Now I feel foolish because making homemade dumplings is SO EASY. Ridiculously easy, in fact, and fun! They just might be my new favorite thing to make. I'll show you here how I learned to make them, and share the recipe with you for both steamed and fried dumplings and their dipping sauce.
Shitake & Bok Choy Dumplings with Soy-Rice Vinegar Sauce
makes about 20 dumplings
8 shitake mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and finely chopped
1/4 lb. baby bok choy, cleaned and finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
1/2 bunch chives, very finely chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. arrowroot
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
20 round dumpling wrappers (*Check ingredients! The yellow wrappers usually have egg in them. The white ones are usually egg-free.)
4-5 soft lettuce leaves (like romaine) to line steaming basket
For sauce (makes 1/2 cup):
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. finely chopped scallion
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp. agave nectar
1. Make sauce: Combine all sauce ingredients and pour into dipping bowls.
2. Make dumplings: Combine all dumpling ingredients (except lettuce leaves) in a medium bowl. Mix together well, cover, and place in refrigerator 15 - 30 minutes. Take mixture out and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. (If you have cheesecloth and can use that to squeeze liquid out of the mixture, that would be perfect. I didn't have any cheesecloth, so I just squeezed out as much as I could with my hands.)
3. Put some water in a small bowl. Lay each dumpling wrapper on a flat surface. Dip your finger in the water and then use it to just moisten around the outer edge of the wrapper, in a circle. Do not use too much water or the wrapper will be very difficult to work with.
4. Place a rounded Tbsp. of filling in the center of each round, then fold neatly in half (like you are making a taco).
5. Here's the fun part. At the top of your "taco," use your fingers to pinch together the two sides at the top, so they create a little pucker (I like to call them fish lips) as shown in the photo below.
6. Take the puckered section, and fold the two "lips" over to the side, pinching the seams closed. Repeat this process once on each side of the center pleat, so that you have three pleats total. Pinch the seams closed so that dumpling is completely sealed, making sure to press out as much air as possible. Pick each dumpling up from the seamed edge and lightly tap the base on a flat surface until it can stand up on its own.
7. If you are going to steam your dumplings, line steamer with lettuce leaves, and place dumplings on top of leaves, as many as you can fit without them touching each other. Steam for 10 - 15 minutes.
8. If you are going to pan-fry your dumplings, add just enough oil (coconut or vegetable) to a non-stick pan on med-high to lightly coat the bottom of pan. Add as many dumplings to pan as you can fit without them touching each other. Cook dumplings undisturbed until they are browned on the bottom. Once you see they have browned, add some water (just enough so that there's maybe 1/4 inch of water on the bottom of the pan), quickly cover and steam about 10 minutes, until the water boils off and pan is mostly dry again. Serve hot with soy-rice vinegar sauce and enjoy!