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Pleat, eat, repeat: three Lunar New Year dumpling recipes from Rosheen Kaul | Australian food and drink

my family celebrates the Lunar New Year in the Singaporean-Chinese tradition. And like many celebration cultures, the focus is on the dinner table. On the menu: whole steamed fish, yee sang 魚生 (prosperity salad), long-lived noodles, braised pork belly, abalone, and fried New Year’s cake, along with more regional delights. Each dish symbolizes health, prosperity or happiness.

Dumplings play a prominent role in Chinese celebrations because they look like money bags and eating them is said to bring wealth. Making dumplings is a great way to bring family together, and the communal rolling, stuffing and folding – and eating – is a delicious way to welcome in the new year.

Of course, any time of year is a good time for dumplings. Gong xi fa cai!

A hand holding a pair of black chopsticks and a cooked dumpling drizzled with spicy dressing.
They are commonly eaten during the Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinese tradition, but any time of year is a good time for dumplings. Photo: Dave Tacon/The Guardian

蛋饺 Dan jiao (New Year’s Egg Balls in Broth)

An egg-wrapped omelette is scooped into a bowl.
One dan jiao consists of a succulent filling of pork and chives, packed in a mini omelette wrapper. Photo: Dave Tacon/The Guardian

Dan jiao are commonly found on Lunar New Year banquet tables in the southern regions of China. The gold crescents are considered lucky because of their resemblance to gold bars. Instead of wheat flour wrappers, a small omelette encases a succulent filling of pork and chives.

Making these dumplings is a delicate process, but worth every tender, savory bite. The egg wrapper absorbs the juices from the meat filling during cooking, and the dumplings swell with flavor, enriching the broth in which they are served.

The technique for making the wrappers varies, from egg mixture in a hot ladle rubbed with ginger, to cooking in the center of a wok over low heat. I’ve found success using a small non-stick skillet and a thin rubber spatula to lift the edges of the egg wrapper over itself. Once you get the hang of it, they come together quickly and easily.

A hand spooning an egg-wrapped dumpling into a bowl.
Making dan jiao is a delicate process, but worth every bite. Photo: Dave Tacon/The Guardian

To prepare 15 minutes
Cook 25 minutes
Serves 2-4

For the filling
250 grams minced pork
100 g garlic chives
finely chopped and coated with 1 tbsp vegetable oil
20g gingergrated
1 egg
½ tsp ground white pepper
3 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

For the egg packs
6 eggs
1 tbsp cornstarch
2 teaspoons of water
Oil with neutral taste
to fry

For the broth
1 liter seasoned chicken broth
2 small bunches of leafy green vegetables
such as wombok, bok choy, gai lan
Soy sauce, sliced ​​spring onions and sesame oilto serve

For the filling, place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir vigorously. Continue to stir and work the mixture until it is well blended and resembles a smooth paste. Let marinate for 30 minutes.

To make the egg wraps, beat the eggs, cornstarch and water well and set aside. In a non-stick frying pan, heat a small amount of oil over medium heat. Carefully spoon two tablespoons of the egg mixture into the pan to form a picket-sized circle. When the bottom is cooked but the top is still cooked, scoop a teaspoon of the filling into the center of the circle and use a spatula to fold the egg over it. Gently press the edges to seal. Slide onto a plate and repeat with remaining egg mixture and filling. Note: The dumpling filling is still raw at this point.

Bring the stock to a boil in a large saucepan and add the dumplings. Bring to a simmer and add green leafy vegetables. The dumplings are ready when they float to the top.

Divide the dumplings and vegetables into serving bowls, pour over the stock and garnish with soy sauce, spring onions and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Green chili and pork guō tiē 鍋貼 (pot stickers) with crispy skirt

Close-up view of fried pork dumplings with a crispy side on a floral plate.
Lattice appreciates Rosheen Kaul’s green chili and pork guō tiē with crispy skirt. Photo: Dave Tacon/The Guardian

These guō tiē (pot stickers) were a recent discovery from my sister’s fridge and they have quickly become one of my favorite dumpling fillings. The green peppers give less spice or zest, and more of a vegetable flavor. Paired with Sichuan peppercorns and a pinch of coriander, they are simply delicious. The dumplings are steam-cooked in a slurry of cornstarch and vinegar, resulting in silky, springy dumplings with a lacy golden crust. A pan with a non-stick coating is absolutely essential for this.

I’ve provided a recipe to make your own dumpling wrappers, but feel free to use store-bought white gyoza wrappers instead. Wonton wrappers won’t work – they’re too thin for pancakes and won’t stand up to this method of cooking.

To prepare 30 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
makes 50-60 dumplings

For the dumpling skins
(This recipe was originally published in Chinese-ishthe book I co-wrote with Joanna Hu)
400 g of flour
240 grams of water
4g salt

For the filling
20 g Sichuan peppercorns, whole
120ml hot water
1 tablespoon of neutral-flavored oil
such as vegetable oil
20g gingergrated
100 g long green pepperspitted and finely chopped
500 grams minced pork
50g coriander
finely sliced
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 tbsp soy sauce
3 tsp oyster sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 egg

For the crispy skirt
1 tsp cornstarch
½ tsp flour
½ tsp white vinegar
(can be replaced with rice vinegar or white wine vinegar)
100ml water

To serve
Soy sauce
Chinkiang black vinegar
Chili oil

To make the dumpling sheets: Combine all ingredients and mix by hand or with a stand mixer until a smooth dough forms. Let rest for 15-20 minutes before rolling out the dough into a long tube about 3-4 cm in diameter. To make one wrapper, cut a piece of dough 1-2 cm wide. The technique here is to swirl the dough with one hand while working the rolling pin with the other, rolling outward to flatten the dough on a floured work surface. You are aiming for a round shape with a thickness of a few millimeters, but anything more elongated or rectangular will work. Cover the dumpling wrap with a damp tea towel to prevent it from drying out. Repeat with remaining dough to make 50-60 wrappers.

To make the filling: Soak the peppercorns in 120 ml of hot water to infuse the flavour. Let cool and then strain. Keep the water and discard the peppercorns.

Heat oil in a medium skillet until smoking. Sauté the ginger and green chillies for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, combine the minced pork and the ginger-chili mixture. Gradually add the peppercorn-infused water and continue to combine until the mixture resembles a smooth paste. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Check the taste by pan-frying or microwaving a small amount of the mixture and adjusting to suit your taste if necessary.

To fold the dumplings: If you’re using store-bought wrappers, you’ll need a bowl of water. Wet your index finger to seal the edges of the wrappers. If you’re using your own homemade wrappers, this isn’t necessary – the dough will still be pliable and close itself by squeezing.

Place the wrapper on a floured surface. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center, pull up the sides of the sheet and pinch closed. You can get fancy with pleats, if you want. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.

To cook the dumplings: In a large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tbsp oil over medium heat. Arrange 8-10 dumplings in the pan and cook until the bottoms turn light brown.

For the crispy skirt: Whisk the cornstarch, flour, vinegar and water together well, pour a thin layer into the pan and cover tightly with a lid. Cook with steam for about 5-6 minutes, then remove the lid and continue cooking until all the liquid has evaporated and a crispy, golden-brown skirt forms. Invert a plate over the frying pan and flip the dumplings onto the plate in one quick movement (be careful: the pan will get hot!). Repeat the cooking process with the remaining dumplings, beating the slurry mixture between batches. Serve with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, black vinegar and chili oil.

Spicy mackerel, lemon and dill shui jiao 水饺

A plate of cooked fish dumplings with a spicy dressing on a floury plate.  spicy mackerel, lemon and dill shui jiao.
Rosheen Kaul’s spicy mackerel, lemon and dill shui jiao. Photo: Dave Tacon/The Guardian

To prepare 30 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
makes 50-60 dumplings

500 g Spanish mackerel meatbones and skin removed
100 grams of shrimp meatcoarsely chopped
50g garlic chivesfinely chopped and mixed with 1 tsp vegetable oil
50g dillfinely sliced
100ml Shaoxing wine
4 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce

1 lemon, seasoned
20g ginger, finely sliced
½ tsp white pepper powder
White dumpling wrappers (like gyoza wrappers)

For the spicy dressing
2 bird’s eye peppers
thin sliced
1 stalk of spring onionthin sliced
2 tbsp Chinkiang black vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp chilli oil
¼ tsp sugar

Puree the fish in the bowl of a food processor to a smooth paste and transfer to a larger mixing bowl. Combine with the rest of the ingredients and stir vigorously to combine. Let marinate for 20-30 minutes. Fill the dumplings (see green chili and pork guō tiē recipe above) and set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Add the dumplings, taking care not to overcrowd the pan (choose a large pan helps). Stir with chopsticks or a sieve so that they do not stick together. Bring the water to a boil. Add a cup of cold water, bring back to a boil and simmer until the dumplings float to the surface. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.

Meanwhile, while the dumplings are cooking, make the spicy dressing. Combine all ingredients.

Arrange the dumplings in a shallow serving dish and spoon over the dressing. Serve immediately.