Before I learned Beat an egg or Cooking dried pasta, I was pleating dumplings under my mother’s watchful eye. In many Asian homes Making dumplings is a ritual, a meditation and often a family affair of several generations. Homemade dumplings are one of the easiest foods to eat, but they can intimidate even the most confident home cook. And I understand the reluctance. Of course, with the constant rush of perfectly shaped dumplings on social media, we are questioning our ability to replicate these lovely little bites.
But I’m here to offer this clichéd, yet essential, piece of advice: When it comes to making dumplings, practice makes perfect (or near-perfect) master. Your first few attempts at sculpting dumplings may leave you feeling discouraged. They’ll likely be a little ugly, maybe not instagrammable yet. Hang up the phone and persist. Fold, crimp, fold and repeat. Again and again. I’ve practiced for decades and yet there are days when I haven’t done them for a while, or when I’m not feeling the vibe, I can still hand out pretty mediocre looking dumplings. But the advantage? Ugly dumplings, like imperfect vegetables, can still taste delicious – and these tips I wrote in my new book With love to Asia, will help you get there:
1. Season the filling well
Whatever you choose for your filling, season it well. If it tastes boring before you put it in the packaging, it will be even more tasteless as a dumpling as the packaging easily mutes the taste. Depending on what your filling is and if you don’t want to taste it raw, you can do a “spot test” and boil a tablespoon of the filling to test the seasoning.
2. Make sure to dry it out
Make sure your filling isn’t too wet as excessive moisture increases the likelihood of the packaging breaking. Remove as much liquid from the vegetables as possible before adding them to the mixture. For greens like spinach, kale, or bok choy, blanch them first, then squeeze them firmly with your hands. If you find that your filling has too much liquid in it, I recommend draining the entire mixture in a colander. Another trick I learned from my mom is adding a teaspoon of cornstarch or breadcrumbs to soak up the liquid.
3. Don’t be afraid to experiment with fillings
I like to experiment with the dumpling fillings and try different vegetables and flavors that are not specifically Asian. Almost anything can be made into a dumpling. For example, my waste-free “dumpling scraps” are filled with reused roasted vegetables, beans, herbs, spices, and other foods that are in my refrigerator fillings.
This springy filling has peas, chives, and ricotta (which help to bind them together!).
4. Keep it together
Fillings that “fall apart” can make folding your dumpling even more difficult. Finely chop your filling ingredients or even give them a quick flash in the blender or food processor to make the mixture easier to work with. If you have a filling that feels too sparse, like it won’t hold together (a simple trick is to squeeze the filling in your hands to see if it stays together) add something to “bind” it such as B. Bean puree. Mashed potatoes or a soft, creamy cheese like ricotta. This makes it easier to hold the filling in place when it is folded.
5. Less is more
Overfilling the dumplings can make the folding process cumbersome. If you are new to dumpling making, less is more and gives you more control over folding. Start with 1-2 teaspoons of filling and work your way up. Once you are comfortable with the process, you can process more filling, such as: B. about 1 tablespoon.
Only 1 teaspoon!
6. Store-bought wrappers are the most convenient option
Store-bought dumpling wrappers are the best option for everyday cooking. I keep packets of round dumpling wrappers in my freezer and put them in the fridge overnight to thaw them before use. Store-bought wrappers are incredibly versatile and can be used to make dumplings for steaming, cooking, or potstickers.
Unlike homemade packaging, the edges must be moistened so that they stick together when folded. The easiest way to do this is to have a small, shallow bowl of water nearby. Dip the edge of the sleeve in the water and turn the sleeve in the water with two hands until it is wet all around.
7. But homemade wrappers are easier than you think
The simplest and most versatile homemade dumpling wrappers are just made of flour and water, which makes them incredibly pantry-friendly. Doughs made with just boiled water are malleable and require minimal rest. They’re easy to roll out in thin wrappers, best for potstickers, roasting, and steaming (rather than boiling). One of the best things about hot water dough is that you can work with it right out of the refrigerator. This is ideal if you want to prepare your dough in advance.