With her Happy Woman Kitchen project, 2019 Foodie of the Year Wendy Au Yeung brings together a community of immigrant women to celebrate their culinary talents with pop-up events selling Hong Kong-style curry fish balls and other classic Chinese street-food treats. One of her collaborators is Kong Tai, who shared her go-to dumpling recipe with us for our July 2019 issue.
Most Chinese home cooks like Kong Tai don’t refer to written recipes; rather, their seasoned eyeballs and fingertips just know how much of each ingredient to use. We’ve tried our best to put a specific amount of each, but here’s a tip: fry a bit of the dumpling filling, or wrap a few dumplings and cook them, then do a taste-test and adjust accordingly before wrapping the entire batch. The dumpling wrapping technique is best demonstrated in person; a quick Google search should give you many wrapping styles to learn from.
Kong Tai’s Pork and Chive Dumplings
100 dumpling wrappers
4 lb ground pork (preferably a mix of lean meat and fat)
2 lb Chinese/garlic chives, finely minced
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
1½ tbsp chicken bouillon powder
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp neutral-tasting oil
4 tbsp sesame oil
¾ cup water
Chinese black (Zhenjiang) vinegar
Chili oil, to taste
In a large mixing bowl, combine pork and chives with remaining dumpling ingredients until everything is evenly distributed. The texture should resemble a thick paste. If it looks dry, add more oil and water 1tbsp at a time.
To wrap dumplings, place a spoonful of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Use your finger to paint water over the edges, then fold half the wrapper over the filling and pinch to seal. Ideally, use 2 to 3 tsp of filling in each dumpling, to make sure it is well-stuffed. If you’re a beginner, use a bit less to start with.
Boiling: Bring a large pan of water to boil and gently drop in dumplings. Don’t overcrowd the pot. Once water comes to a boil, add a cup of cold water, and repeat two more times. Dumplings are cooked when they float to the surface.
Pan-frying: Heat 1 to 2 tbsp oil in a heavy non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Once oil is shimmering, arrange dumplings in the pan. Fry until bottoms are light golden brown. Add enough water to pan to cover dumplings by half. Cover with a lid and steam until dumplings are cooked through (about 8 to 10 minutes, more if frozen). Remove lid and allow remaining water to evaporate and dumplings to crisp up.
To make the dipping sauce, starting with equal amounts of each ingredient, combine as per your liking. Some like it more tangy or spicy, but the bulk of the flavour should already be in the filling.
Serve dumplings hot with dipping sauce. Makes about 100 dumplings, or 6 to 10 servings.
Photo by Tanya Goehring
Dumpling Making Tips
To freeze leftover dumplings (if any!), lightly dust a baking sheet with flour and arrange dumplings on top, making sure that they don’t touch. Freeze until dumplings are solidly frozen, then transfer to a container or bag for storing.
Leftover filling can be stir-fried and used as a topping on rice or noodles. Leftover wrappers can be stored in the freezer, well-sealed, for future dumpling adventures.