Food is always a great way to celebrate the new year, and dumplings are the most common new year’s dish that my family makes. According to ChefOneFoods, the Chinese dumpling was likely “invented” by medicine practitioner Zhang Zhongjing during the Eastern Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). Zhang was helping people who suffered from the harsh winter. He boiled mutton with herbs before wrapping them in dough and then cooked them. And that was the first dumpling. Because the dough wrapping looked like the shape of an ear, there is this saying that eating dumplings prevents your ears from getting frostbite.
Both eating and making dumplings are largely communal efforts; it is a fun way for families to bond and eat a meal home-made together, especially during winter. This is my mom’s recipe for pork and veggie dumplings, and I encourage you to try it out!
Pork and Veggie Dumplings
Cooking time: 2 – 3 hours
1.1lb of flour
1 cup of warm water
OR 1 – 2 packs of dumpling wrappers. Each pack typically contains 50 wrappers.
1 lb of ground pork
Four green bell peppers
1 rolling pin
Chopsticks or stick-like utensil
Dumpling rolling panels or other clean, flat surface to roll dough
If you choose to use dumpling wrappers, skip to Preparing Filling.
Add warm water to flour. Use chopsticks/other utensils or your hands to mix while pouring the water until the mixture becomes dough-like. You won’t use all of the water.
Put the chunk of dough in a large bowl. Cover the dough with a piece of wet cloth. Leave the dough for 30 min.
Unfrost the ground pork if needed.
Dice the peppers, carrot, and corn into very small pieces (around the size of ¼ of your index fingernail).
Put the ground pork and the diced vegetables into a large bowl. Add in 3 tablespoon of soy sauce and mix them together. Stir until well mixed.
Encouraged: To test the flavour, put a small portion of the filling for 30 seconds (or until cooked) in the microwave and test the taste. Adjust the amount of soy sauce based on preference.
Folding and Cooking
Skip to step 5 if using dumpling wrappers. Make sure to dab the edges of the wrappers with water to soften them.
Prepare 1 cup of dry flour and some cold water on the side.
Cut the prepared dough into four equal pieces. Roll each piece of the dough into a long cylinder with a diameter of 4 cm (1.6 in). Add in pinches of dry flour to make the dough less sticky.
Cut each cylinder into smaller pieces that are 2 cm (0.8 in) long.
Use a rolling pin to roll the small pieces of dough into thin circles with around 8 cm (3.1 in) diameters. Add in pinches of dry flour as you roll to make the dough less sticky. (look at the picture for reference)
Put in 1 full spoon of filling into the dumpling skin. Fold the two sides together to form a taco shape.
Then, starting from the center, fold the dumpling towards the middle according to the image steps provided. Make sure that the dumplings are airtight. (You don’t have to make 100% beautifully folded dumplings to enjoy. Just make sure the dumpling is tightly sealed. Dab your fingers in water while pinching to seal.)
Put the dumplings in boiling water in a pot. Depending on the size of your pot, you might have to divide the dumplings into several batches.
Put on the cover of the pot and wait until the water boils and steam pushes against the cover. Then, add in a bowl of cold water and put the cover back on to wait for the water to boil again. Repeat this process 3 times. A well cooked dumpling should have semi-translucent skin.
A Note on Dipping Sauce
You can eat dumplings with or without dipping sauce. For those who want to eat with dipping sauce, you can literally eat it with almost any sort of sauce. Two common ones are black vinegar and soy sauce.