Pork and Napa Cabbage Water Dumplings

This was my first attempt at making dumplings from scratch, and they were a hit.  I did use store-bought dumpling wrappers, but after subsequent trips to H-Mart, I think I have enough ingredients to start trying to make my own.  In theory, they taste better and are more forgiving when wrapping (a good thing, I must have destroyed a lot of wrappers while learning to do this!).  This is a great starter recipe for learning dumplings!  From my Asian Dumplings cookbook, by Andrea Nguyen.

  • 2 cups packed finely chopped napa cabbage (I substituted green cabbage as it’s what I had on hand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup chopped Chinese chives or scallions
  • 2/3 pound ground pork, coarsely chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Dumpling wrappers, or 1 pound dumpling dough

To make the filling, put the cabbage in a bowl, toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Set aside for about 15 minutes to draw excess moisture from the cabbage, then drain in a mesh strainer (or squeeze gently by hand).    Should yield about half a cup packed cabbage.  This keeps the dumplings from getting too watery.

Transfer the cabbage to a bowl and add the ginger, Chinese chives, and pork.  Lightly mash the ingredients together.  In a small bowl, stir together a scant 1/2 teaspoon of salt, white pepper, chicken stock, soy sauce, rice wine, canola oil, and sesame oil.  Pour the seasonings over the pork and cabbage and fold the ingredients together.  Once the pork is broken up, stir to combine into a thick mixture – there should be no large chunks of pork.

Cover and set aside for 30 minutes to let the flavors come together, then take the wrapper of your choice (or homemade) and scoop about one tablespoon of the filling per dumpling.  Fold and pleat into the shape of your choice – I do half moons because they are easy.

Once all the dumplings have been assembled, bring a large pot of water to a boil and gently drop each dumpling into the water, using a spoon to break them apart if they stick together.  Keep the water at a slow boil – a hard boil can make the dumplings fall apart.  Cook about 8 minutes, serve with dipping sauce.

Note:  This is a great make-ahead meal.  The filling can be made ahead, or you can even assemble the dumplings and refrigerate them for a few hours, or freeze them for later.

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