Savory, juicy dumplings, sometimes called water dumplings, are traditionally served on the first day of Chinese New Year. They are shaped like ancient Chinese gold, crescent coins, symbolizing wealth and good luck. Families gather round the table to pitch in and make dozens of the the dumplings. Northern China is so cold, they can be left outdoors to freeze then carried inside and boiled as needed for meals. Napa Cabbage is more moist and tender than regular cabbage. The meat in the dumpling filling should be moist and not too packed.
1 pound ground beef or pork
4 finely minced green onions
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh minced gingerroot
2 minced garlic cloves
2 tablespoons Chinese wine, dry sherry or dry vermouth
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 cup finely chopped napa cabbage
1 pound package round dumpling wrappers
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the cabbage and wrappers; combine ingredients well. Stir in the cabbage. To shape a dumpling, place 1 teaspoon mixture in the center of a wrapper. Moisten the edges with water. Fold wrapper over into a crescent shape, enclosing the filling. Press edges lightly. Stand dumpling on it’s bottom and gently press to flatten slightly.
Pleat edges of the wrapper on one side. Begin at the middle edge, and pleat down the right, front side of the wrapper. Go back to the center and pleat down the left, front side of the wrapper. Press pleated and plain edges together to seal.
If too difficult, simply press unpleated dumpling wrapper edges together tightly to seal. Keep shaped dumplings covered with a clean tea towel to prevent drying. Cook at once. Dumplings can be boiled in ample water, about 1/3 at a time. When dumplings rise in the water, pour in about 1/2 cup cold water to slow down the cooking and allow the filling to cook. When water comes back to a boil and dumplings rise again, quickly remove and cut open a dumpling to make sure the filling is done. If done, remove all the dumplings from water with a Chinese strainer. Drain well. Serve in small individual bowls with dipping sauce. Leftover dumplings can be briefly steamed or dipped into hot water just to reheat.
Dumplings can be frozen. Boil frozen dumplings without thawing. Cooking time might be slightly increased. To pan-fry dumplings (pot-stickers), place dumplings, flat bottom-side down, in a hot nonstick skillet heated with 1 or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. When bottoms are golden, add 1/2 cup water or chicken broth to the pan. Cover immediately and allow dumplings to steam 8 to 10 minutes until the bottoms are golden and the tops translucent. Remove lid and if necesary, cook until bottoms are crispy and water is all evaporated. Arrange dumplings upside-down on a serving plate, golden-sides-up. Serve at once with dipping sauce.
Spicy Dipping Sauce
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar or slightly less red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh gingerroot
1 to 3 teaspoons spicy Asian chili paste, to taste
1 finely minced green onion.
Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl Serve at once. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.