This is the first time that I’ve bought pre-made dumpling wrappers, and sadly I didn’t get the right kind so they didn’t turn out that well! I bought wonton wrappers which are designed for boiling, but I chose to steam them, thinking that the effect would be much the same. Sadly the wrappers are too thick for steaming and I ended up just eating the filling from the dumplings and leaving behind the wrappers. Still, it was so much quicker than making my own dumpling skins that I’ll definitely do it again another time, but next time I’ll pay more heed to the cooking instructions on the packet.
To make the dumpling filling, I took a packet of lean pork mince and added flavours to it, kind of freestyling as I went along. The amounts below are guesses based on the photo, since I either forgot to take notes or forgot to keep the notes that I’d taken…
Pork dumplings (makes about 15):
- 450g lean pork mince
- 3 spring onions, thinly sliced into rounds
- 3 birds eye chilis, seeded and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic
- equivalent amount of fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp dark soy
- 1 tsp light soy
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 dash ground white pepper
- pack of dumpling wrappers, fresh or defrosted
I would err on the side of caution when it comes to those ingredients – the best thing to do is use less of everything, mix it all together and then pinch off a tiny bit of the mix and fry it, so you can taste for seasoning and add more to the raw mixture as required. It’s best that you don’t taste the raw pork mixture. Nobody needs that.
Once everything’s mixed through, get your dumpling wrappers opened and drop about a tablespoon of the mix (depending on the size of the wrappers) into the centre of them. Pat the mixture out into an oblong shape, parallel to the top and bottom edge of the wrapper then fold the wrapper over and pinch firmly to seal.
You can see that I had already folded this one over, then unfolded it when I realised I didn’t have a photo of this step.
Once you have all the dumpling wrappers filled, use a scone cutter, pastry wheel or similar to cut round the shape of the dumpling and get rid of the extra pastry at the corners. If you are making wontons, you can fold the pastry differently so it makes a little moneybag shape, and leave the extra pastry on, if you prefer. Once you have finished shaping them, put the dumplings into a bamboo steamer lined with greaseproof paper, or cut squares of greaseproof paper for each dumpling to sit on while it steams. If you are doing all the dumplings at once you’ll need a stack of three steamers, and I usually find it best to swap the top and bottom ones half way through cooking – give the dumplings eight minutes and they should be ready, though you can check by cutting into the centre of one and making sure there is no pinkness.
When the dumplings are cooked, they will be quite wrinkly and look a bit sticky. They also look a bit like brains. This is the approved texture and appearance, but the wrappers remained undercooked while the meat was cooked through, because I was steaming and not boiling them. Had I continued to cook them, the meat would have become dry, so I took them out and just ate my way round the half-cooked dough. Not the most appetising end to what started off as quite a promising endeavour, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. Except maybe a deep sense of boredom.