January 17, 2010

Dumpling-Making BDay Party

My first dumpling!

Or pan fry

Some odd ball dumplings

Crispy fried dumpling

For my birthday last year, I rented out the VIP room at Blue Owl for a lively cocktail party. This year I decided to focus on the food, so I hosted a small dumpling-making birthday party at home with a handful of friends. I haven't made dumplings since my early teenage years while living in the middle of Indiana. Thanks to Grace of gracenotes nyc and my mom (who didn't think that I could pull this off), I had a pretty good idea of how to make the filling and run the show.

I anticipated that my friends/worker bees would arrive with an appetite, so I set out a plate of prosciutto and peach bundles and an array of "adventurous" cheeses to satiate them early on. I made two bowls of filling before the gang arrived and had purchased several packages of pre-made wrappers to make it easier for everyone. Most people incorporated their own creativity into the dumpling folding (see third image). My good buddy GJ had the most unusual looking "dumps" by far. I think he even threw some cheese into one of them...

With nine people at the party (including six guys), two pounds of ground pork was no where near enough to satisfy everyone. I made a mental note to buy about 4lb of pork for 8-10 people in the future. This would be especially important if the filling doesn't include any other substantial ingredients such as mushroom or cabbage. Despite the shortage, we still managed to make about 60 to 70 dumplings that disappeared within minutes.

To compliment the meal, we had an array of beverages ranging from pino grigio to stella artois. For dessert, I served some Häagen-Dazs vanilla bean ice cream with pomegranate seeds. R also brought over some uber-tasty cupcakes from Butter Lane. I thought that the Apple Spice cupcake with popcorn on top was the most creative. 

More pics can be found here.

Below is an "altered" version of my mom's recipe. It's still needs to be refined, but I think that it's a good start. Alternatively, check out Grace's recipe for a heartier dumpling mix. 

Chinese Dumplings (Boiled or Pan Fried)
From My Mom
Prep time: 1 hr / 15-20 min / Ready in 1hr 30 min
Yields: 60 dumplings (estimate 8-12 dumplings per person)


2 packages of dumpling wrappers ($2 from your local asian grocery store or you can make your own)

2 lb ground pork

3 heads of Napa cabbage

2 egg

2 tbsp chopped ginger

2 tbsp minced garlic

10 stems finely chopped green onion

1 cup cooking wine

2 tbsp sugar

3 tsp salt

1 tbsp chicken powder (optional)

a small bowl of water (for wrapping)


1. Combine the ground pork, cooking wine, salt and starch in a large bowl and mix well with a spatula or (better yet) your hands until the mixture feels sticky (about 10 minutes).

2. Bring a large pot of water to boil, then blanch the cabbage for 1 minute. Drain and run cabbage under cold water to cool. When the cabbage is cool enough to handle, finely dice
it up. Use a paper towel to squeeze the residual water out.

3. Add cabbage, onions, ginger, garlic, sugar, and egg to the pork mixture. Mix everything up with your hands until the cabbage is well integrated in with the pork.

4. Take one dumpling wrapper from the package and lay it flat on your working surface (e.g., table, plate, or cutting board). If your wrapper is sticky, lay some flour down on your working surface. Dip your finger into the water bowl and trace the outside rim of the skin with the water. This will help seal the dumplings when you fold them up.

5. Place about a 2/3 spoonful of dumpling mix down on the center of the skin. There should be about a half-inch of space between the edge of the skin and the meat. If there's too much, the dumpling will overflow. Lift the two opposite "edges" of the wrapper up and join them at the top to form a half crescent shape. Press firmly on the top to ensure that they stick together. Then continue to fold the rest like an accordion. Each dumpling should probably have 4-7 folds. This is just one of many methods of how to wrap a dumpling. From the last photo above, you can see that other variations exist. Be creative and have fun! Experiment with different shapes. The only important thing is to make sure that all sides are sealed. There's no need for pork to escape.

6. Gather all of your finished dumplings on a non-stick or flour coated baking tray. Once you have all of your dumplings completed, it is time to head to the stove top.

To boil dumplings... bring a pot of water to boil and drop the dumplings in. Turn down the heat to medium and allow the water to start boiling again. Once they do, pour a cup of cold water into the dumplings and wait for them to boil again. This process should take about 15 minutes. Once they're ready, scoop them out onto a plate with a slotted or perforated spoon.

To pan-fry dumplings... pour 2 tbsp of oil into a large skillet and turn the heat to med-high. Place the dumplings onto the pan, but make sure that they do not touch one another. Once the bottom of the dumplings turn a light golden brown (2-3 minutes), pour enough water into the pan so that they're half covered. It's ideal if you can cover your pan now with a lid, but not required. The contained steam help them cook more thoroughly, quicker. Don't touch the dumplings until 95% of the water is evaporated. Once the bottoms seem solid, rotate each dumpling around on its other sides until they're a bit fried as well. They'll look a bit gross at first, but will eventually come out alright.

You can also first boil the dumplings and then pan fry them quickly for an extra crisp around the edges.

For dipping, I prefer rice vinegar for boiled dumplings and chili sauce for fried.


Tangled Noodle said...

What a great idea! Your friends are excellent dumpling-folder, particularly GJ's 'twist'. Thanks for sharing your mom's recipe!

Anonymous said...

Do you think having a few people on cooking duty (experienced with kitchen appliances no doubt, I know I wouldn't trust some of -my- friends to even boil water alone!) would help speed the process along? Once pan-fried, they can easily be kept warm for the rest to be done. Then as people finish their part of the dumpling making, they can wash up and start snacking right away!

Fresh Local and Best said...

What a fun idea! I love the creative folds that transpired.

Zhenfan said...

Your dumplings looked much much better than I expected! even better than mine (maybe), hahaha...

Julie said...

Thanks mom...

Julie said...

Adisson: I think that it would indeed save a bit of time if you're able to immediately begin cooking a batch of dumplings while another is being made. I think that dumplings are always better right out of the pan/water, so if possible, serve immediately! My coffee table tripled as the work station and dining table, so it was difficult to allow people to eat and make them at the same time. Thus, I waited for a bit until most dumplings were finished.

Post a Comment