dumplings are a staple for us Chineses and we enjoy them as a meal instead of appetizer. We can’t deny that dumplings are one of the most important foods in northern Chinese cuisine. The other difference is we always cook with freshly made dumpling dough instead of frozen dumpling wrappers. Even when you buy dumpling wrappers at a vegetable market you will certainly find small packs of freshly machine-made dumpling wrappers that come in small plastic bags.
Since I was young, I have been spoiled with great homemade dumplings. My grandma was a northern lady who loved cooking and sharing food. And, she was really good at it! Preparing and making dumplings was one of her favorite tasks, and my dad learnt all the secrets from her, passing the the skill to my mom.
My grandma’s secret weapon to making great pork dumplings was fresh shrimp. In traditional pork dumpling recipes, home cooks usually use rehydrated dried shrimps to increase flavor. But my grandma insisted on using fresh shrimp. Not only does it add umami and depth of flavor, the texture of the dumplings will be perfect when you use fresh shrimp, producing some of the best dumplings I’ve ever had.
I remember the first time my cousin tried dumplings at my parents’ place. He was astound how great a pork dumpling can taste. He was still in middle school. Back then it’ was a luxury thing to use expensive fresh shrimp in the dumplings because dumplings are considered a common daily staple, like rice, and should be cheap to make. When he went back home and insisted on using shrimps in the dumplings, my uncle scolded him saying it’s a crazy thing to do. When my mom told me the story, I suddenly realized how special these dumplings are, and I’ve been eating them all the time.
Today I’m sharing this family recipe with you. It is simple, elegant, and fresh. You can use store bought dumpling wrappers as well. But if you’re into Chinese food, I highly recommend you to make the dumpling dough from scratch. To make the task easier, you can make steamed dumpling dough instead of boiled dumpling dough. Either way, these dumplings will turn out juicy, tender, and with great texture.
As I mentioned in my previous post, great dumplings emphasize the freshness of the filling and dough. By using homemade dumpling dough, not only do you create a soupy dumpling filling, you can make bigger dumplings that taste (and are more) satisfying. You’ll see my recipe has a very simple ingredient list. Once you’ve tried fresh dumplings, you’ll be surprised how flavorful they are. You’ll never go back ready made dumplings.
These dumplings are very satisfying and you can serve them as a main dish. You can add a simple appetizer, such as cucumber salad, wood ear mushroom salad, spinach salad, or you can serve the dumplings with millet congee and quick pickles. That’s exactly what we do in China.
For more filling recipes for dumplings, check out my favorite lamb dumpling recipe, vegetarian dumplings, and pork mushroom dumplings.
I recorded a short video to show you how easy it is to cook this dish. Find more videos to learn Chinese cooking on my YouTube channel!