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Oct 22, 2005 03:17 AM

Chinese dumpling skins--some guidance needed

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I found a few recipes online, and the ingredients aren't a problem: flour, water, salt.

However, all the recipes are very vague in terms of describing what kind of dough I'm aiming for. Some say "hard dough," but what does that mean? So hard I can barely knead it? Certainly not so hard that it flakes apart, right? I assume not soft and spongey like a yeasted dough. Like pie crust? Shortbread? As you can tell, I'm totally lost.

Second question: has anyone done this in a stand mixer? I know the old-fashioned way is in a bowl with some chopsticks, but if someone else has done this successfully I'd be curious to try.

Lastly, what do people find to be the best flour? All-purpose? Bread? Thank you so much; I tried this one a few years ago and didn't like the results much. I'm a much better bread baker now and am hoping to parlay the experience with dough into dumpling making!


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  1. Think pasta-making, not bread-making. The harder the dough the better; a soft dough will make a sticky skin that is too limp to work with. With this little water relative to flour, it will take a while for the dough to come together, but do not be tempted to add more water.

    The recipe I use is simply 3 cups all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup water. This is about the same proportions as in the recipe you posted. However, no salt in my dumpling skins. Mom never uses any salt in hers either.

    I use a bread machine to do the kneading. The dough might be too stiff for some standard mixers.

    Let the dough rest after kneading and before rolling out into rounds, as this relaxes the gluten and makes it easier to work with.

    Roll out the skins using lots of flour on the work surface. Dust lots of flour in between the skins if you are stacking them up as you work, and don't stack too many for too long, to avoid sticking.

    Mom always rolls hers out into rounds with edges thinner than the center. She works the rolling pin over just the edges while turning the round. But mom is a perfectionist.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Browniebaker

      what other filling can be made besides the meat mixture that would hold up well in the dumplings

      1. re: Theresa

        Are you asking specifically about the turnover-type dumpling called jiao zi, like the OP, or are you asking about all the various Chinese dumplings?

        The traditional filling in jiao zi is a minced-pork filling, maybe with cabbage and/or Chinese chives in it.

        There are myriad styles of dumplings, with different skins varying in the type of flour used, the thickness of the skin, the shape of the skin, the leavening or lack thereof in the skin, the ingredients in the filling, the shape of the dumpling, and the method of cooking.

        The fillings used in other Chinese dumplings are several, and here are a few examples:

        diced chicken, bamboo shoot, and black mushrooms

        diced pork, bamboo shoot, and black mushrooms

        minced pork, water chestnuts, shrimp, carrots, and shallots

        cabbage and dried shrimp

        minced pork, Chinese chives, bamboo shoots

        shrimp and Chinese chives

        shrimp, lard, and bamboo shoot

        shrimp, pork, and shark fin

        Enough already? You'll find ideas in a Chinese cookbook. Just have fun and use whatever fillings you like.

        1. re: Browniebaker

          sounds good hopefully i can make some this weekend if i'm not babysitting for the grandchildren

          1. re: Theresa

            One common vegetarian option is also:

            chopped firm tofu
            chopped vermicelli noodles (pre-soaked in hot water)
            chopped something green (I like Chinese leeks, I've heard people use spinach sometimes)

            Make sure everything is room temperature or colder. Mix a bowl of this with a beaten egg(I'm going to say a quart per egg?). Salt and pepper to taste. This mix is harder to work with because you can't shape it into a ball, but it results in a very nice vegetarian filling.

    2. I have never try making dumpling but have purchased them frozen and cooked as needed. But if you are in Oakland in the morning there is a lady making dumplings in the window at Shan Dong that is just a show itself. She rolls the dough and is so quick that I lose my desire to make them myself. But if you get there early enough or am just lucky you may get to see you make the dough or if you buy some dumpling you can ask you now you need to knead the dough. I know that you have to complete the wrapping in one pass or the dough will not be right. This was a tip my Mother give me.

      Well maybe something for me to try next.

      1. I make Chinese dumplings every holiday season. I take great care with the filling. Maybe it's a shame, but I just buy the pre-made dumpling skins in the produce section. I didn't have much luck making my own, and I really LIKE the store-bought ones. **blushing**

        2 Replies
        1. re: Susan

          At the risk of being deleted for discussing widely available brands, do you use New Hong Kong? That's what I use. I love it, but I want to experiment with making my own for a change in texture.

          1. re: nooodles

            Honestly - I have no idea. I live in a large town/small city. There's only one kind available usually, and I just pick it up. Sorry - wish I could help.

        2. Buy the skins - all of China does. The brand really doesn't matter (I tend to go for local brands, if only to support local ethnic diversity), as long as they're just flour/water/salt, but the style does: thicker ones for "free-standing" dumplings and wontons, paper-thin ones for wontons to be put in soup.

          The "skins" that have to be made at home are the translucent rice-flour style, that cannot be bought.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Wayne Keyser

            Actually, for wontons to be used in soup, the dark colored skins treated with potassium carbonate are superior if you like the Hond Kong-style snap.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              I just want to point out that the OP was inquiring about making skins for jiao zi, not for won tons. Won ton skins are sqaure and very thin, while jiao zi skins are round and not so thin.

              1. re: Browniebaker

                Yes, that's the OP's question. But my comment was in response to Wayne's advice regarding won ton skins.

                And, don't forget sui gow skins which are round and very thin. I often use these instead of "potsticker" wrappers because I prefer the thinness and I can wrap more dumplings per pound of wrappers.

                P.S. I'm using the terminology of the manufacturers such as New Hong Kong in the San Francisco where the OP resides.

            2. re: Wayne Keyser

              It's not true that "all of China" buys dumpling skins instead of making them. Lots of good home cooks insist on making their own. Restaurants often make their own; a restaurant's reputation can be made on its dumpling skins.

              It's the same as with Italian pasta, flaky American pie pastry, French choux pastry, and other foods that require some skill or effort to make: many people buy them ready-made but, undeniably, many make them from scratch.

            3. Growing up with family that eats home made jaozi every week, I consider myself pretty knowledgeable on this subject. You definitely want to use all-purpose flour for making jaozi. Bread flour is usually made for yeast based green onion pancake (with sesame at the top). Not sure what you mean by hard dough, but the dough should be soft. Usually 3 ½ cups of flour to 1 ½ cup of water (doesn’t have to be very cold). We don’t add the salt as it’s not necessary and you really can’t taste it.

              As for using mixer, absolutely you can use a dough hook and mix for about 5 min. The dough should be rough and not smooth after taking out of the mixer. Cover with a towel and let it rest for 20 min for the gluten to develop. After 20 min, knead the dough with the palm of your hands by pushing down and forward. Knead it for additional 5 min or until the dough is smooth. Let it rest covered again for 10 min. The dough should be ready to use.

              2 Replies
              1. re: theSauce

                Just want to add to my post. Whether you use a mixer or food processor to make the dough, don't worry if it does not form into a dough ball after 3-5 min of mixing. The mixture will be a little dry and in many little pieces at this point. After you dump it out on your counter, just use your hands to form it into a round shape rough dough. The key is letting it rest, after the first rest you will notice the dough will be a little softer and easy to knead.

                I find that the food processor seems to be easier and less messier than mixer.

                1. re: theSauce

                  Thank you so much, this was exactly the kind of info I needed. Only with homemade dumpling skins will I be able to embark on the path to jiaozi godhood, which to me means the ability to seal a jiaozi using only one hand.

                  Skin in left palm, slap in filling with a spoon held in the right hand, squeeze fingers of left hand against left palm, voila! It never ceases to amaze me, and is impossible unless you have fresh dough.