Monday, January 23, 2012

Making Dumplings

Happy Chinese New Year everyone, gong xi fa cai! The Lunar New Year always brings back memories of when I lived in Shanghai - I spent the first five years of my life being raised by my wai po and wai gong and lived in a one bedroom flat with them (my grandparents), my uncle, aunty and cousin. We didn't have much space but occasionally we would have homemade dumplings for dinner when my aunty and grandparents had enough time to - the process would take an entire afternoon and our tiny apartment would wear a light dusting of flour for the days after. I remember eagerly awaiting freshly cooked dumplings come dinner time and more often than not, manage to burn my tongue on the hot dumpling soup that escaped when biting into the wrappers. I could eat a dozen of them but there would always be plenty of leftovers to pan-fry for lunch the next day.

Living in Australia there haven't been many opportunities to eat properly homemade dumplings again - my parents never made the wrappers from scratch so we've always used store-bought ones; rolling the wrappers to the perfect thickness and shape was a bit of my grandfather's speciality. However, since my grandparents are here with us, I've been indulging in these homemade beauties again and I thought I'd share the process with you all - watching the making of can be mesmerising as every person has a specific role and worked together like a well-oiled dumpling machine. I don't spend a lot of time with my family so being there with them doing this together is a bit special for me.

My mother prepared the dough for the skins, kneaded it and cut it into sections...

my grandfather rolled out the dough into wrappers...

my dad wrapped the dumplings...

my grandmother cooked the dumplings...

...and I ate the dumplings!

Pork and cabbage, simple but a classic. These were incredible, albeit rustic-looking and not as beautifully pleated as the ones from Din Tai Fung but they tasted so much better (I may be a little biased). The frozen dumplings from the Asian mart and the store-bought wrappers I've grown accustomed to doesn't even begin to compare to this in the tastiness.

The skins were the perfect texture of firm chewiness, with a tán xìng (bounciness/elasticity) lent to by the freshness of the dough. My mother always mixes the best filling that is flavoursome with just the right level of savouriness, rendering the dumpling soup inside was heavenly xiān (鲜, sorry I can't think of a suitable translation for this right now). It tasted like nostalgia and Shanghai and childhood to me. And yes, the following day we had pan-fried dumplings for lunch.


  1. Oh my, I'm so impressed...they look beyond amazing!! I've made dumplings in the past, but I've always bought the dumpling wrappers. Happy Chinese New Year :) x

  2. I hope you had a lovely start to the Lunar Year!
    Thank you for sharing, honestly, this is just so beautifully nostalgic and it's so wonderful that the entire family has come together over this dish :) They look absolutely delectable!

  3. A beautiful post. Store bought pastry doesn't compare to the home made, though I have to settle for the former. My preference is definitely pan fried - I can almost eat them endlessly!

  4. Happy CNY. Your dumplings look gorgeous.

  5. Sorry, I've no idea! My mum just makes them herself and she doesn't follow a written recipe. Her English isn't very good but I'll try asking her and let you know :)

  6. "..and I ate the dumplings!" - Haha! I would do the very same. :P

  7. Goodness.... this looks amazing! I just spent a year in China and I definitely miss the cheap but amazing dumplings (especially xiaolongbao)