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Jan 9, 2010 06:13 AM

Chinese Pork Dumplings

I'm looking for a recipe for Chinese pork dumplings, either steamed or fried, and a dipping sauce to go with them. Also, I need a bit of instruction about how to form the dumplings. I'll be using pre-made dumpling wrappers. Thanks for your help!

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  1. Fried Chinese dumplings are typically known as "Pot Stickers". They're similar to Gyoza (which is an adaptationof the Pot Sticker) from Japan.


    33 Replies
    1. re: todao

      More Information...

      The noticeable differences between the two sources from my perspective is:

      * Coarse Chopped as opposed to Finer Chopped Ingredients

      * The video shows more of a soup/won ton wrapped dumpling. while the pictures show a Fried or Steamed Potsticker wrapped dumpling fold...Although the pictures show fresh made dough for the instruction, you would use the same method with a commercially bought ROUND dumpling wrapper, not a square one as in the video.

      Personally, I do not sweat the vegetables and cool before making my dumplings, as I prefer to use the finer chopped or shredded vegetables for my fried dumpling. If you intend to use more vegetables like a cabbage or spinach, you may want to pre-cook your vegetables to get the water out. Here's another perspective...

      Last, if you decide to try the potsticker only pleat one side, you don't pinch both side together for a proper fold, but either way, they will taste the same for your first attempt.

      Boiled dumplings...

      1. re: todao

        Gack!! Please do not fold your dumplings as shown in that second video. Dumplings should be carefully pleaded, not just squeezed like it's some ragdag pouch.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Squeezing is fine. I've known home cooks that do it this way.

          1. re: KTinNYC

            Squeeze, and you're making won tons, not dumplings.

            Dumplings, pleat and fold, striving for a crescent fan shape.

              1. re: ipsedixit


                My mom, my grandmother and everyone in my family pleat the dumplings are you mentioned, but I also know other people simply fold/squeeze the dough/skin. Oh yeah, they definitely do this to pork dumpling and not wonton.

          2. re: todao

            I was never aware of the distinction between "dumplings" and "pot stickers"; I always thought the terms were interchangeable. Thanks for that tidbit of info.

            1. re: CindyJ

              All Potstickers are dumplings, however, not all dumplings are Potstickers. There's also the following for steamed and boiled Chinese dumplings made with a round wrapper.:

              Siu Gow

              Har Gow are made with a rice flour, never wheat flour, as are most seafood varieties of Dim Sum Dumplings.

              There are also many Dim Sum Varieties for dumplings with other proteins such as shrimp, beef and chicken. A true Chinese Potsticker uses a dough wrapper that does not contain egg and is thicker skinned than the typical wonton wrappers. Xaio Long Boa, also known as *Soup Dumplings* are also made with a thick or thin flour wrap and then steamed.

              Korean dumplings are called ManDoo

              1. re: fourunder

                Technically, neither shumai nor sui gow are dumplings.

                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Technically, are you claiming dispute by definition or semantics?

                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      By whose definition? Please provide your source for reference that states claim neither shumai or sui gow are not dumplings, to put this to rest and no further debate.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        Chinese dumplings, strictly speaking, are 餃子 and are of Northern Chinese origin.

                        Shumai (and hargow) are a Cantonese creation from the southern regions of China.

                        No one would consider a shumai to be a 餃子.

                        It would be like saying a hamburger is a sandwich simply because it's got two pieces of bread like product with a meat product in the middle.

                        It's that same type of sloppy thinking that leads people to consider xiao long bao to be dumplings, or jongzi (粽子) to be dumplings. They are not. Simply because a mixture of ground meat and veggies is wrapped in some type of dough (or bamboo or seaweed and sticky rice in the case of jongzi) does not make it automatically a Chinese dumpling.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Excuse my ignorance, but what do the Chinese characters mean? Are they from a Chinese reference book or dictionary?

                          1. re: fourunder

                            No need to excuse your ignorance, the Chinese characters are the literal translations of the English words.

                            Without understanding the Chinese meaning or characters of dumplings, it will be hard to understand why something like shumai or hargow are not dumplings.


                          2. re: ipsedixit

                            btw, I do not follow your logic with the burger.....a burger can be ordered and eaten without bread or a bun...and it is still called a burger,l yes....but when you accept it with a bun, which is a form of bread, a burger is a type of sandwich in any dictionary.

                            Any meat or other protien/vegetable normally filled dumpling( a dough wrapper), if ordered without the dough wrapper is, or becomes, a meatball.

                            I have never seen in print, heard any one ever call a jongzi a dumpling. Maybe a tamale, but not a dumpling.

                            1. re: ipsedixit

                              A hamburger is a sandwich in my book.

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                The xiao long bao we ate last night were referred to on the menu and by our hostesses as dumplings. This being a Northern Chinese establishment all of the wrappers (and of course all the noodles) were wheat. I do not read Chinese characters at all, but I have always been under the impression that "bao" was a dumpling, though of course the steamed raised ones are usually referred to as "buns".

                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  No, baos are not dumplings. They are, as you surmised, buns.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    ...and the distinction between a dumpling and a bun is...???

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        So why do xiao long BAO come in plain unrisen-dough skins? Did some idiot mis-name them?

                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                          Dunno if misname is the right way to put it, as it probably has more to do with provincial differences (Shanghai v. Beijing) in nomenclature.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            In my mind XLB are in a league all their own. When I think of the word bao, despite XLB having it in their name, the imagery just doesn't fit. It's like a weird cross between a jiaozi and a bao. Bao are also just an evolution of mantou.

                                            1. re: taiwanesesmalleats


                                              This is really a case of "something lost in translation".

                                              In Chinese, "bao" can either be a verb (to wrap) or a noun (a bun).

                                              The word "bao" or 包 as used in XLB or 小籠包 can be loosely (and I mean loosely) ascribed as the verb form.

                                              The word "bao" or 包子 as used in Char Sui Bao is the noun form.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                That is the explanation I've been waiting for. Also very cool to see the word Mantou; I enjoy seeing how names of foods get modified going from one language or dialect to another, and mantou=mandu (or mandoo) is a nice example. Any others will probably have to be cited over on the General Topics board...

                                                1. re: Will Owen

                                                  I still don't understand. The dough in XLB isn't risen, so aren't they dumplings, not buns? Sorry to be dense.

                                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                                    No, you're not being dense.

                                                    As I mentioned up thread, this *is* really a case of something being lost in translation.

                                                    Let's look at the XLB and Dumpling dichotomy from another angle. Literally.

                                                    Look at an XLB. Then look at a dumpling.

                                                    They look different, right?

                                                    XLB are generally round and pinched on top.

                                                    Dumplings are generally crescent shaped and pinched in a fan shape.

                                                    While you might consider this merely a superficial difference, in cultural terms this is a distinct difference with some significance.

                                                    So to summarize.

                                                    Bao = looks like XLB made with risen dough
                                                    XLB = round and pouchy, not made with risen dough
                                                    Dumpling = crescent shaped, not made with risen dough

                                                    Hope that eases the confusion just a centimeter or so! :-)

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Oh, so in their case it's not a risen dough question, it's a shape question. Right?

                                                      1. re: tatamagouche

                                                        In part yes; it's the shape.

                                                        But don't forget the filling difference between a dumpling and an XLB. The latter has "soup"; the former does not.

                                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                                          Right. Hence the point that these are sort of in a category of their own...I think I got it now.

                                                  2. re: Will Owen

                                                    Mantou is not a dumpling, mantou is a steamed flour bun. An example you might like is Jiaozi=gyoza

                  1. Well, I did make pork pot stickers (NOT dumplings!) last night, and I must say, I was really pleased with the result, considering this was my first attempt. It took a bit of practice getting those pleats right, but I did get the hang of it after about a half-dozen weird-looking attempts. I used a recipe I found on Epicurious ( that had Napa cabbage (chopped, salted, water squeezed out), scallions, carrots and several other ingredients mixed into the not-too-lean ground pork.

                    What surprised me was the cooking method. For as many times as I've ordered pot stickers in restaurants, I never gave much thought to how they're actually cooked. The method of saute-then-steam cooked them perfectly.

                    I froze the (uncooked) leftovers. Now I'm not sure if I have to let them defrost before cooking them, or if I cook them still frozen.

                    12 Replies
                      1. re: CindyJ

                        If these are something you're going to make again, I'd recommend a dumpling press. Makes the assembly go so much faster.

                        1. re: jules1026

                          ANOTHER kitchen gadget????? I never knew there was such a thing!

                          1. re: jules1026

                            Okay... so I just Googled "dumpling press" and from what I can see, the shape of the dumpling that comes from the press would not qualify as "authentic" because it has pleats on both sides. Is it better to be a purist, or a more efficient cook?

                            1. re: CindyJ

                              IMO, they don't taste any differently if they're pleated on both sides. :) Although it looks like quite the discussion !

                              1. re: jules1026

                                I have a feeling that ipsedixit and fourunder might take exception with the double-sided pleats of the dumpling press. :-)

                                1. re: CindyJ


                                  Personally, I believe they both taste the same and you should do what works for you. The dumpling presses I have seen in the past are too small and lightweight to be worth using(I purchased one without knowing any better). I actually find they take longer to use. As for the weight, when you fold the top half over, it really doesn't fold easily and you have to play to make it perfect. Also if you have arthritic hand issues, it's definitely a waste on both time and money investment. The key to making a good dumpling (or ravioli) is to make sure there are no air pockets. That's tough to do with a dumpling press from my .experience The poor choice for presses I am talking about are this link:


                                  If you plan to make dumplings in the get better at it very just have to master the pleat and pinch. If I can do it, anyone can.......and who really wants to wash another kitchen item.

                                  Lastly, I would agree one one sided pleating and two sided pleating would taste the same, however, if you do not put enough filling into the dumpling, the top fold may be too much dough....and depending on the type of wrapper you are using and the method you decide to use to cook (pan fry & steam or steamed in a bamboo steamer) the dumplings will be affected by texture. I find the commercially purchased dumpling and wonton wrappers do not full get fully cooked and soft if the fold has too much wrapper on top.

                                  1. re: fourunder

                                    I was perfecting my pleat-and-pinch technique as I went along the other night. When I first started, I pinched the center shut, then I made two pleats to the right of the center, then two pleats to the left. That was working pretty well, so I added one more pleat on each side, but I ran into trouble, so I created a "hybrid" that I was very happy with. It went something like this: (1)small pinch in the center, (2) center-facing pleat on the right, (3) another center-facing pleat on the right, (4) fold the right corner up in the direction of the center. Then I did the same thing on the left side of the center pinch. And then I flattened the bottom a little so it would stand up. I hope that makes sense. Anyway, I was quite pleased with the result.

                                    1. re: CindyJ


                                      Congrats, sounds like the student has passed the teacher.

                                      1. re: fourunder

                                        It was fun. I remember learning to make wontons a gazillion years ago, but the wrappers were square and the folding was totally different. I think I've (re)discovered a new rainy/snowy day activity.

                            2. re: jules1026

                              Ohh I dunno about dumpling presses.

                              When I was a kid (I was probably 7 or 8), my mom put us to work folding dumplings. We are talking about hundreds of them (no worries about child labor violations, it was all for our own consumption). She got one of those presses to "help" us along. It didn't work for us at all. You have to be really precise with the amount of filling per wrapper, else it would burst. And you have to use the right size wrappers.

                              It took some practice but we eventually "graduated" to become dumpling folding machines when we no longer needed a spoon for the filling (used chopsticks) or water (to seal the dumpling), like mom did! Hmmm come to think of it, that was the last time I saw mom wrapping dumplings...afterwards she just did the filling, pop it in front of us, with the wrappers, we would do it while watching tv.

                              Oooh I guess my point is...the dumpling press is not worth it..doing it by hand is easy with practice, but the easiest way is to train your children to do it while they are young. I bet that dumpling press is still at the bottom of some drawer in my parent's kitchen.

                              1. re: gnomatic

                                Love the story! Thanks for the laugh!

                          2. I do have a few more questions about the saute-then-steam method I used for cooking these potstickers. I used a non-stick saute pan but I added waaaaay too much oil in the beginning for the saute part. When the next step in the recipe said to add about 1/4 cup of water to the pan, I knew I'd be in trouble, and I was really afraid of what might happen, so I emptied just about all of the oil from the pan before I added the water. Even then there was a great deal of spattering. In the end, the potstickers were cooked quite nicely, but the cooktop and counters were an oily mess.

                            So my questions are -- how much oil should I start with, and what's the best way to introduce the water for the steaming part? Do you ever use a deeper pot instead of a saute pan? Also, my recipe called for browning only the bottoms of the potstickers. Do you ever brown the sides as well?

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: CindyJ


                              Unlike others, I do not have a problem using a non-stick surface. The amount of oil you ultimately use is relative to the type of pan you use, the size of the pan, and the dough, egg or nor. Traditional flour dough absorbs more oil than the commercial egg dumpling wrap. there are non-egg commercial wraps, but they are very thin and will not absorb oil as much as a fresh homemade dough. .... now with a non stick flat fry pan with cover, here's what I would do:

                              1. Hot pan on medium flame
                              2 Add 1-2 Tablespoons of oil for up 15-16 potstickers, larger amounts in larger pan, more oil
                              3. Place dumplings (sorry Ipsedixit) in oil
                              4. Create a crust, but give a shake to make the dumplings slide in the pan, 4-5 minutes.
                              5. Cover the pan leaving a .5-1.0 inch opening to pour in the 1/4 cup of water. This should remedy your problem with oil splatter on the stove. The amount of water you use should not rise too far up the sides of the dumplings....if so, you will lose your brown crusty bottom. As the water evaporates and you begin to hear the sizzle again, check your dumpling to see if the wrappings have become translucent. If not, you can add some more water at this time and continue cooking for a couple of more minutes. The total time to cook dumplings is about 10 minnutes for the filling to be completely cooked. When you remove the cover after the steam period, cook the dumplings uncovered for another minute to crisp them up.

                              As for your query on whether to crisp up more than one side.....for a potsticker/fried dumpling, you would not in the traditional sense, but there is no reason why you could not make a sui gow dumpling shape, which is a half moon/crescent shape without pleats. You simply place the filling in the wrapper skin and fold over and seal the edges with an egg wash or water....much like a Kreplach triangle. Since this shape is thin, you can flatten both sides and pan fry both sides for more texture.

                              I would never use a pot for fried dumplings, only boiled. I would use a Wok, but nature of design, you would need to use more oil due to the well created at the bottom. I place the dumplings halfway into the oil around in a circle. By the time you place all your dumplings in the Wok, the volume of dumplings displaces the oil and reaches the outer edges of the oil to crisp. In a wok, I would not shake to loosen or slide the dumplings. When adding water, I cover the Wok and simply add the water......which flows between the cover and wok into the oil splatter.

                              Last, when I purchase frozen dumplings, I will not care much about appearance and presentations....I shake the pan and often brown more than one side.....however the dumplings fall.

                              1. re: CindyJ

                                You can take a look at Maangchi's video for Korean mandu


                                1. re: CindyJ

                                  I am a firm believer in the reverse method, which is steam-then-fry.

                                  1. Start with 1/2 inch of cold water plus 1Tb oil in a cold non-stick frying pan.
                                  2. Bring the water + oil to a boil (together) on high heat.
                                  3. Quickly lay the potstickers in neat overlapping rows in the shallow boiling water.
                                  4. Cover with lid and let it boil & steam for one minute.
                                  5. Remove the lid and let the water boil off & evaporate. (see photo attached)
                                  Only the oil and the potstickers will be left, and there is no need to add oil at this point.
                                  6. Let the pan dry out and lower the heat to medium. The potsticker bottoms will start to brown.
                                  7. Flip the entire group of potstickers on to a platter - do this by inverting a platter over the fry pan, holding them both together, and turning them upsidedown in one smooth motion.

                                  Photos attached.

                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                    The first time I bought frozen potstickers at the Chinese market, the manager told me not to follow the directions on the bag (I don't even remember what it said), but to lay them flat side down in a pan with a little hot oil, then add water about a third of the way up the sides of the dumplings, cover the pot, and listen for the sizzle, then uncover, and remove when the bottoms are crisp and brown. That's always worked for me, and there has been very little spatter.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      Are you saying you put the potstickers into the pan before the oil/water have heated up? And your potstickers end up nice and brown on the bottom and the tops aren't overcooked? If that works well, it may solve the one big problem I've been having with these (and I've made them three times now), namely, the awful splattering that occurs when the water is added to the hot oil. No matter how carefully I pour the water down the side of the pan, or how quickly I get the cover on, it's always left a huge, greasy mess on and around the cooktop.

                                      I'd love to hear from others who use this method; it makes so much sense to me, at least on "paper". I wonder why, given the number of recipes I reviewed before I made potstickers the first time, I haven't seen this method before. Well, I'm going to write a note on my recipe and try this method the next time.

                                      1. re: CindyJ

                                        Sorry I wasn't more clear - I don't really know, so many years on, what exactly the guy said in terms of heating up the pan. I have an electric cooktop and use a nonstick pan - I turn the heat on med-high and spread a little oil on the pan, they lay in the frozen potstickers. I pour in the water (right from tap to cup, so cool/cold) and slap on the lid. The water does bubble and spit a little, but I don't think there's any more spatter than frying a couple of pieces of bacon. Maybe the difference is that I am using frozen dumplings and yours are fresh.

                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          If anything, I'd think the frozen dumplings would be more prone to spattering because of bits of ice that might clinging to them.

                                          What I was really questioning was whether the dumplings were placed in the pan before the water and oil got hot enough to start spitting.

                                  2. i put pork, sacallion, ginger, sesame oil and pre made cole mix in mine (carrots, cabbage).
                                    I boil then pan fry.

                                    1. Please watch this video

                                      and then read this post


                                      for some really great info.

                                      Man I love that video.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: kookiegoddess

                                        That's a GREAT video. Thanks! Do you know of a link to a video that shows the saute/steam part of the cooking?

                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                          I don't know of a good video off hand but if you go to the Use Real Butter blog she has some good tips explaining how to do it, and her commenters seem to have success with her methods. Good luck!

                                          1. re: CindyJ

                                            Although she is using pre packaged gyoza, the cooking technique shown works well for pan fried.


                                            1. re: hannaone

                                              I really like that cooking method and I will definitely try it the next time I make gyoza. Putting the oil and the water in the pan at the same time definitely cuts down on the splattering mess that comes from adding water to the hot pan after the gyoza have been frying. I have to say, I'm usually a bit more precise about placing my dumplings into the pan, with the pleated edges facing upward to that the bottoms brown nicely, and I'll continue to do that.

                                              Thanks again for this link!