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Mar 24, 2009 09:29 AM

Help with Chinese Dumplings recipe

I am attempting to make chinese style dumplings (homemade wrappers and all) and I am looking at several recipes and there are so many variations for the flour to water ratio and the use of hot or cold water. I'm leaning towards 4 cups flour and 2 cups hot water, kneaded for about 20 min. I want a soft, light dumpling with a little chew....nothing too dense and heavy. Would those ratios produce such a product?

Also, if i were to assemble the dumplings, filling and all, and then refrigerate them and boil them off like 6 hours later would that be a huge problem? I want to make them during the day but eat them for dinner.

Any wisdom on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

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  1. jiaozi, jiaozi, jiaozi jiaozi, jing jing jing

    sorry, couldn't resist

    3 Replies
      1. re: alkapal

        In mandarin, chinese dumplings are jiaozi. OMG are they good!(hen hao)

        1. re: kandmls

          and jing jing jing is just your happy sound? ;-).

    1. My advice is actually gonna be contradictory to your question, but here it is... don't do homemade dumpling skins (and yes, skin is the proper Mandarin to English translation) unless one of the following things is true:

      - You have someone that is very experienced in making them to teach you and judge the final product, in person.
      - You have ABSOLUTELY no choice in the matter, ie the only choice in pre-made skins is from some non-Asian supermarket or you are forced to for a cooking class that requires everything to be made completely from scratch.

      The reason I say this is very simple, a properly made skin is not easy to do... at all. It needs to be strong enough to hold in the meat while simultaneously being thin enough that you should be able to distinguish the little flecks of whatever vegetable you are using from the outside. The balance required to make great skins is hard to master your first few times, you probably will have to do it around 3-4 times to actually get it right if you don't have someone on hand to teach you. The closest western food equivalent in balance/difficulty would probably be a traditional gnocchi.

      I would seek out your local Asian grocery store and buy pre-made skins from there. If you don't know of one, ask an Asian person you know. You know you're in the right place when you're in a place that smells like fish and something else you can't put your finger on, most of the people there aren't speaking in English, and there are no more than 10 white people there at any given time. Once you locate such an establishment, you should be able to find premade skins. If the ones they have are imported, always choose ones made in Taiwan over the ones made in China. Why? Taiwan cares what people put in food products, China doesn't. But if possible, get ones made semi-locally.

      As for making the dumplings beforehand, if you are gonna refrigerate them, plastic wrap em to keep in the moisture. Also, if you want to, you can make a large batch and freeze em. As long as you take measures to prevent freezer burn, they can keep for at least a month or two.

      1 Reply
      1. re: angrychineseguy

        actually I made them totally from scratch and they turned out really well, almost as good as this awesome dumpling place in my area. I made two batches. A hot water dough for pot stickers and a cold water dough for boiled dumplings. They were ugly and a number of them were too thick, but I think next time I will get some help and this will definitely become a monthly activity, especially in the colder months when i crave dumplings. Hopefully I'll just get better with practice.

      2. what a coincidence! i made some dumplings yesterday for dinner. we made our own skins with cold water and flour. I think, if i remember correctly (may be the other way around), that cold water produces a harder dough and hot/warm water produces a softer dough. Usually we use cold water for dumplings since it makes it stretchier and therefore it is easiler to roll thinner and it is sturdier. the softer dough we would use for scallion pancakes.

        i personally prefer the handmade dough because it is easiler to assemble than the premade stuff (just pinch and go, no wet sticky pastry brush).

        to make the dough, it is important to have someone show you because it is generally by feel. i'm rather young, and i know only of what my mother and grandmother taught. Maybe my version is a half-as*ed version because chinese people does not like to document or measure...

        put a generous amount of flour in a large bowl (i'd say perhaps 5+ cups) fit large bowl in the sink (because i'm short). make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in around a half cup of water, start stiring the flour mixture with your hand so that the water clumps up the dough in strings. continue to drizzle more water until the dough is evenly distributed with moist clumps but don't let it get too wet. there should be plenty of dry flour pieces in the bottom. knead the dough in the bowl until it forms a cohesive mass. the dough is usually has dry spots and cracks. knead a few time on the board and clean off the crumbs in the bowl. put the dough back in the bowl, cover with wet paper towel/towel and let it sit for around 30-45 min, until it feels like the dough has become more hydrated.

        knead the dough for several minutes so that some of the gluten develops in the dough.

        use the extra dough for scallion pancakes =)

        1. oh yeah. we freeze ours too. just put on floured sheet pan and freeze for a few hours, toss them in a baggie for a few weeks.

          1. Based on angrychineseguy and jeniyo's responses I feel quite satisfied about buying the skins at the Asian market - I had no idea! (Unless - are they better than store bought? Can you use a pasta maker?)

            To CM - you probably know this already but the dumplings tend to stick so use corn starch and store them flat on a cookie sheet (the same method for freezing too).

            3 Replies
            1. re: alwayscooking

              I see no reason why you couldn't use a pasta press during the final part of the process, but I would not suggest an automated unit. Like jeniyo said, skins are more of an art based on touch rather than a standard recipe.

              But on the storage side of things, I would say use a plate instead of a cookie sheet. While in the end both are perfected fine storage surfaces, plates are better for one reason... portioning. One large plate is generally enough for 2-3 people. In my family, we would make two plate's worth at a time for 3 people. 1-1.2 plates would be finished on the first night, the other would be finished for lunch or dinner the next day.... right about the time when the sauce finally starts to get good.

              For a sauce, combine soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil in a 5:2:1 ratio. To that, add garlic (crushed only for a sauce that will sit for a longer period, crushed and minced for a short term sauce) and any other spices you want. Let the sauce sit for at least 2-3 hours. At the 8 hour mark, the garlic starts to really get worked in there; at the 48 hour mark is when it gets really good though.

              1. re: angrychineseguy

                I spent a good amount of time testing recipes for a new book on Asian dumplings last summer. It will be out in the fall. With the hot water dough I found that my tortilla press was my best friend. I introduced that to a Vietnamese friend who was over the moon after trying her own skins with my press. I had to order tortilla presses for her, her sister and mom. It makes it a snap. She could not believe how quick and easy it was.

              2. re: alwayscooking

                There is no comparison, really. The store-bought dough is thin (almost as thin as a good wonton skin), will cook up translucent (but eaten more al dente than wonton skins), and (of course) very even. The handmade ones are thicker (haven't tried the torilla press option, but even a very experienced dumpling maker can't get them as thin, using a short dowel rolling pin), they aren't as see-through (probably because they are thicker), and have interesting surface texture (and better tooth/chewiness). Dough should be pretty soft and easy to work with after resting, if you have put in the right about of water to begin with. Wish Chinese grandmothers used a scale, so you could have the hydration info, but it's typically eyeballed. The hot water dough / cold water dough debate is a long-standing and fairly personal decision.

                Personally, I like the handmade ones much better, but it's a real chore rolling them immediately before wrapping, especially by yourself. Great for a group project if you have extra hands around. They are easier to pan-fry direct from frozen, you brown them in a little oil, straight from the freezer, pour in a little boiling water, then cover tightly to steam and when the water has all evaporated and the tops are cooked, you uncover and let the bottoms crisp up. And I've kept them a lot longer than a couple months, zip bagged in the freezer.