My husband and I ,have our favorite Chinese restaurant in city and we often order ‘shrimp Har Gau’ from the Dim Sum menu.My kids love dipping it in soy sauce and can eat it pretty quick.Har Gau,Jiaozi,Gyoza,sui mai,guo tie to name some, are chinese /Japanese dumpling collectively.Naming differencs indicates the subtlety of the dish at various level.Like How it is cooked?Boiled vs steamed vs pan-fried .What kind of flour is used,wheat Vs Tapioca Vs I don’t know?How it is closed ?pleated Vs coin purse.How it is served?Soy sauce vs Oyster Sauce Vs chef imagination.How thick or thin skin are?Translucent vs thick.
So when i found out that my friend Ethel is expert in making Jiaozi,i couldn’t wait to know her secrets. The dish also brings many memories of her mom making this family favorite and is now one of our mother’s day special.Her parents immigrated to US decades ago from Taiwan.She is born and brought up here.Her parents being so far at home away from home, brought the taste of Taiwanese/Chinese cuisine to their dinner table.This is what Ethel has to say about it.
“As for my family, we grew up eating mostly simple Chinese dishes…stir fries and saute with meat and veggies. Always with rice, sometimes fried rice or noodles. The fancier or more traditional dishes rarely happened since my parents were super busy with us three kids, plus the Asian ingredients that were available in grocery stores were very limited back then compared to now.Comfort foods and cravings for me are definitely primarily foods that I had growing up. Fried rice, dumplings, egg rolls, soups; but also Kraft Mac n cheese (yep, the stuff in the blue box…I love my five star dining, but I ALWAYS have a box of Kraft in the back of my pantry for one of “those” days :-),Little Debbie snacks, all sorts of yummy sugary processed foods 🙂
Dumplings are one of my favorite comfort foods from my childhood. My mom used to make it when we had crowd of people over for dinner, usually after church service or at church event. Everyone pitched in to make the dumplings so it took very little time to get food on the table. I think a lot of my love for this dish comes from the memories associated with it. My mom always used ground beef and frozen spinach for the filling, but I like using pork and a milder vegetable like Napa cabbage. I’ve also used just scallions, which is nice if you don’t like stronger onion flavor. I don’t like ginger, but most restaurants use minced ginger in their filling. My mom recently has experimented with adding soft tofu and/or soaked mung bean noodles for a softer texture to the filling.
People might recognize these dumplings in their pan fried form, known as gyoza and served as appetizers in Japanese restaurants. These are boiled and dipped in soy sauce, and are truly a meal on their own. They are best eaten when hot out of the water, so I have been known to stand at the stove and eat them as I scoop them out of the pot. Hey, when no one’s around to watch or count how many dumplings are missing….“
4-5 dried Shitake mushrooms, soaked in warm water to plump up
1 tbsp cornstarch (approx amount, I add more if the filling is too loose)
1 tbsp Soy sauce
1/2-1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp salt (don’t need a lot of salt because you will add soy sauce to the filling as well as to the dipping sauce)
1/2 tsp black pepper
To make the filling:
- Place scallions, Napa, and soaked mushrooms in a food processor and chop until in small pieces but not a paste.
- Mix the vegetable mixture with ground pork, egg, soy sauce, sesame oil, salt and pepper.
- Add enough cornstarch to the meat mixture to bind everything together.
- Place about 1 tbsp of filling in the center of a wrapper, dab water round the edge of the wrapper. Fold wrapper in half to make a half moon shape, and pinch together at the center. From the corner, start folding the back side of the wrapper and pinching it to the front side of the wrapper.
- When you are done, the back side of the dumpling will look like it has pleats. Or you can skip the pleating and just pinch the edges together to form a flat half moon…whatever works best to keep the filling sealed inside the wrapper.
- Bring a large stock pot 3/4 full of water to a boil and drop in enough dumplings to make one layer in the pot. The dumplings will sink to the bottom of the pot, then start floating when they start cooking.
- Cook the dumplings for about 5-10 minutes more, depending on how thick your dumpling wrappers are; keep the water at a gentle boil.You don’t want it to boil so hard that the dumplings break apart.
- Remove dumplings from the water when the wrappers start looking translucent. You can also fish one out and cut it open to make sure the wrapper and filling are cooked through. Repeat with another batch of dumplings.
Soy sauce dip for dumplings:
2 parts soy sauce
1 part rice vinegar
Few drops of sesame oil (to taste)
- Mix together and dip dumplings…enjoy!
- I use Sue Gow dim sum wrappers because the dumpling wrappers made by this brand are too thick. You can also use square wonton wrappers to make these dumplings, or like my dad use to do, make your own dough.
- You can freeze the uncooked dumplings and have a quick dinner by throwing the frozen dumplings in boiling water. You might have to boil them a bit longer to make sure everything is cooked through.