Man I love dumplings. But restaurant dumplings usually have pork in them so they're an infrequent meal.
I'm no zen master of dumpling wrapping, but it's really not that hard. Give it a go and have some fun in the kitchen. It doesn't matter if they're not perfect, this isn't Masterchef! It would also be a fun thing to get older children involved in helping with.
You can buy dumpling wrappers in Asian supermarkets, and even in the chilled section of many Asian green grocers. They're only a few dollars a packet, and I usually only use half at a time unless i'm cooking for visitors too. The rest of the packet will keep pretty much indefinitely in the freezer, just defrost on the bench at room temperature.
The method of salting the cabbage might sound a bit weird, but it's really not - it's just a way of getting all of the excess moisture out so your dumplings don't go soggy. It gets rinsed and squeezed too so there's no residual saltiness to worry about.
I made a serious chilli dipping sauce for an authentic touch, but you could just as easily use sweet chilli or another dipping sauce to make life easier. Black vinegar is deep, dark and funky. I can't get enough of it myself. The chilli and garlic oil I use comes in a jar and is more of a thick chilli paste in garlic oil. It's blow your head off hot, just the way I like it. Both are available from Asian supermarkets. I made a much less in your face combo of 50/50 soy sauce and tomato sauce for the big girl child.
You'll need a large frypan with a lid.
For the dumplings:
- Half a packet of dumpling wrappers (approx. 30)
- ¼ of a cabbage finely sliced
- 2 tablespoon salt
- 1 carrot grated (I used the finer side of my box grater), excess liquid squeezed out
- 3 mushrooms finely chopped (shitaake would be great, but I just used regular button mushrooms)
- 1-2 tablespoon fresh ginger finely grated
- 2 cloves garlic finely grated or crushed
- ½ block of tofu grated
- Handful of coriander finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon sesame oil
For the dipping sauce:
- 2 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon chilli and garlic oil
- Put your sliced cabbage in a bowl, sprinkle over the salt and mix through with your hands. Set aside for about 15 minutes while you get the rest of the dumpling filling ingredients ready.
- Put the cabbage into a colander and give it a thorough rinse. Then pick up handfuls of it and give it a good squeeze to get rid of as much excess liquid as you can. You'll be surprised at how much it'll shrink once you've done this.
- Mix cabbage, carrot, mushrooms, ginger, garlic, tofu, coriander and soy sauce together in a bowl. I've used an egg to bind the mixture before, but it's really not necessary.
- Pour 2 teaspoon sesame oil into the bottom of a large frypan and tilt to coat the bottom evenly, you'll put your dumplings in here as you go.
- Put some water in a little dish, you'll use this to moisten the edge of the wrappers.
- Put about 1 tablespoon filling in a wrapper, moisten the edge, fold in half then pleat and squeeze the front side of the wrapper to close the dumpling. The bottom should be flat so that they stand while cooking. No idea what i'm talking about? I don't think there's any great way to describe the method, so check out this YouTube clip which is a good demo. I've never heard of the freezer step he mentions, and had no trouble.
- Continue filling dumplings until your frypan is full, you run out of wrappers, or you run out of filling. Whichever comes first.
- You can set the dumplings aside for a while at this stage to get the rest of your meal ready.
- Once you're ready to cook, boil your jug and put the frypan over a medium to high heat. Pour boiling water into the frypan until it comes about 1cm up the sides of the dumplings. Put the lid on. What you're doing here is steam frying. Once the water has steamed away, the bottom of the dumplings will crisp up in a most delicious way.
- Cook the dumplings for about five minutes, keeping a close eye on them (burning your dumplings is known to make grown women cry). Once it looks like there's almost no water left, remove the lid and check a dumpling bottom. If they're not golden yet, leave the lid off while they continue to fry for another minute or two. Then use a large fish slice or spatula to carefully loosen dumplings from the pan and serve.
- Serve with sticky white rice, steamed greens and dipping sauce.
- Serves 2-4 depending on your hunger and what you serve them alongside.
For the dipping sauce:
- Mix sauce ingredients together then serve alongside meal in small dipping bowls.