Sunday 31 January 2010

Making dumplings with Mariana

Last night we had a great night making dumplings at my friend Mariana's house. It was easy, as we bought ready-made dumpling "skins" from a Vietnamese shop. And it turned out that even inexperience can't make a dumpling taste bad - they were all delicious!

We made 2 different dumpling fillings: pork and vegetable and crabmeat and spring onion. For 3 people I would recommend buying 3 packets of skins (the above packets have 15 each). We had 2 packets so we ended up with 10 dumplings each, which was fine but we had loads of filling left over!

Here are the ingredients for the pork and vegetable dumpling filling:

300 grams minced pork
half a cabbage
2 carrots
6 spring onions
soya sauce

And here's what we used for the crabmeat and spring onion dumpling filling:

Cooked crabmeat (you can use tinned crabmeat but I happened to find a freshly cooked whole crab)
4 spring onions
half a lime
garlic salt

For the pork and vegetable dumplings we grated the carrots and finely chopped the cabbage and spring onions, and cooked them in 2 separate pans.

We then made space in the bigger pan, poured a bit more oil in the gap, like that up there...

...and added the pork mince. We fried it like that until it changed colour, constantly breaking it up with a fork and chopsticks. Once it was cooked through we mixed all the vegetables from the other pan in with it, added some soya sauce and a splash of white wine (the is optional, we wanted to make sure the meat wouldn't dry out) and covered it up and let it cook for a bit longer. I'd say it cooked for about 20-25 minutes in total. Then we allowed it to cool, while we prepared the crabmeat filling:

This was super-easy: we just mixed the crabmeat with finely chopped spring onion and the lime juice and the garlic salt

And the dumpling fillings are ready! You can start off making the crab dumplings, while the pork mixture cools. So we got all our skins ready, grabbed some trays and some water in little bowls and the dumpling making began for real.

First things first: Mariana, who has a little bit of dumpling-making experience, showed us that you need to mould the inside of the skin a little bit for the dumpling mixture to have a bit of space

Then, you wet the edges with the water, stick a large teaspoon of your mixture in the middle...

And stick the sides together. that, down there, is the most simple shape, and a good place to begin:

But of course, after you have made a couple of simple ones to boost your confidence, and if you're a creative soul, you may want to experiment with different forms, like we did

And I'll tell you one thing I learnt about dumpling making last night: often, the weirder the shape, the tastier the dumpling. so you can't really go wrong. However, do make sure you seal it properly, so the filling doesn't seep out while cooking. If there are any you are not sure of, it's better to fry them. We fried half, and steamed half

And that was a great balance, so I'd recommend it to anyone. Then, a very important part of the process; dumpling dipping sauces: we used soya sauce and chilli oil. And 2 bottle of white wine also a welcome addition ;o) - all in all a lot of fun was had and I will definitely be repeating "dumpling night"

Of course, we only focussed on Asian style dumplings last night, and, in order to pay our dues, we discussed dumplings from other parts of the world- Poland, Spain, Mexico... I have a feeling that every country has their own dumpling-making tradition. 


  1. will have to try it sometime! At the moment, I have been lazy and bought frozen ones....*gulp