Pork and Cabbage Dumplings


Happy Chinese New Year Eve! Gong Hay Fat Choy! Chinese New Year is tomorrow and I hope all of you find a way to celebrate. Whether you celebrate by getting some Chinese take out or by going out for a 12 dish meal with your friends and family, Saturday is a day to share good food with good people. My favorite activity!

Since I've been living in San Francisco for the last 3 years I haven't actually been able to spend Chinese New Year with my family for a while. Oh, how I miss Cho family and my grandma's insanely delicious fried sticky pork dumplings, she only makes them this time of year, bah!. I try to overcome my intense homesickness by inviting a bunch of friends for a Chinese feast and by eating my weight in dumplings. 

If there is anytime to make your own dumplings it is Chinese New Year. Homemade dumplings are not weeknight dinners, unless you want to eat at 1am. You make dumplings for special occasions, if you have an anniversary, if your eldest child and only daughter comes home after a long stint away. My dad makes potstickers just the way I like them, thick skinned and doughy. Let's be honest, the wrapper just subtly flavored by the filling is the best part of dumpling! When I was little I would only eat the skin and pass the meatball filling to my mom or grandpa, my favorite are the Har Gow skins mmmmmmmmmmm. Even when I made these dumplings last weekend, I begged Reuben to just to give me a bite of his wrapper if the dumpling fell apart. I'm not really sure what's going to happen once I have a mini-me that will most likely only want to eat the dumpling skin too... hopefully she will be a better person than me.

Alright, before you start to judge my dumpling forming skills, I just want to state that I am by no means a dumpling making expert. I'm an expert dumpling eater and I know what a great dumpling tastes like. My DPM (dumpling per minute) is not very fast and fancy shapes are still a little beyond me. One day I will be as fast and precise as the people at Din Tai Fung. Until then, I am working on it! I took this experience to experiment with different forming techniques: Half-Moons (first photo), Mo Mo Style (second photo), pleated Half-Moons, and Wanton style. Not every dumpling is ready for their picture to be taken, but even if they were ugly they tasted great and we ate them the second they came out of the steamer. For your first time, try making the half moons so you get comfortable with the texture of the dough and the motion of forming.

These pork and cabbage dumplings are super classic and relatively easy to make. It just takes a bit of time and patience. So get all your ingredients, put on some Motown, and get rolling! Happy Weekend!

Steamed Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

makes 24 large dumplings or 36 small dumplings

Dough :

2 C all-purpose flour

3/4 C just boiled water

Filling : 

2 C chopped Napa Cabbage ( about 6-8 whole leaves)

1/2 tsp salt + 1/2 tsp salt for cabbage

1 1/2 inch piece of minced fresh ginger

1/2 C chopped scallions ( whites and greens)

1  LB ground pork

1/4 tsp of black pepper

1/4 C water

2 Tbsp soy sauce ( light not dark )

1 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp sesame oil

Make the filling :

  1. Salt the chopped cabbage with 1/2 tsp of salt and let sit for 15 minutes, the salt will help bring any moisture out of the cabbage. After 15 minutes, rinse under water and squeeze out any excess moisture in paper towels or a cheese cloth.
  2. In a large bowl, place ground pork, ginger, scallions, and cabbage. Use a large fork or your hands to mix until it starts to come together.
  3. In a small bowl, stir in your remaining salt, black pepper, water, soy sauce, rice wine, olive oil, and sesame oil. Whisk together and pour into pork mixture. Mix your filling until it becomes cohesive and your ingredients look evenly disrupted. Let stand at room temperature for 30 mins to allow the flavors to develop. This can be made 1 day ahead.

Make the Dough/Dumpling :

  1. In a large bowl, place flour and make a well in the middle. Pour just barely boiled water into the middle and mix with a wooden spoon. The hot water will help make your dough more pliable and easier to work with. Mix with a spoon until all the moisture has been incorporated. Your dough will still seem a little crumbly. Put your dough on a lightly floured surface, knead for 2-4 minutes until it becomes a smooth-ish round ball. Place in a ziplock bag and let rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  2. Once your dough has rested, take out of the ziplock bag and knead your dough again for 10 seconds. Divide the dough in half. Keep 1 half in the ziplock bag so it doesn't dry out.
  3. Roll out the other half into a 1" think rope. Divide the rope into 12 equal pieces for large dumplings or 18 for smaller dumplings.
  4. With a small rolling pin, roll out each piece into 3" discs. If the dough starts to stick just sprinkle some flour on your surface and the rolling pin.
  5. Place 1 Tbsp of filling (you can adjust based on the size of your wrappers) in the middle of the wrapper, fold in half to form a half-moon and pinch the edges to close. Repeat with each wrapper.
  6. Repeats steps 3-5 with the other half of dough. If you have leftover filling, save it because it's really delicious pan fried and with rice!
  7. Once all your dumplings have been made, you can either boil them or steam them. If you're going to boil, boil dumplings for 4-5 minutes until they float. If you're going to steam, line your steamers with cabbage leaves and arrange your dumplings on top and steam for 8-10 minutes. Tips on how to setup your bamboo steamer.
  8. Let your dumplings cool for a few minutes and then enjoy with some soy sauce and red chili flakes!