Pork and Cabbage Dumplings (Jiaozi)

Homemade dumplings are a great quick supper, particularly if you make more than you need and can freeze some for later. It’s also a great party food – have the guests come ready to help wrap their dumplings! Kids also love this activity – just be sure hands are washed and be able to put up with a wild variety of shapes and sizes. The wrappers are readily available in many conventional stores – look for round “gyoza” wrappers, not the thinner, square “wonton” wrappers for this recipe. You can also make your own wrappers – more on that another day.

ingredients:

  • 2 pkg gyoza wrappers (approximately 36 per pkg)

filling:

  • 1 lb napa cabbage, cut into large chunks
  • 1 lb ground pork (or turkey or chicken), preferably pastured
  • 1. 5 tsp salt
  • 2 T light soy sauce
  • 3 scallions, minced
  • 2 T fresh ginger root, minced
  • 2 T cooking oil
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 1 large egg

dipping sauce:

  • light soy sauce
  • black or rice wine vinegar
  • sesame oil
  • chili paste, chopped fermented chilies, and/or chili oil
  • minced ginger root
  • minced scallions

making the filling:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the cabbage until it is finely chopped – don’t overprocess to a paste!
  2. Add 1/2 tsp salt, mix well, and allow to rest for 10-15 m. Strain, then with your hands, squeeze out the juices that accumulate – you’ll have just under 2 c of cabbage left in the bowl.
  3. Add the remaining filling ingredients, and mix well to combine thoroughly.
  4. Prepare a large tray and a small bowl of water.
  5. If you plan to boil them, start heating a large pot of water.

wrapping the dumplings: (video below instructions!) 

  1. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of a wrapper (it takes a while to figure out how much it will hold: too much and the filling will pop out during cooking; too little and you’ll end up with too much dough, too little filling).
  2. Dip your finger into the bowl of water and run it around 1/2 of the circle’s edge.
  3. Fold the circle in 1/2 and pinch the middle of the 1/2 circle closed.
  4. With your other hand, pinch part of the outer edge closed so that you have a pucker between the outer edge and the pinched middle, then pleat that closed.
  5. Repeat step 8 on the other side of the pinched middle, squeeze the seam tightly closed, and place the dumpling on the tray.
  6. Repeat until all wrappers are used up.

cooking the dumplings:

  • Boiling: drop the dumplings one at a time into the boiling water. When it returns to a boil, add 1 c cold water. Do this 2 more times, so that you’ve added 3 c cold water total. When it returns to a boil the 3rd time, the dumplings should be done.
  • Steaming: Arrange the dumplings close together but not touching on a greased steamer layer. Steam for 15 m.
  • Pan-frying: In a skillet or wok (unless your wok or skillet is reliably seasoned, you may want to use nonstick in this case), heat 1 T oil until it shimmers. Add the dumplings in concentric circles, close together. Fry the bottoms of the dumplings until golden brown, quickly add 1/2 c water, and cover. Steam for 10-15 m, testing for doneness by cutting 1 dumpling open – it should no longer be pink inside. Invert onto a plate to serve.

serving:

Have small bowls for diners to mix dipping sauce to their taste, or simply sprinkle the desired ingredients over the dumplings in each person’s bowl.

do ahead:

  • Wrappers and filling can both be frozen – defrost in the refrigerator before using.
  • Finished, uncooked dumplings can be frozen on a cookie sheet, then put into a container or plastic bag and frozen for up to 6 months. Be sure they’re not getting crushed. Cook from frozen – do not defrost, or they will lump together – adding approximately 5 m to cooking time.
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