About This Recipe:
Dumplings are probably the most famous and beloved Chinese dish. Even though I love dumplings, I am very particular about them and have high standards. I like a thick, fluffy skin- I won’t eat dumplings with paper thin, almost see through wrappers. I also like the filling to be uniform in size and texture- no big chunks of protein or vegetables, and nothing crunchy or hard in them. And lastly, the filling itself should not be too salty since we have the delicious dipping sauce.
Making dumplings is definitely a labor of love, so it’s a fun activity for a slow weekend with family or friends. I suggest making a huge batch and storing them in the freezer because they will last a month or so and taste just as good from frozen. You can speed up the process if you have a food processor to help mince all of the filling ingredients, or a mixer to knead the dough, but I did everything by hand and it was doable. I think it was 100% worth the time because these are truly the best dumplings ever (even though I am biased.)
Ingredients (64 dumplings)
-1/4 cup vegetable oil
-2 tbls whole Szechuan peppercorns
-4 cups wheat flour (plus 1/2 cup for rolling out)
-2.5 cups water
-1 lb ground pork (or chicken)
-1 lb shrimp, finely minced
-1 head Napa Chinese cabbage
-1 cup scallions, finely minced
-3 tbls ginger, finely minced
-1/4 cup soy sauce
Dipping Sauce (for 2 people)
-1 tbl white vinegar
-1 tbl black vinegar (Chinkiang vinegar)
-1 tbl soy sauce
-2 tsps sesame oil
-2 tsps chili paste
Instructions (2 hours)
1. Peppercorn oil:
-In a small saucepan over medium high heat, heat up the vegetable oil. Add in the peppercorns and cook for about 5 minutes to infuse the oil. It is ready when the oil becomes fragrant and turns a light amber brown color (but make sure it doesn’t burn.) Strain the oil into a small bowl and set aside to cool.
-In a large bowl, combine the flour and water and mix until a dough forms. Then flour a large, clean surface and knead the dough for 10-15 minutes. The dough is ready when you push your thumb in and the dough bounces back. Put the dough in a floured bowl and cover with a damp paper towel for 20 minutes to let the dough rise.
-In a large pot, bring water to a boil and blanch the cabbage leaves for 1-2 minutes to soften. Drain and then finely mince the cabbage (should be about 3 cups worth.) Thoroughly squeeze out any excess water so that the dumplings do not become soggy.
-In a large bowl combine the cabbage, other filling ingredients, and peppercorn oil.
–Make the wrappers: Split the dough into 4 equal sections. Roll out the first section into a long log that is about 1 inch in diameter. Cut the log into pieces that are 1 inch wide. Press the piece down with the palm of your hand to form a flat circle. Roll out the dough into circles that are about 1/4 inch thick.
–Fill: Fill each wrapper with 1 tbl of the filling mixture.
–Seal: Tightly seal the dumplings by pinching the outsides together and then crimp the edges.
-In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook the dumplings for 8 minutes. Stir frequently to ensure that the dumplings do not stick to each other or the pot.