Trust me when I say, these pan-fried pork dumplings with cabbage and asian chives are better than your average takeout potstickers! The filling is tender and juicy while the bottoms are crispy. Whether you eat them on their own, dip them in our soy and vinegar dumpling sauce, or dress them with some chili oil, you'll love them!
Growing up helping at my parents' Chinese takeout restaurant, I've eaten way more than my fair share of takeout dumplings and potstickers. They were good, but honestly, my mom's dumplings were way better.
Luckily for us, Mom makes her dumplings a few times a year. But we always looked forward to Lunar New Year because that is the one holiday we are guaranteed all of our favorite foods. Mom would make her famous dumplings and other auspicious dishes like whole steamed fish with ginger and scallion for prosperity and glutinous rice balls (tang yuan) for happiness and a complete family.
Today, we are sharing this pan-fried pork dumpling recipe, adapted from my mom, so that you can also make dumplings at home even better than takeout.
- Asian chives - These chives are also known as garlic chives. They have a very fragrant smell and taste like garlic. Although they are a major flavor profile in this recipe, you can totally omit them if they are not available in your area. Instead, substitute them with regular sliced green onions.
- Ground pork - Sometimes ground pork can be out of stock at our grocery stores. For those occasions, we like to pick up a slab or pork belly and some lean pork chop instead. We chop up 2 parts pork belly to 1 part lean pork chop to make our own ground pork. You could use a meat grinder instead of chopping by hand.
- Shaoxing rice wine - A great ingredient to add flavor and aroma, especial for pork dishes. This is usually located at or around the soy sauce aisle, but if you can't find it you could substitute it for 1 part water to 1 part dry/ cooking sherry. You could also omit it all together.
1. Use ground pork with at least 20% fat. Having enough fat in the ground pork is essential for juicy, tender dumpling filling. It'll also give more flavors to the vegetables, making the dumpling more fragrant. If your grocery stores only carry leaner ground pork, you can grind/ food process some fatty pork belly (without the skin) and add it to your ground pork.
2. Add a small amount of water to the filling. This is a MUST tip from my mom. When the water is added with some vigorous mixing, the ground pork will absorb the water and release it when it's cooked. This results in juicy dumplings, even if you ground pork is on the leaner side. You could also use stock or broth instead.
3. Let the dumpling wrapper warm up before using. If you are using pre-made dumpling wrapper, do let the wrapper completely thaw and warm up slightly on your kitchen counter before using. This will allow the dough to become more pliable and easier to pleat. Without our go-to wrapper band, we usually let ours dumpling wrappers sit out for about 30 minutes.
4. Keep the dumplings covered. It is crucial that you keep both the finished dumplings and the dumpling wrappers covered to prevent the dumpling skin from drying and hardening. Dried dumpling wrappers will crack and break when used, and when cooked, the texture will be a little bit tougher and chewier.
How to store and freeze dumplings
Any cooked dumplings can be stored in the fridge and reheated up to 3 days for best flavor and texture. Just make sure to properly wrap them or store them in airtight containers.
For any uncooked dumplings, they freezer amazingly! You can cook them straight from the freezer, no need to defrost. Just increase the cooking time for a few minutes.
To freeze uncooked dumplings:
- Line a sheet pan or freezer safe plateware with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Arrange the dumplings on the sheet pan without touching each other.
- Freeze the dumplings for 1-2 hours, or until they are completely frozen.
- Transfer the dumplings into resealable bags or airtight containers.
- Freeze up to 2 months for best flavor and texture.
Step by step dumpling pleating method:
This method pleats the dumpling form one direction to the other, also known as the one directional pleat. It's very beginner friendly, and one of our favorite pleating methods!
1. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling on the center of the wrapper and lightly dab some water along the edges of the entire wrapper. *As you get more practice pleating dumplings, you can add more filling to your dumpling.*
2. Fold the wrapper in half like a taco and pinch one end of the wrapper to seal. That is where you will start pleating. Using your forefingers, make a backward "s," then pinch and seal. Repeat this motion all the way across the dumpling. Some people prefer using their thumbs instead, so feel free to find what's comfortable for you.
3. At the end of the pleat, simply pinch the wrapper together to seal the dumpling. Try to leave spaces in the dumpling to prevent air bubbles. Air bubbles will expand when the dumplings are cooking and can break the seal.
4. Lastly, as a precaution, I like to go back over the pleats and give the folds an extra pinch to make sure the filling is sealed. This will prevent our juicy filling from leaking and losing flavor.
Alternative cooking methods:
- Steamed: Arrange the dumplings in a steam basket, lined with either cabbage leaves or perforated parchment circles. Place the basket over boiling water and steam the dumplings for about 8 minutes, or until the interior is hot.
- Boiled: Gently drop the dumplings into a pot of boiling water (over medium high heat) and give it a couple of stirs. Bring the water back up to a boil and the dumplings float to the top. Add ½ cup of cold water to the dumplings and bring it back to a boil. Repeat this step 2-3 more times or until the dumplings are completely cooked. It usually only takes us 6-8 minutes to cook the dumplings.
- Deep fried: In a deep fryer or frying pan with about 3 inches of frying oil, heat oil to 350°F. Carefully drop the dumplings into the oil and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until the outside is golden brown and the filling is cooked.
You can pan-fry frozen dumplings the same as freshly made dumplings. They will take few minutes longer to cook but don't defrost them before cooking. Add them straight into the pan while they are frozen like cooking fresh dumplings.
Using our pan-frying method, freshly made dumplings takes about 5 to 6 minutes. For frozen dumplings, it'll take a few minutes longer, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Pan-fried dumplings are best enjoyed fresh, but if you have leftovers, we find that this is the best way to reheat and revive the crispy bottoms:
1. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat.
2. Add the dumplings, fried side down. Make sure to not overcrowd the pan.
3. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of water to the pan and cover with lid. Steam for 1 to 2 minutes, then uncover.
4. Let any remaining water completely evaporate and enjoy while the dumplings are hot.
The main different between the three is that dumpling and potsticker are Chinese, and gyoza is Japanese pan-fried dumplings. In addition, potsticker (guotie - 锅贴) is a form of dumpling that is pan-fried. In the northern provinces of China, potsticker fillings are sometimes not completely wrapped with dumpling skin. Instead, the ends are open.
Cook with love!
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Pan-Fried Pork Dumplings with Cabbage
For the dumpling:
- ¾ pound ground pork
- 3.5 ounce cabbage , finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2.5 ounce Asian chives ,sliced (or green onion; about ¾ cup)
- 3 Tablespoons water
- 2½ Tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 Tablespoon Shaoxing cooking wine
- 1 Tablespoon ginger , peeled and minced (about 1½ inch knob)
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- ¾ teaspoon Kosher salt ,or to taste (if using fine salt, reduce to ½ tsp)
- 40 piece round dumpling wrapper
For the dumpling sauce:
For cooking the dumplings (about 12-15 at a time):
- 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil , or any neutral oil
- ½ cup water
- For the dumpling sauce:Drizzle the oil to a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the pan from heat then add the remaining ingredients. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and set aside until needed.*If the sauce is too pungent for you, add 1-2 tablespoon of water to dillute the sauce to your preference.*
- For the filling:Combine all of the ingredients for the filling into a mixing bowl and vigorously stir for a few minutes until everything is well incorporated and the filling looks more binded and paste-like. Cover and let rest for about 15 minutes or until needed.
- Assembling the dumplings:Prepare a small bowl or ramekin with water.
- Place about 1 to 1½ Tablespoons of filling in the wrapper and dab water all around the edges of the wrapper. Fold the dumpling wrapper in half like a taco and seal the dumpling. You can seal the dumplings by pleating the wrapper or just pinch the edges tightly to bind. Cover finished dumplings with a clean towel and repeat with remaining filling and wrappers.*Refer to the post for step by step photo of an easy dumpling pleat method.*
- Pan-fry the dumplings:Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Arrange the dumplings in the pan without overcrowding. We usually cook the dumplings in batches of 12 to 15 dumplings per pan.
- Immediately, add ½ cup of water to the dumplings and cover with a lid. Let the dumplings steam for about 6 minutes, or until the water is evaporated. Uncover the lid and let the dumplings cook for another minute or two until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy. Repeat with the remaining dumplings or freeze the dumplings for later. *Refer to the post for dumpling freezing tips!*
- Serve:Enjoy these pan-fried dumplings while their hot! They're great on their own, dipped in the dumpling sauce, or drizzled with chili oil.
- We recommend using ground pork with at least 20% fat, as it'll produce juicer dumplings and tender filling.
- Water is added to the filling to make the filling juicier. As you mix the filling, the water will get easily absorbed into the ground pork.