From meat and veggies to seafood and herbs! Chinese dumplings are so diverse in their making they are sometimes more of a style than a dish itself. The beauty in these adorable little pockets is that anything made into a batter that fits inside the dough can make up a dumpling of it’s own. And if you’re interested to know, the name of the dish is almost as important as the food itself!
In Chinese culture there are various stories that date back to the origin of dumplings, and the most common referred to dates back to over 1800 hundred years ago when a medical doctor retires from his government job. One winter, he decides to return home and invest his time helping the poor in his hometown who experienced painful ear frostbites. To rid them of their pain, the doctor wrapped meats and other herbal remedies into tiny pancakes, boiled in soup.
From the balance of the ingredients in the pockets and the warmth of the soup, the doctor believed that patient’s bodies were provided the proper nutrients that the pain and frostbite on the ears gradually went away. And every winter after that, the doctor continued to offer his dumplings as a recovery from frostbite, a tradition that continues on today. Much like the story, dumplings are still most popular during the winter as celebrations of rejoice; but of course you can find these served year-round in many cuisines around the world and in a variety of ways!It’s sometimes easy to forget about the the concept of Yin and Yang, a philosophy that is still strongly rooted in Chinese culture. Yin and Yang is all about “balance” and was also a primary guideline for Chinese traditional medicine. What does that have anything to do with this story? “Yin” and “Yang” describes how two opposite forces work together to form a “whole”. Animal protein, like the ground pork and seafood in this recipe, are considered the “Yang” in this instance. They bring high energy and sodium. Conversely, herbs and vegetables, like the chives and bok choy in this recipe, represent the “Yin”. They are cooler in tone and generally lower in calories.
When these two opposites come together (hot and cold), they create an energetic quality that is said to contribute to your body’s health and healing. And that’s why these cute little pockets of joy are so amazing! They don’t only taste great but also contribute to your health. You could even make these your own by substituting the ground pork and seafood for ground turkey. Or use diced carrots and green onions instead of chives and bok choy. The beauty in understanding the basics of Yin and Yang is that, you can mix and match anything you like, – as long as it preserves the balance of opposites!Once you’ve decided what you want in the filling, wrap the contents into the little pancakes and use water to seal. Either fry or boil them (I prefer boiling so I won’t overcook the dumplings or burn them) and when you take them out of the water, you finish with nice plump dumplings! You’ll love the tender juicy pork and shrimp filling that infused with the flavored with the aroma of bok choy and fresh chives. You’re also experiencing the balancing act of Yin and Yang– all in one bite. The best reason to make these….Bet you can’t eat just one 😉
- 0.6 lbs ground pork
- 200g shrimp (about 9 pieces)
- 200g bak choi
- 3 tablespoon light soy sauce
- salt & pepper to taste
- 50 dumpling wrappers
- In a small bowl, add shrimp and sit bowl under cool running water for 8 minutes (this allows it to defrost).
- In the meantime, wash your bak choy thoroughly and chop finely.
- When the shrimp is done defrosting, remove shrimp from running water and remove shells. Chop into tiny pieces.
- In a large bowl, stir together the bak choy, shrimp, ground pork, light soy sauce, salt & pepper. Mix for 6-8 minutes until everything is well-combined.
- To wrap the dumplings, dampen the edges of the paper with a little water. Put a little less than a tablespoon of filling in the middle and fold the paper in half. Pinch the wrapper together at the top and make 2-3 folds on each side, until the dumpling looks like an ear. Make sure it’s completely sealed. Repeat until the entire filling is all gone, placing the dumplings on a plate or baking sheet lined with parchment. Make sure the dumplings don’t stick together.
- To cook the dumplings, you can either boil or pan-fry. To boil, simply bring a medium-sized pot of water to a boil. Drop the dumplings in and cook until they float to the top. Add a glass of cold water and bring the water to a boil again so the dumplings float to the top. Do this one more time. When the water is boiling a 3rd time and the dumplings float to the top, remove from the water. The skins should be cooked thoroughly but still a little al dente.
- To pan-fry, add 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan and heat over medium high. Place the dumplings in the pan and fry for 2 minutes. Pour a thin layer of hot water into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow dumplings to steam for 4 minutes until the water has evaporated. Remove the cover and turn heat off. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 min. The bottoms of the dumplings should be a golden brown and crisp.
- Place dumplings on a plate and serve with your favorite dipping sauce!