Three Recipes For DIY Chinese Dumplings That Even You Can Make (Including A Gluten-Free Version!)

Some people meditate with river rocks or yoga or gongs. Some people throw Tarot cards or the I Ching. Some people chant. I, however, make dumplings.
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Gabi Moskowitz
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Some people meditate with river rocks or yoga or gongs. Some people throw Tarot cards or the I Ching. Some people chant. I, however, make dumplings.
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Some people meditate with river rocks or yoga or gongs. Some people throw Tarot cards or the I Ching. Some people chant. Good for them.

I, however, make dumplings.

I find it endlessly soothing -- the mixing of the meat, the flouring of the rolling board, the folding of the tiny ruffles that seal my dumplings together, creating a perfect vacuum for cooking the tender fillings.

It may not qualify as Zen, but it's my own personal Nirvana. And it's not as hard as you might think.

Read on for my three favorite dumpling recipes: one traditional meat, one vegan, and one gluten-free! I love them with dipping sauces (soy, black vinegar, chili paste, hot mustard), or over a plate of lightly-dressed mixed greens.

Chinese Pork Dumplings

The folding part can be tricky, but it gets easier with practice. Also, worst case scenario, if you can’t get the pleats down, feel free to just seal the edges with a flat, smooth seal. They won’t look like traditional dumplings, but they’ll still be tasty!

Makes about 40 dumplings

Ingredients

• 3/4 lb ground pork (you can also use beef, turkey, or chicken, but add 1 egg yolk to make sure it stays moist enough)

• 6 napa cabbage leaves, minced

• 8 garlic chives (available at Asian grocery stores. If you can't find them, substitute 4 green onions), minced

• 1 handful fresh cilantro, minced

• 1/4 medium onion (or 1 shallot), minced

• 3 tbsp minced ginger

• 3 cloves garlic, minced

• 3 tbsp soy sauce

• 1 tbsp sesame oil

• 2 tbsp corn starch

• 1 tbsp rice vinegar

• 1 tbsp Asian chili paste optional

• flour for dusting

• 40 round dumpling or potsticker wrappers, allowed to come to room temperature (look for these at an Asian specialty grocery store, or usually near the tofu at most well-stocked supermarkets)

• 2 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork (or beef/chicken plus an egg yolk), minced cabbage, garlic chives (or green onions), cilantro (if using), onion (or shallot), ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, corn starch (if using), rice vinegar and chili paste (if using). Mix well, using clean hands, to combine.

2. Place your dumpling wrappers on a lightly floured surface, along with the filling and a small bowl of water.

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3. To assemble the dumplings, use a clean finger to brush the edges lightly with water.

4. Place about 2 tsps of the pork mixture in the center of the wrapper, making it into a neat little mound, leaving a large border of empty wrapper.

5. Fold the wrapper in half, like a little taco, but do not seal it.

6. Make 5-6 small pleats on one side, as you seal the wrapper together, pinching gently to ensure total closure. The dumpling should resemble a little crescent moon.

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7. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers, until all the potstickers are made.

8. To cook the dumplings, heat the oil in a large frying pan (make sure it has a fitted lid and set it near the stove), over medium heat.

9. Working in batches, arrange the dumplings close to one another (but not touching) in the pan) and let cook for 2-3 minutes, until a golden crust begins to develop on the bottom.

10. Carefully pour about 1/4 cup water over the dumplings, then cover the pan quickly and let steam for about 3 minutes.

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11. Remove the lid and let the dumplings aerate until the excess water is cooked away and the bottoms become crisp again.

12. Transfer the cooked dumplings to a serving platter, repeat with the remaining uncooked dumplings, then serve immediately, with a half-and-half mixture of soy sauce and rice vinegar for dipping.

Sweet Potato Dumplings

These are so good, even meat dumpling lovers will clamor for them. If you have coconut oil, I highly recommend cooking these in it for an amazing flavor.

Makes about 30 dumplings.

Ingredients

• 1 large sweet potato (garnet yam), peeled and cut into 1" chunks

• 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce, plus more for dipping

• 2 tsp toasted sesame oil

• 1 medium shallot, minced

• 1 clove garlic, minced

• 2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro or chives 

• 1 small (1/2") piece ginger, peeled and grated

• 30 small, round wonton skins

• vegetable or coconut oil, for frying

Directions

1. Cook sweet potato chunks in a covered pot of boiling water until very tender, about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse until cool to the touch. Transfer sweet potato to a mixing bowl.

2. Use the back of a fork to mash the sweet potato until mostly smooth. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, shallot, garlic, cilantro or chives, and ginger, and stir well.

3. To assemble the gyoza, brush the edges of a wonton skin lightly with water (use a clean finger or a small pastry brush). Place about a teaspoon of the sweet potato mixture in the center of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half and make 5-6 small pleats as you seal the wrapper together, pinching gently to ensure total closure. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers, until all the gyoza are made.

4. To cook the gyoza, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan (make sure it has a fitted lid and set it near the stove), over medium heat. Working in batches, arrange the gyoza close to one another (but not touching) in the pan and let cook for 2-3 minutes, until a golden crust begins to develop on the bottom. Flip the gyoza, and cook on the other side for 1-2 minutes, until a crust develops.

5. Carefully pour about 3 tbsp water over the gyoza, then cover the pan quickly and let steam for about 3 minutes.

6. Remove the lid and let the gyoza aerate until the excess water is cooked away and the bottoms become crisp again.

7. Transfer the cooked gyoza to a serving platter, repeat with the remaining uncooked gyoza, then serve immediately, with soy sauce for dipping.

Gluten-Free Dumplings

I searched high and low for a viable gluten-free dumpling skin option that didn’t require my purchasing seven different kinds of flour, and was thrilled to discover that layering two wet Vietnamese rice paper spring roll wrappers on top of each other results in a thick, rice-based dumpling wrapper that is delicate enough to be tender, but sturdy enough to hold a nice amount of filling.

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To make:

1. Dip a rice paper wrapper in a bowl of cool water (or run it under the running tap) until the whole thing is wet. Gently shake off excess water and place the wet wrapper on a clean, dry surface.

2. Immediately wet a second rice paper wrapper completely, shake off the excess water, place it directly on top of the first one, and press down to seal.

3. Place a small bowl or cup (3-4 inches in diameter) on top of the wrapper and use a paring knife to cut around it to make a circle.

4. Place a dumpling round in your hand.

5. Place about 2 teaspoons of your choice of filling (the meat or sweet potato ones listed here both work well) in the center of the wrapper.

6. Gather the edges together, pressing to seal. It should look like a little purse.

7. Repeat with the remaining rice wrappers and filling until all the dumplings have been made. Arrange them on parchment or wax paper.

8. To cook the dumplings, heat the oil in a large frying pan (make sure it has a fitted lid and set it near the stove), over medium heat.

9. Working in batches, arrange the dumplings close to one another (but not touching) in the pan) and cook on one side for 2-3 minutes.

10. Sprinkle about 2 teaspoons of water over the dumplings.

11. Cover and let steam for 2-3 minutes, until the filling is cooked through.

12. Remove the lid and let the dumplings aerate until the excess water is cooked away, about 30 seconds.

13. Transfer the cooked dumplings to a serving platter.

14. Repeat with the remaining uncooked dumplings, then serve immediately, with your desired dipping sauces.