I have made pan-fried and boiled dumplings in the past and I always get comments that ask me: Can I steam them? The answer is NO! You cannot use regular dumpling wrappers to make steamed dumplings because the skin will come out tough and chewy.
The correct way to make steamed dumpling wrappers is to use hot water to form the dough. Combine 280g of all-purpose flour with 1/2 tsp of salt. Slowly pour in 180 grams of boiling hot water and stir the flour at the same time. Right now, the flour is still a bit hot. You just cover it and let it cool for a couple of minutes.
Did you notice that the water ratio is 64%? regular homemade dumpling wrappers is usually 55% or less. That is because hot water will denature some of the protein and the flour can now adsorb more water without being sticky. The dumpling does not contact the water directly while steaming, with a little bit of extra water that we forced into the dough, the skin will come out nice and soft.
When the flour becomes less hot, go in with your hands and form everything into a rough dough while everything is still warm. Drizzle in 2 tsp of vegetable oil and knead it 3-5 minutes or until the oil is absorbed. Cover it again. Give it 15 minutes to relax the gluten. Knead it again for a few more minutes or until smooth. Shape it into a log. Cover it and let it rest for 30 minutes.
While waiting, we can make the filling. Turn the heat to medium. Add a few tbsp of vegetable oil to the wok. Don’t need to wait for the wok to get hot. Just directly add 1 cup of diced onion, 1/3 cup of minced garlic, and 2.5 tbsp of minced ginger. A lot of dumpling recipes will just add these aromatic into the filling directly. Today we will do something different. Take a little extra step to caramelize them, which makes a huge difference in taste. Stir over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. The onion doesn’t need to turn brown completely. You just keep an eye on the garlic because it usually burns faster than the onion.
My garlic bits are golden brown now, let’s turn off the heat. We will pour in 1/3 cup of chicken stock or water will also wok. For 3 reasons, first, it will cool down everything so when you add this to the ground pork, it doesn’t cook the meat right away. Second, it will deglaze the wok so you don’t waste any flavor. Last, a little bit of liquid makes the filling extra juicy and tender. Ok, now, we are going to season it with 2 tbsp of soy sauce, 1.5 tbsp of oyster sauce, 1.5 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine, 1/2 tsp of sugar, some black pepper to taste. Mix thoroughly. It may not look that good yet but this smells like heaven.
Pour the aromatics into 500 grams of ground pork. Go in with your hand and mix it thoroughly. Then stir the filling in one direction for 3-5 minutes to develop the texture. Add 1/3 cup of diced scallion and 160 grams of sweet corn. If you never had sweet corn in your dumpling before, you must give it a try. It adds some sweetness and juiciness – very nice. Mix thoroughly and your filling is done.
I know some of you are wondering why do you have to stir the filling within one direction. Let me explain: meat contains lots of proteins. They are long, chain-like molecules at the microscopic level. When you stir them in one direction, you are unfolding and stretching the molecules into strings. You can actually see the change. In 5 minutes of stirring, your filling will be sticky and pulling away from the edge of the bowl. You can see some strings appearing. Imagine millions of micro strings tangling with each other and forming into a net; that is how you get a good texture for your filling. If you stir and then reverse, you will break down the structure and the filling will be loose and won’t join together.
The dumpling dough has been rested for 30 minutes. Roll it into a long even log then divide into 40 pieces. Each one should weigh 11-12 grams, which is quite small compared to a regular dumpling wrapper. This is because steamed dumplings should have light skin. You don’t want it to be thick and doughy. Lightly dust some flour to prevent stickiness. Cover all the pieces with a slightly damp towel so they don’t dry out.
Take one piece of the dough. Dust it with a little more flour. Flatten it with your hand first, then we are going to roll it into a round wrapper. This is how I do it. The rolling pin goes forward and back. The left-hand holds the dough and turns it while the right hand keeps rolling it. Repeat this fast, and you will get a wrapper with a thick middle and a thin edge. The diameter is about 2.5 inches
Put about 1.5 tbsp of filling in the middle. The left-hand holds the wrapper and the filling. Pinch the right corner and lift it up. Pinch a pleat on the bottom half of the wrapper, then make one on the top half of the wrapper. One after another. Repeat this all the way until the end. This requires both of your hands to work together in a balance. Rub the little tip to close the dumpling. Look how pretty it is.
This is a leaf shape dumpling, which is one of the complicated folding methods. If this is too difficult for you, that’s all right, you can check out this post “24 ways to fold dumplings”, in which, I included lots of fool-proof folding methods.
Ok, next we are going to steam the dumplings. Wet a cheesecloth and place it into the steamer. Put the dumplings in one by one. If you don’t have a cheesecloth, you can use parchment paper as well. Just make sure you poke some holes on the paper to allow the steam to go through.
Fill the pot with some cold water. Put the steamer right on the top and turn the heat to high. Once you can see some steam coming out, switch the heat to medium and steam for 12 minutes.
While waiting, let’s make a dipping sauce. You will need 2 tbsp of pure peanut butter, 2 tsp of pure sesame butter, and 1 tbsp of sugar. Stir in 4-5 tbsp of boiling hot water in batches and get it into a smooth creamy texture. Season it with 1/3 tsp of salt, 1/2 tbsp of soy sauce, and 1/2 tbsp of Chinese black vinegar. Mix thoroughly. Sprinkle some chili flake and sesame seeds as garnish.
I love when you open the lid, the steam just blows in your face. When you bite into the dumpling, you can really taste the result of the caramelized aromatics. It is very interesting when you bite into the sweet corn. The flavor just starts bursting in your mouth. The dipping sauce does look heavy, but it is well balanced with this dumpling because we made the wrapper very thin.