The first time I was introduced to dumpling-making was at my friend Mingzhe Wang’s house about three years ago. Since that night, I must have made dumplings dozens more times in collaboration with various combinations of family and friends. Every time, I end up passing along the recipe to someone; I like to think that those people eventually instruct a few of their friends on it, and that Ming has an exponentially growing army of dumpling disciples. In the hopes of encouraging such growth, here is my transcription of the recipe. It’s pretty labor intensive, so it’s good to split the work up among a large group of hungry people. What I especially like, though, is the flexibility of this recipe— most things in the filling are strictly optional, and you can fool around with the proportions until you reach your personal dumpling nirvana.
1 lb. ground pork, not too lean, plenty fat
1 lb. raw shrimp, all chopped up
shitake mushrooms, chopped fine
a few large leaves Chinese cabbage, shredded real good
scallions or Chinese chives
Dumplings (makes around 100):
3 pkg. Hong Kong-style dumpling wrappers (or make your own)
Peanut or other high-heat cooking oil
Soy sauce (1/3)
Chinese black rice vinegar (2/3)
Chili and/or sesame oil
Fold the dumplings. Put about a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper. Dip your finger in water and run it along the edge of the wrapper. Then fold it in half over the filling, and crimp the edges toward the center.
Heat up a heavy pan (preferably cast iron or non-stick) until it is really hot (to burn off all the residue). Then pour in a small puddle of oil. It should be smoking hot. Put in the dumplings, fairly close together. Don’t move them until they form a crust. Once they have a nice brown crust, pour in about 1⁄4 cup water and cover pan, leaving a small opening for steam to escape. Once water cooks off, flip the dumplings on their sides, make another crust, serve and devour. Hot. With the sauce. And a Cold One.