Dim sum is one of the best meals to share with friends. Many love because it’s perfect for tasting lots of different things without committing any one dish. It’s very convivial, too, with lots of conversation and sharing.
While it’s hard to pick a favourite dim sum dish (and there are plenty), I think it’s safe to say that dumplings rate highly for many people. However, they’re not often something people consider making at home, despite not only much easier to make than you’d think but also an excellent activity to get your kids in the kitchen. In fact, I learned how to make them with my boys’ cooking club, and if ten-year-old boys can make them as easily as they did then the rest of us have no excuse. I’ve had the pleasure of learning from Vanessa Yeung, an amazing chef, alongside my students over the past four years. From her I’ve learned a wonderful repertoire of fillings for my potstickers: chicken, shrimp, bison, pork and a variety of different vegetarian combinations. One of my favourite versions is this Chinese broccoli and Nappa cabbage filling with bamboo shoots and water chestnuts, though the version I am sharing with you today is inspired by a simple vegetable stir fry that I often serve with plain rice and maybe an Asian-style BBQ pork or chicken dish: mushrooms, bok choy, garlic and ginger. It’s an easy filling to make and a great way to get kids involved in food prep – have them chop the veggies and fill the dumplings too! Dumpling filling is always more fun with friends, so why not host a dumpling making (and eating!) party for Chinese New Year? For this recipe we’re using shop-bought wrappers, but it’s easy to make your own – and the Dumpling Sisters can show you how.
Vegetarian potsticker dumplings
Makes about 60 dumplings, using 3”x3” square wrappers Ingredients
- 1kg bok choy
- 300g mixed mushrooms
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger
- 6 spring onions, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- Approximately 60 wonton wrappers
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- Extra soy sauce (to serve)
Method Trim most of the dark green leaves from the bok choy, finely shred and set aside. Finely slice the light green/white part of the bok choy, and finely dice the mushrooms. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic and spring onions and sauté until fragrant (approximately 1 minute). Add the light green bok ckoy and mushrooms and sauté over medium-high heat until the mushrooms start release their liquid. Add about ½ of the shredded dark green bok choy leaves and continue to sauté the vegetable mix until all the liquid has evaporated, stirring constantly. Add the soy sauce and stir through the mixture. Remove the vegetable mixture from the heat. You’ll want to cool this down before you try to fill the dumplings. I like to either spread the mixture on a baking tray to cool down quickly or pour it into a metal sieve over a bowl. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl. Take a wonton wrapper and place about 1½ teaspoons of the vegetable mixture in the middle. Dip your finger in the cornstarch/ water mixture and run it around the edges of the wonton wrapper.
Fold the wrapper in halves, diagonally, forming a triangle. Gently press around the filling in the middle, pressing out any air pockets. Place the finished dumplings on a baking tray.
“Nurse’s Cap” dumplings
This lovely shape is very common, and very easy. Fold the wrapper in halves, diagonally, forming a triangle as above. Gently press around the filling in the middle, pressing out any air pockets. Take the corners from the “bottom” of the triangle and bring them together, sealing with a little extra cornstarch/ water mix. Place the finished dumplings on a baking tray. There are a number of ways to cook your dumplings, all of which produce great results – try them all and see which you prefer.
Bring a large pan of water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then add a few dumplings at a time. The dumplings are cooked when they rise to the surface of the water. Remove dumplings from water with a slotted spoon. Serve with soy sauce for dipping.
You will need a bamboo steamer for this method. Set a large, shallow skillet or wok, filled with about 2” water, over high heat. Make sure the pot is large enough to hold the bamboo steamer on top without the bottom of the steamer actually touching the water. Line your bamboo steamer with lettuce or cabbage leaves (this will make sure your dumplings don’t stick). Once the water is boiling, place the bamboo steamer on the wok or pan and allow the leaves wilt slightly. Add the dumplings, making sure they don’t touch each other (you will have to do a few batches or use a multi-layer steamer), cover and steam until done (around 8-10 minutes). Carefully remove dumplings from steamer and keep in a warm place until the whole batch is cooked.
Pan-fried dumplings (potstickers)
This method produces wonderful kind of dumpling nicknamed “potstickers” – literally because they stick to the bottom of the pan and get beautifully crispy, golden bottoms. To find out how to do this (and for a meatier filling, should you want it) have a look at Jamie’s lovely pork potstickers recipe. Enjoy, and make sure to try a few more wonderful Chinese recipes over the New Year!