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Recipe(s): Guide to Dumplings, from scratch - many fillings, many cooking methods (showing 猪肉大葱, 牛肉茴香, 韭菜鸡蛋)

So we wanted to show you how to make dumplings in the Northern Chinese style – from scratch.

Now, dumplings are one of those things that’re really more of a category than a dish itself: walk into a dumpling shop in China, and there’ll be an absolute myriad of fillings that you could choose from. And at many restaurants, you can opt for any of those dumplings to be boiled, steamed, or pan-fried.

So this post is a touch on the ambitious side. What I’d like to do is generalize the idea of how to go about making dumplings so that you have a framework to play around with it. Of course, the question of ‘how to make dumplings’ is kind of akin to ‘how to make sandwiches’… where do you even begin? Something all-encompassing would be better suited in a textbook than a reddit post. But against my better judgement, I’ll charge forward here, undoubtedly overgeneralizing along the way. So apologies in advance.

Video is here if you’d like a visual to follow along. In the video, we go over how to make the wrappers, three fillings (Pork with Leek, Beef with Common Fennel, and Egg with Jiucai), and how to wrap and boil those. We’ll cover all that here too, but with a bit more background on some of the underlying techniques.

How to Make Dumpling Wrappers

So if you got access to a Chinese supermarket, you can usually swoop in and buy a big ‘ol pack of dumpling wrappers. If they’re so easy to buy, why the hell would you make them yourself?

The thing is that dumpling wrappers aren’t, say, like puff pastry where the store bought stuff works just as well. Think of it more like, I don’t know, pre-minced garlic? They work in the sense that everything works, but there’s an obvious and marked quality difference between store bought and homemade.

First problem with store bought is that they’re usually rather dry. In an ideal world, there shouldn’t be munch of a lag between the time you roll out the skins and when you wrap the dumpling. Second problem is that the store bought ones are usually machine rolled – not too much of an issue for something like wontons, but for dumplings it’s quite important for the inner portion of the dumpling wrapper to be a bit thicker than the outside. This not only makes the dumpling easier to wrap, but also allows you to hold a greater quantity of filling without the dumpling potentially breaking on you.

I get that they’re helpful if you’re feeling lazy, no judgement there. But try to make the wrappers if you can.

Ingredients, Dumpling Wrappers:

  1. Dumpling-flour -or- a lower protein bread flour -or- a mix of all purpose flour and higher protein bread flour, 500g. So if you’ve got access to dumpling flour, great, use that. If not, take a look at your flour’s protein content. Our dumpling flour clocks in at 12.8%. If you use the King Arthur brand, their bread flour is 12.7%, so that’d work just as well. Some bread flours can get up to 14% protein, so if you’re working with something heftier like that it’d probably be best to mix in a bit of AP. E.g. if you have 14% bread flour and 10% all purpose flour, mix 70% bread flour with 30% AP to arrive at something like dumpling flour.

  2. Salt, ½ tsp. Helps develop the gluten in the dough.

  3. Egg, 1 medium. Helps make the dough a bit softer and easier to roll.

  4. Hot, Boiled Water, 200g. Right, so dumpling wrappers are a hot water dough. The hot water slightly cooks the gluten in the dough, making the whole thing stretchier for when you’re filling the dumplings.

Process, Dumpling Wrappers:

  1. Mix together the flour, the salt, and the egg. I used a stand mixer in the video, but you can absolutely do all this by hand.

  2. Slowly drizzle in the hot water, making sure that all the flour gets some. If you’re using a stand mixer like me, this step’s dirt easy. Speed one with the hook attachment, drizzle in the water bit by bit, making sure you get all the sides. If you’re kneading by hand, drizzle in the hot water and mix it in with some chopsticks (there’s a good visual for that at 0:46 in our scallion video.

  3. Knead -or- use a stand mixer on speed one for ~8 minutes until a smooth dough forms. It’ll be smooth when it’s no longer sticking to the sides of the mixing bowl.

  4. Place in a plastic bag and let rest for at least a half hour, and up to overnight. To relax the gluten in the dough. We’ve found that a plastic bag keeps the dough much moister than the cover-with-a-wet-towel method.

  5. Punch a hole in the dough, and get it into a sort of ‘monster-sized Montreal bagel’ shape. Then tear, and roll it a touch thinner. So the whole idea of getting the dough into a big ring is to basically just get it into a really even round log. If you’re weighing each dumpling skin it’s less imperative, but it still gets you a good starting point for the dumpling skin.

  6. Cut the dough into 15g pieces, twisting the dough 90 degrees after each cut to help maintain a circular shape. If you don’t twist, by the end your pieces will be more ‘ovular’ than circular due to the force of the knife. Also, note that in the video we used 20g pieces - 20g makes for a rather large dumpling. We were aiming for the style you can get in Beijing where the dumplings are like these massive ping-pong balls. Most dumpling shops I’ve eaten at are about 10-15g per skin. If you’d like a smaller dumpling, please feel free to go that route; if you wanna go with the 20g ones we did in the video, that's great too. The advantage of the bigger dumplings is a larger ratio of filling to skin, the disadvantage is that they’re only ‘bite-sized’ for the determined (though if you’re American, you probably got enough practice with large burgers/sandwiches to do the job).

  7. Press down on the pieces with your palm to slightly flatten them. Gives you a starting place to roll them into a round shape. If you’re having trouble getting the skins round, you can also slightly roll them from the center out once in each direction.

  8. Starting with the rolling pin on the board, roll inward, then add a little force for when you’re rolling things back out. Twist around the dumpling skin. Rolling stuff’s always a bit difficult to describe in writing, so take a look at 3:45 in the video for a visual of this whole process. The whole idea here is that we’ll want the center of the dumpling skin to be slightly thicker than the outside – the filling will rest on the center (so it’ll need to be a bit sturdier), and you’ll want a thinner edge in order to pleat/seal everything up.

From here, it’s best if you immediately wrap up your dumplings. If you’re not interested in learning the fillings, jump down to ‘how to wrap dumplings’.

How to Make Meat Fillings

So what I hope you can take away from this post is a basic formula for how to approach your fillings. We’ll toss out two tested recipes, both of which are pretty classic at dumpling joints – pork with leek, and beef with common fennel.

But don’t let that dissuade you from trying different things out. There’s a ton of different combinations that’re popular – take a look at this menu from a dumpling joint in Beijing. There’s everything from lamb with leek to pork with pickled cabbage. Wanna see if beef with tarragon works? Why not! One you have the basic approach down, there’s a million different directions you can go with this.

As always, quick reminder that there’s more than one way to skin this cat. If you already know how to make dumplings and this contradicts a tried-and-true approach you already know, stick with what you know. For something as widespread as dumplings, there can be a bunch of variation from region to region, household to household, and dish to dish. This is simple our best shot at a generalization based off what we know:

Basic Ratios:

  1. By weight, 9/10 of your filling will be meat and fats, and 1/10 of the filling with be whatever accoutrement you’re added in. This ratio is extremely flexible, I often add more stuff in.

  2. By weight, 2/3 of the meat will be lean and 1/3 will be the ‘fats’.

  3. By weight, 2/3 of the ‘fats’ will be animal fat and 1/3 will be a seasoned oil mixture.

  4. The seasoned oil mixture can contain pretty much whatever you like. We fried leek, star anise, and fennel in peanut oil. The animal fat will be finely diced and added in later.

  5. The lean will be chopped by hand into a paste-like consistency. Pre-minced meat can work but it can be a bit more finicky.

  6. You’ll season the lean and stir it. Seasoning is really up to you – the only mandatory bit is salt. We used salt, sugar, chicken boullion, white pepper, liaojiu (i.e. Shaoxing wine), and soy sauce. Note in place of that seasoned oil, many people opt to simply add spices straight to the meat (usually five spice powder, thirteen spice powder, or specially-sold dumpling seasoning mixes) – you can go that route too, but we feel the spices are a bit more mellow and less in-your-face with the seasoned oil.

  7. Stir it in one direction only to develop the myocin in the meat, making it a more uniform whole. A big issue in some homemade dumplings from inexperienced cooks is that the meat is far too loose – the goal is something cohesive, not ‘hamburger helper in a dumpling’.

  8. Add in a seasoned water mixture while stirring, a tablespoon at a time. The seasoned water will be roughly the same quantity as your seasoned oil. For the seasoned water, we opted for some pounded ginger and a touch of Sichuan peppercorn mixed with hot, boiled water. Some restaurants use stock in place of water. Some households use plain ‘ol water, and just add minced ginger to the filling.

  9. Once the filling is sticky enough where you can see streaks on the side of the bowl, fold in the accoutrement, the diced fat, and the seasoned oil.

So that’s the general idea. From that framework you can start to play around and experiment with whatever you want to cook. We’ll start off with the pork and leek filling here, apologies in advance when I inevitably repeat myself a bit. The way I’ll organize this is go over the ingredients for the pork first, then the beef, and finally the process (which’s basically the same for both).

Ingredients, Pork with Leek:

  1. Pork ham (后腿肉) -or- belly (五花肉), 315g lean; 135g fat. So we use the cut of pork called the ‘ham’, which’s from the butt of the pig. It’s a nice cut to use for this because it’s really easy to separate the lean from the fat. Pork belly works great too, it’s just a bit more of a pain to cut.

  2. Leek (大葱), 1. A few slices saved for the seasoned oil, the remainder minced.

  3. Seasoned oil: Peanut oil (花生油), 6 tbsp; Leek (大葱), ~6 slices or so from before; Star Anise (八角), 4; fennel seed (茴香籽), 1 tbsp. These’ll be fried in the peanut oil and then strained.

  4. Seasoned water: Hot, Boiled Water, 6 tbsp; Ginger (姜), ~1.5 inches; Sichuan peppercorn (花椒), ~1/2 tsp. So the burning question – why put the ginger and Sichuan peppercorn in the water instead of the oil? While Sichuan peppercorn’s famous for its numbing quality, it’s also got a nice floral taste to it too. The flavonoids that cause the numbing sensation aren’t water soluble, so if you want the flavor of the peppercorns instead of the numbingness, using this sort of Sichuan peppercorn water’s the way to go. For the ginger, we’re using ginger-water primarily as a replacement for adding minced ginger into the mix – ginger-water has that same sort of raw ginger ‘spiciness’ but with the benefit of not having chunks of ginger in your filling.

  5. Seasoning: salt, 1 tsp; sugar, 1 tsp; chicken boullion powder (鸡粉), ½ tsp; white pepper powder (白胡椒粉), ¼ tsp; liaojiu a.k.a. Shaoxing wine (料酒), ½ tbsp; light soy sauce (生抽), 1 tbsp. If you don’t want to use chicken boullion powder, you could swap it for a sprinkle of MSG or skip it.

Ingredients, Beef with Common Fennel:

Ok, now with beef we’re breaking some of the rules we set out earlier regarding hand mincing and separating out the lean from the fat. Why? The fat’s much too interspersed within the meat, and beef’s a good bit tougher than pork is.

So after a few tries, I broke down and had my butcher grind it up for me. I suppose that’s alright in the end though, because now I get to talk about how you’d go about working with pre-ground meat.

For your ground meat… with the approach that we’re going with here (separating out the lean and fat), the leaner the better. As anyone that’s ever cooked a burger over charcoal knows, the fat in ground beef melts really easily – the fattier your ground beef, the greasier the dumpling’ll feel in the end. For us, we were using some ground beef that was around ~20 percent fat in the video. That made a final product that was tasty but a little oily in my personal opinion. So opt for something leaner if it’s an option. Hell, I’d even recommend those 96/4 blends you guys got abroad if I wasn’t so skeptical of the how they processed them.

So your ground meat to diced fat ratio will change depending on how fatty your beef is:

  • 90/10: 350g ground beef, 100g beef fat
  • 85/15: 370g ground beef, 80g beef fat
  • 80/20: 400g ground beef, 50g beef fat
  1. Ground beef brisket (胸口肉) -or- top sirloin (肥牛) -or- chuck (上脑), quantities as above. So the two cuts that are used most often for dumpling fillings are called ‘xiongkourou’ and ‘feiniu’ –I’ll be totally straight with you, Chinese cuts are a bit different and I’ve had a devil of a time translating those two. In the video we used ‘xiongkourou’, which I erroneously translated as ‘chuck’ in my narration. Whoops. From what I can tell, ‘feiniu’ can refer to a few cuts… but is generally a fatty cut that’s from right below the tenderloin, so I’m 90% sure that’s top sirloin. Regardless, you could use almost any cut you’d like – a buddy of mine even uses shank.

  2. Beef fat (牛油) -or- pork fat (猪板油), quantities as above. So outside of Muslim areas of China, they’ll often use pork fat in these sorts of dumplings. Either works great, we used beef fat to keep everything kosher.

  3. Common fennel (茴香) -or- dill, ~50g. So the fennel that’s used is these is ‘common fennel’, not the bulb fennel that’s often used in the West. Not sure how easy it is to source this. Dill’s a touch stronger of a taste but hits many of the same notes – if you were interested in replicating this but didn’t have a way to source common fennel (ironic name, no?), I’d personally try dill. Quick note that that 50g is the amount after picking the fennel – a huge chunk of the weight comes from the stems, so you’d likely need to buy ~150g to get to that amount.

  4. Seasoned oil: Peanut oil (花生油), 6 tbsp; Leek (大葱), ~6 slices or so from before; Star Anise (八角), 4; fennel seed (茴香籽), 1 tbsp. Same as above.

  5. Seasoned water: Hot, Boiled Water, 6 tbsp; Ginger (姜), ~1.5 inches; Sichuan peppercorn (花椒), ~1/2 tsp. Same as above.

  6. Seasoning: salt, 1 tsp; sugar, 1 tsp; chicken boullion powder (鸡粉), ½ tsp; white pepper powder (白胡椒粉), ¼ tsp; liaojiu a.k.a. Shaoxing wine (料酒), ½ tbsp; light soy sauce (生抽), 1 tbsp. Same as above.

Process, Either meat filling:

  1. Make the seasoned oil. Over medium low heat, fry the leek and the star anise for about two minutes. Then add in the fennel seed, and fry for another two minutes – I toss in the fennel later mostly because I’m paranoid that it’ll burn. Strain out the spices, and set it aside to cool completely.

  2. Make the seasoned water. Smash your ginger in a mortar or a bowl (or, alternatively, you could mince it), then add in the Sichuan peppercorn. Add in the six tablespoons of hot water, then let it infuse for at least 10 minutes. Strain, and set aside to cool completely.

  3. Prep the accountrement. For the pork dumpling, finely mince the leek. For the beef dumpling, pick the leaves off the fennel.

  4. Dice the animal fat. Get the pork or beef fat into a fine dice, and set it aside.

  5. If using meat (i.e. NOT ground meat), get it into chunks and continuously chop it… periodically folding the meat over itself. Be patient with this step. We’re looking for the meat to become a sort of ‘pasty’ whole. Going at this with two cleavers can make quick work of this. If you’re new to mincing by hand, take a look at 2:33 in the video for a visual.

  6. If using ground meat, use the back of a heavy knife to pound it until pasty. This is a primary reason why we usually don’t use ground meat for fillings – it generally doesn’t actually save any time. You’ll still need to pound and fold it, just using the back of the knife in place of the front as it’s already choppped.

  7. Season the meat, and begin to stir. I.e. add in the salt, sugar, chicken bouillon powder, white pepper powder, liaojiu wine, and light soy sauce. Stir in one direction only – you can use your hands, but using chopsticks to stir makes things a bit more obvious to see what’s going on.

  8. Add in the seasoned water one tablespoon at a time, stirring until the meat until it leaves streaks on the side of the bowl. Another thing that you just gotta take your time with. For the pork, this’ll take about five minutes to get where you wanna be. For the beef, because we have some fat already mixed in, it’ll take a bit longer – oil gets in the way of your myocin developing, which’s a big reason why we separated out the fat. Ten minutes of stirring should get you there.

  9. Fold in the accoutrement (i.e. the leek or fennel), the fat dice, and the oil. Then those are ready to wrap.

#How to Make Not-meat fillings

So there’s this whole category of dumpling fillings called ‘Su fillings’ (i.e. ‘素饺子馅’) which I haven’t really found a nice translation for yet. While ‘Su’ can often refer to ‘vegetarian’ in Chinese, it can also refer to something that’s ‘light’ or ‘not a meat dish’. And the latter’s what this kind of filling’s referring to.

While a solid chunk of these sorts of dumpling fillings are vegetarian, many of them use stuff like dried shellfish or oyster sauce. Almost universally in play for the pescatarian crowd out there, however.

Here’s the thing though, they’re bloody difficult to generalize. They can include a combination of anything from smoked bean curd, to fresh shrimp, to mushrooms, to vermicelli rice noodles. And, of course, each of those ingredients has its own variables to consider when prepping. The best I can give is that (1) the ingredients are usually used reconstituted (if a dried ingredient) or fresh, i.e. not pre-fried (though egg’s an outlier there) (2) there’s roughly an equal quantity of each main ingredient in the filling (though I’m using extremely liberal definitions of ‘roughly’ and ‘main ingredient’) and (3) the fresh ingredients are coated with oil, then mixed and seasoned at the last possible second.

So apologies there. The best I can do is give a recipe for one classic kind – Egg with Jiucai (Chinese Chives) – and hope that that gives enough perspective. For some more options, check out this translated link of 20 Not-Meat Dumpling recipes or here for the original link if you can read Chinese or would rather translate directly within Chrome.

Ingredients, Egg with Jiucai Filling

  1. Jiucai a.k.a. Chinese Chives (韭菜), 250g. So Jiucai – a.k.a. Chinese Chives (apologies, I irrationally dislike that translation) are a pungent green that’re probably about halfway between a vegetable and an herb. They go great with egg. We’ll need 250g minced, but when prepping you’ll need to chop off the hard ends… so buy 350g just to be safe.

  2. 4 medium eggs. We’ll be scrambling these.

  3. Optional: 1 tsp liaojiu wine (料酒). To mix in with the eggs and season it before scrambling. I always add a bit in, you don’t have to.

  4. Oil to Coat: 1 tbsp peanut oil (花生油), 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil (麻油). We’ll be using half sesame oil to add a bit more flavor in here.

  5. Optional: ½ tsp baking soda (苏打粉). To mix in with the Jiucai. Helps keep it a nice vibrant green color through cooking.

  6. Seasoning: 1 tsp salt, ½ tsp chicken bouillon powder (鸡粉). We’ll be adding these in at the last possible second.

Process, Eggs with Jiucai:

  1. Chop the hard end off the Jiucai, as well as the brown bits on the other side. Wash, then sit out to dry completely. Jiucai’s often quite dirty/sandy as sold. To wash, soak in water for about 10 minutes, drain the dirty water, then continuously slam the jiucai into a big bowl of water to get any dirt off. Rinse until the water runs clear. Set it aside to dry completely – it’ll take a bit of time (like, hours), so if you’re in a rush opt for a salad spinner.

  2. Crack the eggs, mix in the optional liaojiu wine, then beat. Really beat the snot out of those guys until there’s no strands of egg white remaining.

  3. Scramble the eggs. You can scramble the eggs using any method you want, just add a bit more oil than you usually would. If using a wok, first longyau: i.e. get that wok piping hot, shut off the heat, add in the oil (we used about four tablespoons) and give it a swirl to get a nice non-stick surface. Flame on medium, get the oil up until bubbles begin to form around a pair of chopsticks (about 160C), then pour in your egg. It’ll puff and set, so stir and flip it around… let it set again… stir and flip it around again… continuing the motion until the egg’s ~90% done. Then shut off the heat, give it a good scrambled, and take it out.

  4. Thinly slice the Jiucai, then coat with the oil and baking soda. Slice the Jiucai as thin as you can feasibly get it, then mix with the oil and the baking soda. The reason we’re mixing these in with the veg at first is to form a bit of a ‘protective barrier’ so that the Jiucai won’t release moisture as easily while we’re wrapping them.

  5. As the last possible second before wrapping, mix in the egg, salt, and bouillon powder in with the Jiucai. Salt makes Jiucai weep like crazy, so as soon as you mix that in, the shot clock’s running. Do this after you’ve finished rolling some skins and are about ready to wrap.

How to Wrap Dumplings

Ok, so there’s a bunch of different ways to wrap dumplings. We only did one sort of wrapping in the video – the original, basic sort. It’s the wrapping style that’s usually used at dumpling joints… and to be honest, if you’re boiling dumplings (like we did in the video), it’s probably the best method. It makes for the sturdiest dumpling that’s least likely to break apart when boiling.

If you’d like to fry or (especially) steam your dumplings, the alternative styles give the dumplings much better visual flair. We didn’t include this in our video, so I’ve got two clips for you – first one’s here, which’s in Chinese but has some old Northeastern women showing how it’s done; second one’s here, which’s a Portland restaurant owner from Taiwan explaining them in English.

Also, note that even for this basic style, there’s a few slight variations to the theme. We learned this exact method from a dumpling shop owner downstairs from our apartment, which is a touch different than those Northeastern women in the video, which’s a touch different from the Portland restaurant owner.

  1. Add 1-1.5 tbsp of filling in the center of the dumpling. Again, in the video our dumplings were the really big sort, so we used about 1.5 tbsp of filling. If you’re doing the 10-15 gram dumpling skins, then you’re probably aim for about 1 tbsp or a touch less. The goal is to get as much filling as possible in the dumpling without it bursting out, and not a touch more.

  2. Pull two of the side up to get a sort of ‘taco’ shape, pressing and sealing at the top. Again, always difficult to describe this sort of process, so check out 4:24 in the video if you’d prefer a visual.

  3. Fold one end of the dumpling inward, then seal up the top. Do the same on the other side. You might need to press a bit of the filling in, that’s normal.

  4. Optionally add two pleats to the top of the dumpling. This helps everything seal and makes things ever so slightly good looking.

  5. Hold the dumpling in between your two thumbs. Press down and slightly inward. This accomplishes two things: first, it’ll seal the sucker up; second, it’ll add a slight crease in the middle of the dumpling.

Best way to go about this is to roll the skins and wrap the dumplings basically concurrently so that things don’t dry out. So get your friends or family to join in and make a little assembly line.

How to Cook Dumplings

Four ways to cook dumplings: pan-fry and steam (i.e. ‘pot stickers’), boil then pan-fry (i.e. ‘fried dumplings’), steam, or boil. It seems like I might’ve just listed those in descending order of popularity for Americans, which’s really a shame because I quite like my dumplings boiled.

But they’re all good really. Boiled dumplings have a bit smoother of a texture as compared to steamed dumplings, which have more of a bite to them (though again steamed dumplings are great for the more intense wrapping techniques). Fried dumplings are a bit ‘crispier’ than potstickers, which have that one really crunchy side.

How to Boil Dumplings:

  1. Get a pot of water to a boil, and add in ~1/2 tsp salt. In an ideal world, the pot wouldn’t be stainless steel – stick pots can easily risk the dumplings, well, sticking to them. If you’re using a stainless steel pot, just periodically make sure that the dumplings aren’t sticking to the bottom.

  2. Carefully add in the dumplings, then bring the water back to a boil. Make sure the dumplings aren’t sticking to the bottom when you’re adding them in. Tossing them in one or two at a time is a good idea.

  3. Add a bit of cool water to get the water back down to a really light simmer, then cover. I’ve heard different things as to why you should add water – maybe it’s because a heavy boil can potentially break apart the dumplings, maybe it’s because it’ll cook the filling a bit more evenly. Either way, add enough water so it’s no longer boiling, then cover.

  4. Once it’s boiling again… open the lid, add some water again, then cover. Continue doing this at least three times in total.

  5. Once the dumplings are floating, give them ~30 seconds in the hot water, then take them out.

How to Steam Dumplings:

  1. Place the dumplings on a lightly oiled plate, then place in a steamer. The dumplings will not be steamed on a bamboo steamer directly in order to prevent sticking.

  2. Sprinkle a touch of water over the dumplings. Not too much, this’s just to help keep the skins from drying out.

  3. Steam for 15 minutes. If opting for smaller dumplings, check on them earlier, at ~12 minutes. The dumplings will be done once slightly translucent.

How to Make Fried Dumplings:

  1. Boil the dumplings. As above. Note that this’s great for leftovers.

  2. Add about 1cm of oil to a pan and put the flame to medium. Fry the dumpings for ~2min on each of the three sides. Basically, you’re just looking for the side of the dumpling to get golden brown, then you’ll flip to another side.

IIRC there’s also a way to pan-fry fresh ones, but unfortunately that’s a bit of a blind spot for us.

How to make pot stickers:

  1. Add a thin layer of oil to a pot and put the flame to medium-low. Add in the dumplings. The side facing down is going to be the crispy side.

  2. After about two minutes, add enough water to get ~1/3 of the way up the dumpling. Cover. Water and oil obviously have the potential to sizzle like crazy, which’s why (1) your oil quantity shouldn’t be very high (2) the heat should be rather low and (3) you should be ready with the lid in your hand.

  3. Cook for ~6 minutes. If you touch the top of the dumpling, and it’s soft, it should be done.

Dumpling Dipping Sauce(s)

So in China, the question of what you dip your dumplings in is sort of the cultural equivalent of what you put on a hotdog. There’s two camps: dark vinegar and soy sauce.

In my personal view… the soy sauce camp, like those that put ketchup on hotdogs, are misguided heathens and dark vinegar is ultimately the only correct choice ;) But it’s all personal preference. Steph likes soy sauce.

There’s some really complex dumpling dipping sauces out there, so let’s just zero in on what would be at the table at a standard little dumpling shop:

  1. Dark Chinese Vinegar (陈醋). So this’s as good a time as any to make a note that there’s two sorts of dark Chinese vinegar – ‘mature vinegar’ and ‘Chinkiang vinegar’. They’re both aged, and in most recipes we post here they can be used interchangeably. I prefer the ‘mature vinegar’ as a dumpling dipping sauce.

  2. Youlazi Chili Oil (油辣子). This’s the Chinese chili oil that’s most commonly found in English language sources. Mike Chen’s recipe is super popular on YT, and you can also find one within our Sichuan Liangmian video at 2:26.

  3. Light soy sauce (生抽). Ideally a nicer one if possible.

  4. Garlic. Either minced or pounded, and mixed with water.

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[I made] gold grade wagyu rib-cap (spinalis) steak with butter poached lobster. Recipe and gallery in comments.

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For my mom's birthday dinner I made sous vide gold-grade wagyu rib cap (spinalis) steaks and butter poached lobster with a side of sauteed kale. We had an appetizer of seared foie gras with apricot shallot marmalade on a butter fried onion roll.

For those unfamiliar with rib cap steaks, it is the fatty edge of a ribeye. Most places will not sell you a cap alone so often you have to butcher it yourself and eat the eye separately. Also known as "butcher's butter" the rib cap is the most marbled and flavorful part of the cow. These particular ones are from Snake River Farms.

Here's how I made each of the pieces of this meal:

Foie Gras: I get my foie from Hudson Valley. They arrive flash frozen and need to thaw in the fridge over night. One of the slices is about enough for 3-4 people in my opinion, since it is so decadently rich. I like to cut the richness of the foie with something sweet and sour, so I made an apricot shallot marmalade and put the whole thing on a butter fried onion roll.

The apricot shallot marmalade is relatively easy to make. Slice 3-4 shallots thin, pit and thinly slice the apricots. You can use any sour fruit, I've done it with cherries and de-seeded blackberries before as well. Brown the shallots and apricots in a pot on medium-high until soft. Add a sprinkle of MSG, a tiny dash of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of demerara sugar, then pour in a shot of rum (or bourbon). Let this simmer on the stove top until most of the alcohol is burned off. It should have a sludgey marmalade like consistency when done. Put the marmalade in a covered container and let it get to room temp. This stuff is great on all kinds of things and you won't use it all on the foie, so save it for later!

For the onion roll, I sliced the bottom off 1 onion roll and fried the top part in a pat of butter in an iron skillet. Think texas toast, but with an onion roll. I then sliced the finished roll into 4 pieces and put it on a cooling rack so it stayed crispy.

Before searing the foie, I arranged the apricot shallot marmalade on top of each piece of onion roll so they would be ready to take the hot foie.

Finally, I pulled the foie from the fridge and seared it on a very hot iron skillet for 45 seconds per side. As soon as it came out of the pan I sliced it up and put the pieces on top of the prepared roll/marmalade pieces. I finished it with a sprinling of a large grain lightly smoked finishing salt. It is important to eat these as SOON as you possibly can since the foie will get cold fast.

Ingredients:

  • 1 slice of foie gras

  • 4 spoonfuls of apricot shallot marmalade

  • 1 onion roll

  • some kind of finishing salt

Marmalade ingredients:

  • 3-4 shallots

  • two apricots

  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar

  • a dash of MSG

  • a small dash of vanilla extract

  • 1 shot of rum or bourbon

Steaks: The steaks arrived flash-frozen and hard as concrete. I let them thaw in the fridge for 2.5 days. When they were soft enough to butcher, I hand trimmed them down removing much of the exterior fat. I then vac sealed them with a sprig of rosemary from our garden and a spoonful of my home made korean marinade.

The marinade consists of 1 cup soy sauce, 1 cup brown sugar, 5 strawberries, and 5 cloves of garlic all tossed into a blender. I freeze the marinade to preserve it but the frozen state of the marinade also prevents leaks when vac sealing the bags for sous vide.

The steaks cooked for 3.5 hours on 129. When the sous vide cook was done I removed them, patted them dry, and put them on a cooling rack to air out for a few minutes. I then cut the large steaks in half length-wise to get more surface area to sear. I seared them in a cast iron pan with butter, 45 seconds per side. As soon as they came out of the pan I put cracked black pepper and maldon salt flakes on them.

Ingredients:

  • rib cap spinalis steaks, butchered and trimmed

  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh rosemary per steak

  • 1-2 tablespoons of korean marinade per steak

  • butter for searing

  • maldon salt

  • cracked black pepper

Marinade ingredients:

  • 1 cup soy sauce

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 5 cloves garlic

  • 5 large strawberries

Lobster: Shelled the lobster tails (and made stock from them for later). Lobsters went 3 per bag into the vac sealed bags with a sprig of thyme from our garden, some freshly grated ginger, a teaspoon of sugar, and a stick of unsalted butter. They cooked at 129 for 1 hour since they were pre frozen. If you're using non frozen lobster, sous vide for a max of 45 minutes. Past that they tend to fall apart.

After the sous vide cook I removed them, but did not pat them dry. The lobstery butter gets down into the crevices and is helpful for the next step. I heated a pot up to medium-high heat, then carefully seared each lobster tail in avocado oil for about 10 seconds per side. Each lobster went into it's own bowl. On top of each tail I poured melted butter, sprinkled black and white sesame seeds, and put a very small splash of ponzu sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 lobster tails

  • 3 sticks of butter (kerrygold or amish butter are my jam)

  • a knob of ginger for grating

  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme

  • 1-2 teaspoons of sugar

  • black and white sesame seeds

  • ponzu sauce

Kale: This particular batch turned out a little over cooked since I left it in my dutch oven while I seared steaks but it was still good none the less. I used two heads of kale for 4 people. First, remove the kale leaves from the spines and discard the spines. I then put all the leaves in a very large bowl along with a tablespoon of kosher salt and enough water to cover the leaves. I manually agitated the leaves in the brine water to make sure the salt was incorporated, then left it to soak for 15 minutes. I then poured off the brine, removed the leaves and sliced them loosely into strips. Put it back in the large bowl and stuck it in the fridge for later. It's important that a little bit of the brine water be stuck to the leaves so they steam up later when cooking so don't worry about getting the leaves dry.

Separately, I sliced up 5 cloves of garlic and 4 shallots. I also got about 1/5th of a cup of pine nuts ready to go in a prep bowl. When I was ready, I put the shallots and garlic in a cast iron dutch oven on medium-high. Once the garlic starts to brown, throw in the pine nuts. Stir often for about 2 minutes or until the pine nuts start to brown.

Now, slowly add kale and fold the onion/garlic/pine nuts into the pieces of kale. You should notice the kale quickly softening and making room in the pot. Keep adding kale until all of it is added. Cover, reduce to low, and let simmer for at least 10 minutes stirring occasionally. When you're ready to serve, remove the cover, stir one more time, then add a splash of sherry vinagar and stir it all up.

Ingredients:

  • two heads of kale

  • 1 tablespoon of kosher salt

  • 4 shallots

  • 5 cloves of garlic

  • 1/5th of a cup of pine nuts

  • sherry vinegar

This was easily one of the most delicious meals I have ever made, and I'm pretty sure it's the best steak I have ever made. The steaks tasted like salty steak candy and simply melted in your mouth. Even fully cooked they had a jelly like consistency with a full bodied beef flavor that was indescribably delicious. It's not often we get such a treat, and I am thankful to have been able to make such a wonderful meal for my family.

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New Science of Cooking Subreddit

Hello wonderful folks of /r/cooking! I'm here to let you know that there is a new subreddit for the science of food and cooking. The subreddit is called /r/TheScienceOfCooking and I am a mod there. Feel free to post anything that is related to the subreddit. You may notice I have given it a little kick start, so there is a lot of content already there. Looking forward to seeing all you wonderful folks there and growing this subreddit!

Edit: Changed wording

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