Feicui (翡翠) means jade;Baicai (白菜) is Chinese cabbage. These two words together are referring to the Chinese ornament – a cabbage carved out of jade. The dumplings that we are making today have a jade color, a pork cabbage filling, and a cabbage shape; that is how it got the name. This is a recipe that represents wealth. My family always makes it during the spring festival to wish them good fortune for the new year. I am super happy to share it with you.
1. Make The dumpling Dough
We will make two pieces of dough. The first one is the regular white color.
Add 1/3 tsp of salt into 150 g of room temperature water. Stir to dissolve. Slowly pour the sodium solution into 300g of dumpling flour. Stir with a spatula at the same time.
Go in with your hand and start gathering all the flour together. The water ratio in dumpling dough should be low so this is going to take some labor to work with. Once all the flour joined together, it will look pretty rough. That is ok. You just cover it with a slightly damp towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.
During this time, you can work on the second piece of dough. This one, we will color with some green leafy vegetables. I am using spinach. Put it in some boiling water. Blanch it for about 10 seconds. Take it out and rinse it with cold water so it can cool down instantly. Shake off the excess water.
Weigh the spinach. We need about 160-170 grams but I like to add a little more water because you will have some weight loss considering some the puree will attach on to your blender cup. Add 1/3 tsp of salt. Blend this into a puree.
Pour the puree into 300 grams of wheat flour. You should add it little by little to adjust the liquid amount because every brand of flour has a different water absorption rate. But I make this many times, I know this is gonna work perfectly for the flour that I use.
Go in with hands and do the same thing like you did with the white color dough. It is also going to be rough. Cover with a slightly damp towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.
15 minutes later, knead the first piece of dough for a few more minutes until smooth. Roll it into a log. Do the same thing to the green dough. Let both of them rest for 40 minutes.
Let me show you what flour I used. It says all-purpose flour on the package but I felt that the gluten content is pretty high, more like bread flour. I use it to make noodles, dumplings, steamed buns. It gives the final result a white and smooth appearance. If you can’t find this the brand. I suggest you use bread flour. If you live in the USA, I will not recommend all-purpose flour because it doesn’t work as good, it acts more like cake flour. I have tried all-purpose flour in China and Ecuador. They worked perfectly. But not in USA. I don’t know why.
2. Make the Filling
To make the pork and sour cabbage filling, you will need some sour cabbage. Dice it finely.
It is basically just pickled cabbage – very popular in north Chinese cuisine. You can buy it in the fridge section at your local Chinese grocery stores. If you don’t have access, that is fine too; you can click here to learn how to make your own as it is super easy and only includes three ingredients. By the way, you can use fresh cabbage if you are not a fan of fermented foods. I do have a dumpling demo video where I used fresh cabbage as the filling. You can click here and check it out.
Next, we will make aromatic water. In the blender cup, add two cloves of garlic, which I roughly diced hem; 1/2 inch of ginger, I roughly chopped it as well; 1 tsp of Sichuan peppercorns, and 5 tbsp of water.
Blend everything into a puree. Let it go through a sieve to get rid of any stubborn bits. Set it aside.
In a big mixing bowl, add 500g of ground pork, 1.5 tbsp of soy sauce, 1 tbsp of oyster sauce, 1 tbsp of Chinese cooking wine, 1 tsp of five-spice powder, and 1 tbsp of sesame oil.
Mix to even out all the seasonings.
Then pour in the aromatic water. Whenever I make the dumplings, I always stir the filling in one direction to develop the texture; today, I will explain why. The 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, there will be some strings appearing. Like here, there. 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.
Add the sour cabbage and diced scallion. I always add the vegetables last because it does make the stirring much more difficult.
Note: homemade sour cabbage and store-bought ones have different levels of saltiness. If this is the first time you are making this recipe, you can cook a tsp of the filling in the microwave and taste to adjust the flavor. I have made this many times so I know the flavor is good.
3. Wrap the Dumplings
The dough has been rested for 40 minutes. For the white dough, you just roll it into a 20 inches long log. Make sure it is even. This will take some patience.
For the green dough, roll it into a long rectangle sheet. This requires even more patience because it is not easy to make a perfect rectangle. You can adjust the 4 corners make them more pointy. The length should match the white dough log. Another tip for you is to roll the length of the rectangle thinner so when you combine these 2 edges together, it won’t be double the thickness.
Lightly wet your hand and tap the rectangle sheets to give it a little moisture. Place the white log right in the middle.
Wrap it tightly. Try not to rape any air but if you did, it is not a big problem. You can get rid of the bubbles while rolling the dumpling wrappers.
Pinch the edge to close it.
Roll it thinner and longer. If it gets longer than your working surface, you can just split it right in the middle. Continue to work on it until it becomes long enough for you to divide each log into 25 pieces. Because this recipe is enough to make about 50 dumplings. Each dough should be about 17-18 grams. You can use a scale if you have OCD. I am just gonna go with my eyes.
Lightly dust some flour to prevent stickiness. Cover all the pieces with a slightly damp towel so they don’t get dry.
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 round wrapper with a thick middle and a thin edge. The diameter is about 3 inches.
Put some filling in the middle of the wrapper. Use both of your thumbs and forefingers to stretch the wrapper, then fold that in half. Pinch the edge together and squeeze the dumpling with the hollow of your palm. That’s it. Fast and easy. Look at how lovely they are. The green top represents the leafy part of the cabbage, and the white bottom is the stem.
As I mentioned before, the Chinese pronunciation of cabbage is Bai Cai, it sounds similar to “百财,” which means a hundred treasures. That’s why a lot of people will put a cabbage ornament in their office in hope that the business will go well.
4. Boil the dumplings
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Use a spatula to swirl the water to create a cyclone. Then put the dumplings in. This way, the dumplings will flow with the water instead of sinking to the bottom directly. Otherwise they will stick to the bottom and loss a part of the skin. Trust me, you do not want broken dumplings.
The temperature of the pot will drop instantly; you just keep the heat at medium. Continue to swirl the water to move the dumplings.
In a couple of minutes, it should come back to a simmer. Add 1/2 cup of cold water to drop the temperature. Wait for it to come back to a simmer again. This time, all the dumplings should float to the top of water. We will add another 1/2 cup of cold water to drop the temperature.
This process is called Dian Leng Shui (点冷水). It helps you to keep the temperature below the boiling point. If the water is boiling the whole time, the moisture inside the dumplings will evaporate fast and the wrapper will inflate like a balloon. The dumpling skin might be broken due to the expansion. Depending on the size of your dumplings, we will add cold water once or twice. These are big fatties; that is why I did it twice. If you are cooking some small wontons, you only need to add water once. Fish them out. Put them on the plate. For the dipping sauce, you can click here to check out my 6 delicious dumpling sauce video and pick your favorite one.
The sour cabbage adds some fermented touch to the filling which balances the taste really well, and it is super juicy. The skin is nice and firm. The most satisfying part is that – regular dumplings are 1 bite. These are 3 bite-size.
If you made more than what you can eat, don’t worry. Dumplings are freezer-friendly. You just put them in a container and leave some space between each other. Pop them in the fridge. Whenever you want to eat them again. Don’t even need to defrost. Just directly boil them.
In China, making dumplings is more like a family event. I make the dough, you mix the filling. Everybody else can help to wrap the dumplings. Time goes fast when we enjoy the moment with each other, so do the dumplings after they are done. I hope you give this a try soon. If you did, leave me a comment and let me know how it goes.