There’s something very comforting about dumplings. I haven’t been able to pinpoint exactly what it is about dumplings that make it so comforting: it is the delicious meaty filling mixed in with vegetables? Or is it the yummy vinegar sauce that is served alongside a plate of dumplings? Perhaps it’s the fact that they are golden and crispy on the outside, but juicy and tender on the inside when pan-fried? Whatever the reason, dumplings rank high on my list of comfort foods, especially my mom’s homemade dumplings (also known as potstickers, and pronounced “gow-gee” in Cantonese). My mom used to make them on a free Saturday or Sunday afternoon, while I helped her wrap and my brother or my dad would roll out the dough for the dumpling skins. It was quite a family affair, and we would always make about 2 big trays of them, freeze them and put them into freezer bags so that we could pull them out of the freezer whenever we wanted to have some. They go directly into a pan frozen and are cooked until ready.
As I mentioned yesterday, my mom typically makes 2 kinds of dumplings: pork and Napa cabbage or pork and Chinese chives, which are grown and cut from our own garden out back. Since it’s spring, my mom made full use of the Chinese chives this time around, and so we made the Chinese chives variety yesterday. I of course helped with wrapping. Obviously mine are slightly uglier than my mom’s, considering she has YEARS of experience on me. However, my mom does get a kick out of mine since she thinks they look more like the shrimp dumplings (har gau) you get at dim sum because mine always somehow turn out nice and small and plump. We like to pan-fry our dumplings in a cast-iron pan to give the bottoms a nice crusty bottom, and my mom usually serves it with a soy-vinegar sauce mixed with some garlic, ginger and sesame oil. So delicious when it’s nice and piping hot!
When we make dumplings for dinner, it’s tradition in my house to make hot & sour soup along with the dumplings and scallion cakes (or green onion pancakes). Sometimes we’ll make a noodle dish too, but since it’s only three living at home now rather than four, less is more. Yours truly had the pleasure of making the scallion cakes tonight (although my mom had prepped the dough for me in advance) and they turned out beautifully! I’ve included the recipe below so that you too can enjoy this tasty and delicious Chinese snack.
Adapted from Chinese Snacks: Wei-Chuan's Cook Book
- 1 cup flour
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 1 tbsp chopped green onion (see N.B.)
- 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Place flour and salt in a mixing bowl; add boiling water and mix well (add a little cold water if dough is too dry); knead into a smooth dough and let sit 15 minutes.
- Roll dough into a long roll and cut into 6 pieces. Using a rolling pin, roll each section into a 4-inch circle; brush surface lightly with the sesame oil and sprinkle over with green onions. Roll up jelly roll-style and then roll up the sides like a snail, making sure to tuck in the ends at the top and the bottom. Flatten and roll a little with the rolling pin. Repeat procedure for each dough piece.
- Heat pan with about 4 tbsp oil. Fry on both sides until golden brown. Remove and serve.
N.B. You can always put more or less green onions, according to your own taste. We usually put more green onions in our scallion cakes at my house.