How to make Chinese dumplings, step-by-step
Emma Chen of The Red Chamber restaurant in Joburg shares a recipe for her favourite Chinese New Year indulgence: pork dumplings
Approximately 40 dumplings
3 cups (360g) cake wheat flour
1 cup (250ml) cold tap water
600g pork mince
Bunch of celery, leaves removed (the ratio of celery to pork is up to you; use less for a more meaty filling)
Thick stem fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2-4 spring onions, finely chopped
Sesame oil, to taste
10ml (2 tsp) rice wine vinegar
25ml (5 tsp) soy sauce
15ml (1 tbsp) of pepper oil*
Step 1: make the dough
Place the flour on a kitchen surface or in a big bowl; using your hands or chopsticks, slowly blend in the cold tap water. More water might be needed, depending on the flour.
Knead with both hands until you have a fairly damp, workable dough.
Form into a ball and place in a bowl, cover with a damp cloth and leave to stand for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Step 2: make the filling
Place the pork mince onto a board and using a cleaver, finely chop the mince. Use the cleaver to fold one half of the meat over the other half and chop again. Place in a bowl and set aside.
Break the celery into pieces and pull off the tough outer strands. Chop into very fine pieces, sprinkle with salt and set aside.
Using your hands squeeze out all the liquid from the celery and add to the pork with the chopped ginger and spring onion.
Mix all ingredients together with chopsticks, working clockwise (a tip my mother taught me) as this keeps the meat more juicy.
Add as much sesame oil as you like, as well as a pinch of salt, the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and pepper oil.
Test the flavour of the mince by dropping a small ball in boiling water to cook. Remove, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Step 3: shape the dumplings
On a floured surface and with floured hands, shape the dough by squeezing it into an even sausage shape to form a loop.
Cut the loop in half, rolling it into two sausage shapes of even thickness. With a cleaver, cut the dough into uniform pieces, about 2cm thick.
Using both hands pick up the dough pieces and stand them on their sides. They should all be the same size so the cooking time is the same for all the dumplings.
Sprinkle the dough pieces lightly with flour.
Shape each piece of dough by pressing down lightly into a circular shape.
Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into a circle, turning the dough with your other hand and rolling in and out.
Make sure you leave a thicker section of dough in the centre where the meat filling will sit.
Using chopsticks place about 5ml (1 tsp) of filling (or more if desired) on the thicker area in the centre of the dough.
Bring the dough together by folding in half and pressing it together in the centre.
Working from right to left crimp the edges together. This shape is known as a sitting dumpling.
Step 4: cook the dumplings
Bring a large pot of water to the boil and cook dumplings in batches, taking care they do not overlap and stick together.
Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a serving plate. Don’t overcrowd the plate as the dumplings will stick together.
Serve with soy sauce, chopped fresh garlic, chilli sauce and Chinese brown vinegar. The New Year ritual is to drink the stock/soup in which the dumplings were cooked, which aids digestion.
* To make your own pepper oil, soak some black peppercorns in boiling water to release the flavour. Drain and store in a container filled with sunflower oil.