Mom's Dumplings


My family is northern Chinese, so growing up, we had dumplings just about once a week. Throughout the week, I'd heat them up in the microwave, or my mom would pan-fry them. They were a constant in our fridge, and I never got sick of them. 

Every Chinese family has their own dumpling recipe, but I am convinced that my mom's dumplings are the best. They are meaty from the pork, briny from the shrimp, umami from the oyster sauce, and juicy from napa cabbage. Despite this, I've never been able to get my own dumplings just right. Because my mom never measures things and just adds a little bit of this and a little bit of that to taste, it's exceedingly hard to get a recipe out of her. 

Determined to make dumplings that tasted like hers, I wrote down a list of the ingredients she uses and my eyeballed approximate "measurements." Then I looked up dumpling recipes from 10 different Chinese food blogs and made an Excel sheet to more accurately narrow down the real measurements. I'm happy to report that the crowd-sourced reverse-engineered technique worked. The last time I made dumplings, my husband happily declared that these tasted just like my mom's. 

So without further ado, here is my interpretation of my mom's dumpling recipe. My only word of caution is to adjust the amount of salt to your taste. I like my food on the saltier side, so I tend towards 1 tsp of salt, but start out at 3/4 tsp and try it before stuffing your dumplings. I take a tiny bit of the filling, microwave it for 15 seconds on a plate, then taste it. Keep in mind that even if the filling is a bit too salty now, after being wrapped in dough and boiled, it will be just right. 

My Mom's Dumplings

  • 1 to 1 1/4 lbs ground pork
  • 1/2 lb shrimp, finely chopped
  • 4 leaves Napa cabbage, finely chopped
  • 2 large scallions, chopped
  • 2-inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 1/4 tsp brown pepper
  • 4 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3/4 - 1 tsp salt
  • 2 packs dumplings wrappers
  • Water, for moistening wrappers

  1. Mix ground pork, shrimp, cabbage, scallions, ginger, brown pepper, Shaoxing wine, oyster sauce, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and salt in a large bowl. Season to taste (microwave small amount of filling to taste it). 
  2. Holding a dumpling wrapper in your palm, scoop about 1 tbsp of filling into the center. Moisten the edge with water using your finger and pinch the edges together, pleating the edges as you go. Repeat with the rest of the dumpling filling and dumplings wrappers until you run out of filling. 
  3. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Carefully add about 20-25 dumplings to the pot, two at a time, being careful not to splash yourself. As soon as you add them to the pot, stir the water gently with a large spoon/ladle to prevent dumplings from sticking to the bottom of the pot (I usually have my husband help me with this part).
  4. Cook the dumplings until they float to the top and puff up, about 5-6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cooked dumplings to a plate and eat immediately. I like eating them plain, while my parents enjoy them with soy sauce and rice vinegar. 
  5. Continue cooking the rest of the dumplings until all are boiled. 

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