Some people run. Others doodle. I like to make dumplings.
To me a stack of dumpling skins is like a yoga class -- no distractions, just a moving meditation while you focus on spoon, fold, cross, pinch and repeat.
While dumplings aren’t strictly weeknight meal-material, they are easy weekend projects that set the groundwork for easy weeknight meals. Though if you’re reasonably nimble with your hands, you could knock out 50 dumplings in 40 minutes and if you have a helper, half that! Pop some veggies in the oven and roast them while you prep. You can have dinner on the table in an hour or so.
This is what a weeknight meal typically looks like for me: a small amount of meat, a small amount of carbs, a cooked veg and a raw veg. I also try to make enough for my husband and I to eat for lunch the next day. See? Small weekend project, big weekday payoff.
Makes 50 dumplings
1 lb raw, peeled, deveined shrimp
1 lb ground pork
½ cup of chopped garlic chives, flowering chives, or scallions
1 teaspoon shaoxing wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon white pepper (black pepper also works)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons salt
1 12-oz package of wonton skins
Finely chop the shrimp so it is almost paste-like (but not quite). Mix with the rest of the ingredients, except for the wonton skins. Br careful not to overwork, otherwise the meat will be tough. I recommend using your hands!
Set up your station: a sheet tray (for your finished dumplings), a bowl of water (to seal the dumplings), your meat, and the wonton skins, covered by a damp paper towel to prevent drying out.
Spoon about 1 heaping teaspoon of meat into the center of the wonton skin. Fold your dumpling like the image below, using water to seal the triangle and the “arms”. When done, place on the sheet tray, careful not to overlap the dumplings. Repeat until all the wonton skins are done.
To cook: Bring water to a boil in a wide saute pan. Drop dumplings into water and cook for about 5 minutes, or until meat is cooked through. If boiling from frozen, boil for 6-7 minutes.
To freeze: Place baking sheet filled with dumplings in freezer. Freeze until just-frozen, about 1 hour. Then place in a freezer bag and save for a weeknight meal!
Serve with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and rice vinegar. Proportions are to taste! If it’s still too salty for you, add water.
TIPS & TRICKS
If you want to experiment with adding more flavorings to the filling like cabbage, water chestnuts, etc… don’t. You only have 1 teaspoon in each dumpling so they’ll come at the expense of the meat.
You can pulse the shrimp in a food processor, but be careful not to overdo it. You still want the shrimp to have texture (think salsa and not tomato sauce).
It might seem like the meat mixture has a lot of salt, but remember that the salt will leach out into the boiling liquid/broth.
You want to use a wide saute pan when boiling the dumplings so they cook in one layer. If you boil in a pot, the wontons will knock against each other not only side-to-side, but also top-to-bottom, potentially ruining all your great folding work!
Make an easy broth out of the boiling liquid. Add a couple slices of ginger and soy sauce to the water. Then add dumplings and cook. The pork/shrimp/chive mixture will add flavor and the wonton skins will add starchy body. Serve with sliced chives.
If you have extra meat after you’ve used all your wontons skins, fry it up with a little oil and deglaze the pan with black or rice vinegar. This creates an extra-savory topping that gives a hint of what’s inside (think spiced chickpeas on top of hummus).