My recipes for homemade Chinese dumplings

Every time I post a photo of handmade dumplings on Instagram, I get a LOT of interaction! People regularly ask for my recipes, both for the wrappers and for the fillings. Over the past few years I’ve developed my own recipes for six different fillings, which I’m going to share with you in this post. In a follow-up post I’ll talk about wrappers – how to make/buy them – and how to wrap your dumplings.

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A recent visit to my grandparents involved making 100 dunplings! Some to eat and some to freeze for later ;)

First off, a few notes on preparing your mixtures:

Chopping
Part of the secret to a good dumpling mixture is making sure all ingredients are very finely chopped. This is especially true of something firm, like water chestnuts, celery, or even mushrooms. Cabbage wilts so it’s less essential to chop it really finely, but the firm white stalks need to be well chopped. Ginger and garlic need to be chopped up to spread the flavour through the mixture – otherwise you might get one bland dumpling and one VERY flavourful one!

Mixing
A mixture that binds together well makes the best dumplings. The right blend of dry and wet ingredients is part of this. Another important hint is to mix it all together rigorously with a fork for 2-3 minutes before you start making the dumplings.

Fat content
Another aspect of binding mixtures is the fat content of the mince meat used. Traditionally, dumplings are made with a fairly fatty mince. This creates mixtures that bind well. If you want to use low-fat mince, you may need to add a little vegetable oil, or extra liquid and starch, to help get the right consistency.

And now – on to the recipes!!

I’m starting with the classic Pork-Cabbage. If you don’t know where to start, this is as good a place as any. Pork-Celery is probably my personal favourite – although I’ll happily eat any of them! Pork-Prawn-Ginger is a crowd favourite, but can be a bit of a temperamental mixture – it easily gets quite wet and sloppy (difficult to manage) and is the hardest to get the right cooking time on. I wouldn’t suggest trying this one on your first go. The Chicken-Mushroom filling is usually the biggest crowd-pleaser, and easier to manage. I also discovered while visiting family in the US recently that it works really well with turkey mince instead of chicken. Lamb-Carrot is my parents’ favourite, and is the most heavily seasoned. Beef-Carrot is my newest recipe, similar to the lamb, but inspired by my husband’s favourite dumplings at a local restaurant we eat at a lot.

Finally – feel free to experiment! If you don’t like, can’t eat or just don’t have a particular ingredient, skip it! I’ve included a few possible substitutions in the recipe notes below.

Notes on recipes:

  • Measurements: Australia and the US use different tablespoon measurements (20mL and 15mL respectively). I have no idea what the rest of the world does! For this reason I’ve left everything in teaspoons (5mL), and you can adjust to whatever size tablespoon you use (Australia = 4 tsp to one tbsp; US = 3 tsp to one tbsp).
  • Shaoxing: Chinese cooking wine (can substitute cooking sherry).
  • Soy sauce: I avoid using a low-salt soy sauce, because the salt flavour balances the flavour of the mixture. If you don’t have soy sauce, you can add straight salt (a quarter the listed amount of soy sauce). It won’t have the same flavour but the salt will help.
  • Spring onions/leek: Unly use the whites; you can substitute shallots or onion if they are very finely chopped. 1 stalk of spring onion (green onion) = 1-2 tsp of chopped onion/shallot.
  • Garlic: Should be peeled and finely minced; one clove = 1 tsp.
  • Ginger: I usually use a fine grater rather than mincing by hand. The downside to this is that the ginger can get quite wet and juicy – you may want to squeeze the excess moisture out before adding to the mixture. Mincing by hand cuts out this problem, but it’s more work!
  • Corn starch: Use any fine starch flour – tapioca, cornflour (Australian word for corn starch), potato starch (I often use this in China).
  • Cabbage: I use Chinese cabbage (also called Napa cabbage). Western style cabbage has a different texture; if you want to use it, you won’t need as much, and can use less starch.
  • Carrots: Grate coarsely with a grater; they don’t need to be pre-cooked.
  • Mushrooms: I prefer fresh shiitake mushrooms, both for flavour and consistency. You can use any kind of mushroom you like, though. A blend of white mushrooms with dried Chinese mushrooms will give an equivalent flavour/consistency.
  • Coriander leaves = cilantro in US English,
  • Prawns (shrimp): Don’t pre-cook; use green (raw) prawns. They need to be peeled, deveined, and coarsely chopped – about 1cm (half inch) cubes.

猪肉白菜 Pork and Cabbage

  • 500g pork mince
  • 4-6 cups cabbage
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp Shaoxing
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp corn starch

猪肉芹菜 Pork and Celery

  • 500g pork mince
  • 3 big stalks of celery
  • 1 spring onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8 tsp soy sauce
  • 6 tsp Shaoxing
  • 4 tsp sesame oil

猪肉鲜虾 Pork, Prawn, and Ginger

  • 300g prawns (shrimp)
  • 200g minced pork
  • 2 cups cabbage
  • 3 spring onions
  • ¼ cup ginger
  • 3 tsp soy sauce
  • 8 tsp sesame oil
  • 3 tsp corn starch

鸡肉香菇 Chicken and Mushroom

  • 500g chicken mince (or substitute turkey mince)
  • ¾ cup fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 small tin water chestnuts (about 230g/8oz)
  • ½ a leek (white part), finely sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8 tsp soy sauce
  • 4 tsp Shaoxing
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice
  • 8 tsp coriander leaves
  • 2 tsp corn starch

羊肉胡萝卜 Lamb and Carrot filling

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 2 large carrots
  • 3 spring onions
  • 4 tsp ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 10 tsp soy sauce
  • 6 tsp Shaoxing
  • 4 tsp sesame oil
  • 1½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander

牛肉胡萝卜 Beef and Carrot filling

  • 500g beef mince
  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 spring onions
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 8 tsp soy sauce
  • 6 tsp Shaoxing
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
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