Asian Dumplings: Comfort Food and a Craft Project in One!

I’m not a food blogger, but I love to cook, eat, and make things with my hands. These dumplings are a soothing experience from start to finish, much like knitting. 

I make them assembly-line-style. When I want a one-bowl meal to nourish my soul, I just add dumplings to broth, simmer for 8 minutes, add veggies, and supper is ready. I’ve made a large batch here, about 150 dumplings. You may want to make half that the first time.

A pound and a half of Portobello mushrooms, sliced, cut lengthwise into sticks, then diced, go into a suitable sized pot with some olive oil in the bottom. Let them simmer, stirring every few minutes, while you prepare the other ingredients. I know, it seems like a lot, but they will shrink.

Ah, ginger. One of my favorite foods! And so good for you. Peel it if you like, slice it lengthwise into thin sticks, and dice. This requires a decent knife as ginger is sturdy.

two eggs in hand and diced ginger in the blender

I happen to have a Vitamix, and so I didn’t worry about dicing my ginger as finely as I would otherwise. I added 2 eggs to the diced ginger (which came to about 1.25 cups of ginger, yum!), and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, then whirred it to a puree.

diced ginger and an egg in the bottom of a blender

Here we are before whirring. Don’t forget to check on your mushrooms! Give them a nice stir and then come back.

Sliced green onions

Two fresh bundles of green onions, sliced lengthwise into narrow strips and then diced. Everything needs to be small so it behaves inside the gyoza wrapper.

Gyoza Wrappers

You’ll find gyoza wrappers in the refrigerated section of your market, probably alongside kim chi and bean sprouts. They are round; won ton wrappers are square.  You can use either, but the gyoza are easier to manage and the round shape is very nice to work with. I bought 3 packages, and have half a package in my freezer as back-up if I need them. It is very sad to run out of wrappers because it means you won’t have as many dumplings! There are about 48 wrappers per package.

In a mixing bowl, dump the ginger mixture from the Vitamix (of course, you can also have simply diced the ginger finely, and mixed it with the eggs and soy sauce), a pound of ground pork (I used a local organic pork), the onions, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional). By now your mushrooms have given up their excess liquid and have shrunk; let them cool a bit and add them to the bowl. Mix everything well together. You happen to have two of the finest kitchen tools ready to do this: your hands. Moosh and squeeze everything through your fingers until ingredients are evenly distributed. You’re now ready to fill wrappers!

I work on a cutting board, 6 wrappers at a time. You’ll need a little bowl of water for moistening and sealing the edges. As you form the dumplings, place them neatly on a cookie sheet covered in a silicone baking mat. You’ll be sliding this into your freezer when it’s full, and an hour later can pop the dumplings off the silicon and into a ziplock bag for storage. Place about a rounded teaspoon of filling on each wrapper as shown. If you’re like me, you want as much filling as possible because it is so tasty, but you’ll soon find that there is a limit. Too much, and you can’t keep it inside when you close the wrapper.  You’ll discover the right amount yourself after a few tries. Dip a finger into the water, run the wet finger around the top half edge, fold the bottom of the wrapper to the top and press firmly along the edges to seal.

Here they are, nicely sealed and ready to move to the cookie sheet.

Ah. It is so so satisfying to see a tray full of delectable dumplings appear! In the freezer they go, and on to the next cookie sheet. Depending on your supply of cookie sheets, silicon mats, and freezer space, you may have to take a break. If so, put the filling in the refrigerator and cover the wrappers so they don’t dry out.

Time for your reward! Bring a cup-and-a-half of broth to a boil, drop in a dozen dumplings, and cover. If they’re not frozen, they’ll be done in about 5 minutes. Stir them now and then so they don’t stick to the bottom. In the meantime, chop up some veggies. I used carrots and rainbow chard today—the colors!

Get your bowl ready: drizzle some toasted sesame oil in the bottom and add a little Sriracha sauce. When you pour the soup into the bowl, everything will mix up. A squeeze of lime is great too, but I didn’t have any today.

Ah. Enjoy! So soothing! And know that your freezer is full of more!

Alternately, you can make them into potstickers, by sautéing them in a little oil until browned, then adding some water and covering to finish cooking. Drizzle with soy sauce or anything you like!