Chinese dumplings, specifically jiaozi, hold a special place in my heart. They would invoke memories of an early childhood, where my grandmother would make the dough from scratch and meticulously pleat each dumpling. Most of the time she would boil the dumplings, but every now and then she would also pan fry them to make guotie. As I grew older, I would experiment with different dipping sauces such as toasted sesame oil, chili oil or black rice vinegar. But my goto is just a basic, light soy sauce dip. The predominant flavour in these dumplings will come from the Chinese chives, which I absolutely love. We had these chives growing in our backyard and I transferred some bulbs over to my own garden after moving into my first house. And when it was time to harvest these chives, it meant time to host a dumpling party.
The filling in this recipe can be easily adapted to your tastes. My grandmother never bothered with most of the aromatics and only used salt and pepper to let the pork and chives speak for themselves. I find that a bit of mushroom pairs well with the pork and the sesame oil gives it a great flavour. Some people like adding grated ginger in as well but I find ginger to be a little distracting to my tastes. I also like my dumplings to be a bit on the larger side, so that it will take two or three bites to devour. Because it only takes a few minutes to cook, you can always make one dumpling and taste test it to make adjustments to seasonings, size or dough thickness.
Chinese Pork & Chive Dumplings
We'll be using a 60% hydration dough for the dumpling skins. When kneading the dough, keep in mind that the longer it gets kneaded, the more the gluten develops and it will result in a chewier dough. You can also use store bought wrappers if you're not feeling overly ambitious. The white pepper flavour can be overpowering to some, but it is a distinct flavour in Chinese cuisine that black pepper does not have. When choosing ground pork, choose regular or medium since it has a higher fat content than lean ground. To rehydrate dried shiitake mushrooms, place them in a bowl of water for two hours or until softened.
- Step 1
Place the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center of the flour. Add the water into the well and mix the dough by hand until everything comes together.
- Step 2
Place the dough on a work surface and knead it for 3 to 4 minutes. Ball up the dough, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
- Step 3
In a bowl, mix the chopped chives, chopped mushrooms and seasonings until thoroughly mixed. Add the ground pork and mix until well blended.
- Step 4
Slice a quarter of the dough ball off and cover the remaining dough with the plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out. Roll the quarter piece into a thick rope and then slice it at intervals. Each piece will become one dumpling skin, hence if the pieces are larger, then the dumplings become larger.
- Step 5
Roll a piece into a ball between the palms of your hand. Then press the ball down against the work surface to get a thick disc. Roll the piece into a flat round circle by pushing the rolling pin from the outside edge of the dough towards the center and back to the outside edge. Then rotate the dough piece slightly and repeat. Roll until circle is about 2 millimeters thick.
- Step 6
Spoon some filling into the center of the dough and then pleat into a dumpling shape. Repeat until all the dough or filling is depleted.
- Step 7
To cook, boil the dumplings in simmering water for about 5 minutes.