A couple months ago I asked my dad if he would teach a session of How to Make Homemade Dumplings. Darcy and Mike D participated and it was totally fun and DELICIOUS. This is the kind of cooking school where you can eat the results. We made everything from scratch, from dumpling wrappers to a special dumpling dipping sauce.
Homemade dumplings from scratch are really easy provided that you have A LIFETIME of experience. Okay, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. It’s actually fairly simple to make ones to eat, it’s a little harder to make pretty restaurant style ones. The two tricky parts are 1) making the wrappers and 2) folding.
If you want to know how easy it is to fold restaurant quality dumplings, the expression on Mike D’s face is a perfect combination of exasperation and disappointment all rolled into one. Darcy’s expression of laser focus and pure concentration also tells you what is required.
But do not be disheartened! You can just fold them in half and seal them really simply, almost pierogi style. You can see examples of that folding style in the last picture in the lower right corner. They will still taste delicious, despite being not as fancy. And if you don’t have mad dumpling wrapper rolling skillz like my professional chef dad, you can buy dumpling skins at most Asian grocery stores, especially the ones that specialize more in Chinese food. Just be careful when you are buying them that you are not buying wonton skins. Wonton wrappers and dumpling wrappers are totally different. Wonton wrappers are made with egg, dumpling wrappers are not. Dumpling wrappers are thick, white and circular in shape. Wonton wrappers are usually square, yellow/mustard colored and paper thin. That being said, homemade wrappers are the bomb–silky and smooth, soft and light. Drool.
The best part about making your own is that after you make them, you can freeze them and then boil them anytime you get that dumpling hankering. Also, you can prepare them anyway you like, frying or just boiling/steaming. AND it is versatile because you can fill it with any combination of things. You can make pork based ones like we did or even vegetarian ones. You can vary the herbs and spices, as well as the meat–such as pork with seafood or even beef.
Another thing to keep in mind is the quality of the fillings/meats you use. The better the pork you buy, the more delicious. Kind of obvious, but sometimes people think that because you are adding so many other ingredients to the mixture that means you can buy sub-par fillings a la Taco Bell. This is false! For Dumpling School, Darcy purchased amazing quality ground pork from Whole Foods. It was fantastic and the difference even from Stop ‘n’ Shop pork was obvious.
With all this talk about dumplings and the collage above, you probably think I’m going to list a recipe here. Surprise! You thought wrong! Unfortunately I don’t have a precise recipe right now, but if I ever write a detailed “how-to” recipe for the dumplings and the dipping sauce, you guys will be the first to know.
For now, I just wanted to share some pro-tips and pictures from the first and very successful Dumpling School. Darcy and Mike D ate so many dumplings that they earned top billing in the list of my friends that my dad actually remembers. (It’s a really short list.)