By some divine force of godliness, Chinese New Year fell on a three day weekend! (You thought I was going to say Valentine’s Day right? pft!) We celebrated a day early since my dad doesn’t have the pleasure of incubating at home on Monday, but that only meant copious amounts of food one day earlier.
I usually split holidays between both sides of the family- my mom’s side in the morning into lunch and my dad’s side for dinner. This time, I made it just in time to my maternal grandmother’s as they were preparing to making 200+ dumplings from scratch. Yes, 200. And my aunt said it nonchalantly, as if she makes that amount every other week.
My mother, aunts, and grandmother have been making dumplings from scratch since forever. My mom used to tell me stories about how they’d wake up super early at like 4am to begin making the food for New Years. They eat dumplings every year at this time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t make them often. In fact, ever since I told my grandmother how her dumplings are seriously the best ones on the face of the earth, she tries to prepare a bagful ahead of time before I come. Man, I’m so spoiled.
The following recipes makes… alot. I don’t know when you’d ever need (or want for that matter) to make 200+ dumplings, but in case if you do, I’ve left in the measurements. I trust that you can divide and scale down if necessary.
As a side note, these are vegetarian. You can stuff literally anything into these pocketfuls of goodness. But, if you want some out of the world vegetarian ones, you’ve found what you’ve been looking for all along.
- 4lb of flour (HOLY KAW, I KNOW)
- 48 oz water
That was easy.
- One head of white cabbage
- Bundle of scallions
- Garlic (optional)
- Diced tofu
- Mushroom powder
- Sesame Oil
There are no measurements for the filling because it’s really difficult for me to determine how salty or just how much you like mushrooms. You have to adjust everything to your taste as scary as that sounds.
Finely dice the mushrooms, scallions, tofu and white cabbage. Because white cabbage retains alot of water, prepare a side bowl filled with salty water and let the white cabbage rest in there for 10-20 seconds. Then, using a strainer, strain the white cabbage until all of the water is out.
After, combine everything into a large bowl (or pot). Add in a bit of salt, mushroom powder, and sesame oil. If you’re making the filling with meat, add some soy sauce. But if it’s just vegetables, soy sauce will give off this weird taste, so we stay away from it. You should add enough oil so that the filling slightly glistens, but isn’t too oily. Set aside to rest.
Time for the dough part! This is easy. It’s really just water and flour. The measurements given for the dough are approximate, so you may need more or less depending on conditions.
That’s really it. While pouring the water in a steady stream with one hand, use the other to incorporate the water into the dough. You really gotta put some effort in and work your hand in a counter clockwise motion, eventually grabbing the ball of dough and rotating it so that it mixes with the non-wet four. Make sure that you’re using COLD water.
The goal is to get the dough to the point where the flour no longer sticks to your hands and fingers. At that point you want to punch down the dough.
Let it sit there for at least an hour. You want to let it sit so that any pockets of powdery flour will disappear and for that texture you get when biting into freshly made dumpling skin. It’s hard to explain, but yes, there is a texture.
After that hour or so has passed by, you want to separate the dough into chunks. We separated it into 6. Basically, grab a handful, knead it into a ball and repeat. Take one of those balls and re-knead. Make sure you spread some flour on your counter or tabletop so that your dough doesn’t stick. It should look like the dough above.
Then, cut that lump in half. Roll one half into a long log, about 1 inch thick. If you’re right-handed, hold the log in your left hand and with your right hand, pinch off “pellets” that are thumb length. After, flatten the pellets by pushing your palm against them on the counter.
Set the rest of your dough aside (if you’re wondering what to do with it). Yay! Time to start rolling out the dough to dumpling skins! Take a rolling pin and flatten the pellets out by rotating the pellet with each roll.
Now that you’ve made your dumpling skins, fill em up! Using a small spoon, scoop a heaping amount into the center of each skin. Take the two centers, fold the skin so that i looks like a half moon, and pinch them. When you’re pinching, your right four fingers should be against your left four fingers, and your thumbs should be doing all the work. If that didn’t make sense, look below on the left bottom.
To cook, boil water in a large pot. When the water is bubbling, gently plop in the dumplings. They should only take a few minutes to cook. Generally, you know that dumplings are done when they rise to the surface of the water, but because these are freshly made, they’ll almost immediately rise. So cook for a few more minutes so that the insides all cook evenly.
And there you have it. Fresh homemade dumplings. That wasn’t so hard, was it now?
And you know what dumplings taste great with!? KETCHUP! (Or is it just me who thinks so??)