup for us as a treat. I lived for those little blue and white china bowls with matching spoons, chillies floating in soy sauce, steaming broth and fat, juicy dumplings simmering away in a huge pot over the stove. When I moved out I begged for the recipe and despite following it to the letter, they never seemed to taste as good. After years of frustration and hundreds and hundreds of dumplings folded and eaten later, I still haven’t worked out how she does them. I guess some things are just better left to your mum.
These aren't my mother's dumplings but they are still delicious and my go-to pork filling for wontons and pan fried dumplings. Use it as a base to experiment with. Try adding different herbs or different veg, perhaps some chinese cabbage, a little garlic or some chilli. I often add chopped green prawn and shitake mushroom.
This recipe should yield enough to use up a packet of wonton wrappers, if you make too many dumplings, not a bad thing, freeze them on a tray (so they don’t stick together) and then stash them for a rainy day. They steam from frozen in 7 minutes.
The pork – I will generally go to the butcher and ask for 350g of high welfare pork belly, coarsely ground. I personally prefer the texture of a course grind to fine ground mince (ie. The stuff you’d find at supermarket) which I find cooks too tightly like a meatball. The higher fat content of belly tends to sit around 20% which makes for a more luxurious dumpling.
The pastry - I don’t make my own wrappers. I have done in the past, but life’s too short. I buy either egg wonton wraps for soup or gyoza wraps for pan frying. Fresh or frozen, its up to you.
The soup – I make a super simple stock from chicken bones, necks, wings and an onion. Bring the bones up to a boil until the scum floats to the surface, then dump the lot in the sink. Wash everything and then return the lot to the pot with enough cold water to cover. Bring to the boil and then reduce to low until reduced by half. Season.
I'm quite happy to eat dumplings with broth and a heap of chilli but for a more substantial meal, shred the meat from the chicken carcass and throw in some tender crisp veg and some egg noodles.
Pork and Chive dumplings
350g pork belly – coarsely minced
3-4 fat spring onions, finely chopped
1 bunch of chives finely chopped
1tbs grated ginger (add more or less or omit completely)
half tin of water chestnuts, chopped – optional – but great for texture
Spinach, blanched, finely chopped and pressed out in a sieve. Or use frozen, but again, press all the water out.
1.5 tsp sesame oil
2-3tbs light soy sauce
1/2tsp white pepper
¼ tsp of sugar
Spring onion sliced on the diagonal
Light soy sauce or maggi seasoning sauce
Chopped fresh chilli or chilli oil like chiu chow
And just mix the lot together. I usually fry a small blob to test the seasoning, Adjust as you see fit.
Get a little bowl of water ready for sealing the edges of the dumpling and keep the wrappers under a damp towel to stop them drying out.
Lay out 1 wrapper flat on a clean surface, with a corner pointing at you. So it looks like a diamond. Start by dropping a teaspoon of filling in the centre of the square, then wet the two top edges. Fold the bottom half over the dumpling, and seal, pressing out all the air. You should have a little triangle. Now just wet the bottom right point and then cross both over each other and press to seal. I would estimate about 5 dumplings per person
Once all you're finished folding and you're happy with the flavour of the broth, drop the wontons in, they should take about 10 minutes to cook through. Ladle the dumplings and broth into warm bowls, top with sliced spring onion, soy and fresh chilli.