Homemade Chinese dumplings. They can be either hearty or delicate, and pretty much nothing is better — except maybe Chinese dumplings with chives. Not the wimpy little green flecks atop a baked potato… but the thick, aromatic, even pungent kind known as garlic chives.
I remember that my mother used to grow these in a little garden outside of our apartment in Michigan. They looked very similar to crabgrass, only longer and more fragrant. While she used a pair of shears to trim off stalks of the chives, I used a small pair of household scissors to snip bits of the grass and weeds that sprang up around the plot.
Nowadays, we just go to the Asian market to buy chives. They’re most bountiful in late summer or fall, but they are available pretty much year round. In Mandarin, they are known as jiu cai. In Taiwanese, they are called ku chai. The bunches they are sold in are huge and you will only need about one-third of it for the dumpling filling, so find other uses for the excess. Chives are great scrambled with eggs or stir-fried with noodles.
Many people think of homemade dumplings as a special-occasion treat. But really, they shouldn’t be.
With store-bought wrappers, Chinese dumplings can be an easy dinner. My mother and I used to wrap them regularly on weekday afternoons. She’d lay all the metal bowl of filling and a plate of wrappers in the center of the kitchen table.
Pick up a wrapper. Place a small oblong dab of filling in the middle. Dip your index finger into the small bowl of water that you keep on the table for this purpose and wet the edges of the skin.
The motions are burned into my muscle memory.
While you’re folding, start boiling water in a big pot. This is not the kind of dinner you cook and have sitting around, waiting for everyone to be seated. During dumpling nights, someone had to be constantly popping up from the table, manning the bubbling pot and scooping out each new batch of dumplings and rushing them to rest of the hungry family.
Most of the ingredients are things you probably already have in your refrigerator or pantry or can easily buy at any grocery store. Ground pork, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil. The only things you may need to go to an Asian market to buy are the garlic chives and the wrappers. Most large supermarkets carry dumpling skins, but Chinese markets carry a vast array of wrappers, specialized for jiao zi, guo tie, gyoza, won ton, or siu mai.
Sometimes, we’d make a big batch and freeze the extras on a floured baking sheet. Or just eat them all.
Scroll down for the recipe…
Chinese Dumplings With Chives
- 1 package Chinese dumpling wrappers (look for the ones marked jiao zi or sui jiao for making boiled dumplings)
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 2 c. chopped garlic chives
- 1 in. chunk of ginger, peeled and minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. rice wine (mi jiu)
- 2 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp. salt
- In a large bowl, add pork, wine, soy sauce, sesame oil and salt. Add chives, garlic, ginger, cornstarch and egg. Mix well, using your hands or chopsticks.
- Prepare your work area by setting a small bowl of water and hand towel nearby. Lightly Flour a flat surface, such as a cutting board or a large plate to store finished dumplings.
- Work with only a small number of wrappers at a time. I take about 1/4 of the package out to start, reserving the rest in the package or under a moist paper towel.
- Holding the wrapper flat in your left hand, place a small amount of filling in the center of the wrapper, in sort of an oval shape. About one teaspoon of filling is a good amount to start with, although the quantity will vary depending on how flexible the skins are and how proficient you are at shaping and folding the dumplings.
- Dip your right index finger in the bowl of water and run it along the edge of the wrapper.
- Cup the wrapper with its filling like a taco in the palm of your left hand. With your right hand, begin at the right corner and pinch the two edges closed. As you pinch the edges, make very small (about 1/4″) pleats along the side of the wrapper farthest from you. This gives the dumpling its slightly curved shape.
- Place the finished dumpling on the floured surface and cover them with plastic wrap or a damp cheesecloth.
- Repeat about 100 times.
- Boil a large pot of water (a stockpot, if you are feeding a crowd. A large saucepan if you are just boiling a few dumplings at a time).
- When the water reaches a rolling boil, add dumplings one at a time, being careful not to let them stick together. The pot should not be so crowded that the dumplings cannot move around.
- Add one cup cold water, and let the pot come back to near boiling.
- When the dumplings float and the skins look a little translucent they are done. Fresh dumplings that have not been frozen take about five minutes. Remove one dumpling with a slotted spoon and cut open to test for doneness.
- Serve with dipping sauces such as soy sauce, black vinegar, chili sauce, and sesame oil.
Want to freeze extra dumplings? Scroll down for tips…
To Freeze Dumplings:
Cover the floured tray of dumplings tightly with plastic wrap. Freeze about six hours or overnight until just frozen solid. Remove them to a freezer-safe zipper bag for long-term storage. Don’t store them on the tray or plate for too long, as they’ll get freezer burn easily that way. And don’t try to freeze them on a surface that isn’t floured. You’ll end up with one solid mass that is attached to the plate. Frozen dumplings will take much longer to cook, about 10 minutes.