Pork Dumplings

 Alternative title: DUMPLINGPARTY WOOHOO!

This post comes belatedly, as Veronica and I were swept away in the midst of homework, job applications, and the arrival of finals. On Friday nights, I’ve been known to invite people over for a homemade dinner, a rarer aspect of campus dining. It’s usually a simple dinner: curry with rice, abode with rice, steak and potatoes. For this particular Friday, I decided to throw a dumpling party. I had gotten two pounds of ground pork from the local food co-op, my last purchase for the semester. And what better way to use up pork that making tons and tons of dumplings?

Makin' dumplings

Our crowded workstation


Our little party was fantastic! We had a lovely affair with lots of food and chatter, a much needed reprieve from campus food. Rarely did we have such a ‘big’ (i.e. greater than four) parties in our abode. We asked the others to bring in food and made plenty of our own. Veronica made her savory chicken satay and our guests brought in garlicky green beans, smooth vegan truffles, and other delights. We should throw more dinner parties and gatherings next year, since we are getting an entire house to ourselves. (A Justin Timberlake rave anyone?)

Dumplings are universally welcomed party food — it’s easy to make the filling and have your guests help out with making some dumplings (division of labor, you know). I chose pork here–nice, local, and fatty ground pork–but we also made some vegetarian dumplings by separating out some of the cabbage mix and using chopped baby bella mushrooms instead of meat in that mix. They take about 10 minutes from folding to plating, so the return for hard work comes quickly.

We ended up making around 140-150 dumplings, more than enough to feed the eight hungry people that were in our apartment with leftovers to last us the rest of the semester. I prefer them pan-fried, with a crispy bottom and a chewy top (and thus promptly ate all the fried dumplings before snapping a photo of them). But if you decide to boil them, they’ll turn out soft and bursting with porky juices. These dumplings are great served with a drizzle of soy sauce or with dab of your favorite chili paste for a bit of saltiness and heat. I’ve also included the sauce I usually serve with these but they are also good on their own.


Pork Dumplings

Makes ~150 dumplings*

2 pounds of ground pork
1 head of Napa cabbage, finely diced
4 medium carrots, shredded
One bundle of green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic (around two or three cloves)
6 tablespoons soy sauce
Heavy pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Sesame oil
Ground black pepper
Wonton wrappers*
Vegetable oil

*This recipe makes approximately 150 modestly filled dumplings. We bought three 48-wrapper packs and managed to use up all the filling, with some leftover wrappers. Of course the amount will vary based on how much you stuff each dumpling, size of wrappers, etc. If you want to make your own wrappers, go for it! It’s labour intensive but it’s quite fun.

In a very large bowl (or two medium bowls), combine in the pork, cabbage, carrots, green onions, and garlic. Be gentle! Mix around with your fingers, breaking up the meat bits gently. No squishing or compacting necessary yet. In another small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, red pepper flakes, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and ground black pepper. Mix in the liquids with the pork mixture, enough to distribute the soy sauce around the meat using the same gentle tossing motion.

I usually use about two teaspoons of filling for each wrapper but it’ll depend how you want to fold and shape your dumplings. If you want to start with simple, just place a spoonful of filling in the middle of a wrapper, wet the edges with a finger dipped in water, and make a valley fold from one corner to a diagonal corner. This will make nice, triangular dumplings.

Here’s my nice Paint diagram of how I folded the dumplings:

How to Fold a Dumpling

1. One empty wonton wrapper. 2. Place ~2 tsp of filling in the wonton wrapper. Lightly wet the edges with water. 3. Close wrapper with a diagonal valley fold. Press on edges.

After folding your dumplings, you can cook them in one of two ways: pan-fried or boiled. If you don’t end up cooking all of them, you may freeze them at this point for a quick meal in the future.

If you’re opting for pan-frying, heat up a skillet (size depends on how many dumplings you want to cook in each batch; smaller is better) with a 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Tilt the pan around to coat the bottom. When the oil is hot, place the dumplings in the pan standing up (depending how you fold the dumplings, there’s a natural bottom for the dumplings to sit on) and let sit for 3 minutes. Then add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and cover the pan. Let cook for for 5-7 more minutes. If you are cooking frozen dumpling, there is no need to defrost them; just cook them for a minute or so.

Remove the cover and let the water evaporate away if it hasn’t already. Pluck the dumplings out with tongs or a bit of dexterity with forks and serve hot.

To boil the dumplings, heat up a large pot of water (kinda like you’re making pasta) and when the water is boiling, add the dumplings (don’t crowd them). Let gently boil for 10 minutes, stirring every now and then. Some of the dumplings will open but that’s okay! Rescue your preciouslings from the water with a slotted spoon and serve immediately.

A plate of boiled deliciousness

Mmm. All hot and piled on top of each other…

And of course, you can’t forgot your:

Dumpling Sauce

¼ cup of soy sauce
4-5 drops of sesame oil
A splash of rice wine vinegar
¼ teaspoons red pepper flakes

Whisk together and divide into your desired serving dishes. Dip a dumpling in your sauce and then munch away.