Rumor has it that the 18 folds to close the top of the dumpling creates this delicious juicy pork dumplings. No more or no less than 18 folds. Foodies say the 18 folds is only a sales gimmick and it reminds me of that French macaroons must have “feet”. It may be a gimmick but it is also proof to meticulous and exquisite craftsmanship.
The key to making delicious juicy pork dumplings lies in the dough. The dough is not made with boiling water but lukewarm water. Using boiling or cold water are two different ways to make a dough. Cold water dough has low water content which is ideal for boiling or deep frying. Boiling water dough has high water content which is suitable for pan frying, pan roasting, steaming, and baking.
Pot stickers and juicy pork dumplings are made with lukewarm water dough instead of boiling water dough because pot stickers are fried in shallow water in the pan with the lid on, so the dough softens while absorbing the water in the pan; the pork filling of the dumpling releases its juice to moisten the dough while it is steamed. But the juice only moistens the bottom half of the dumpling while the top half hardens as the dumpling cools. So it really doesn’t matter how many times the dumpling is folded on top to eliminate the “dough stem”, it will still harden.
Restaurants make the dumplings with modified starch to avoid the hardening problem. But it is not possible to use modified starch to make dumplings at home. Therefore, the dumplings must be eaten immediately when they come out of the steamers. They should not be cooled then re-steamed or refrigerated.
Yield: 36 (28 calories per dumpling)
Knox® Unflavored Gelatine (see note 1) – 20 g
Chicken stock – 250 g
Ground pork (cold) – 300 g
Salt, MSG (if desired) – ½ teaspoon each
Sugar – 1 teaspoon
Green onion juice, ginger juice (see note 4), Chinese cooking wine, white pepper – to taste
All purpose flour – 150 g
Water (~50°C) – 75 g
1) Make the filling: based on Knox® direction – sprinkle the Gelatine over the cold chicken stock in a sauce pan. Let stand for 1 minute. Place the saucepan over low heat and stir constantly until granules are completely dissolved.
2) Transfer the liquid into a bowl and let it cool. Refrigerate until it becomes chicken stock jello (see note 2).
3) Add the flavoring ingredients into the cold ground pork. Mix thoroughly.
4) Cut the chicken stock jello into small cubes, mix them into the ground pork mixture, refrigerate until ready to use.
5) Make the dough: whisk flour and water together until they come together. Knead the dough until the surface becomes smooth. Cover and let it rest for 20 minutes.
6) Roll the rested dough into a finger-width long stick.
7) Cut the dough into 36 pieces. Each piece is roughly 6 g.
8) Sprinkle the work surface with some flour. Place the dough piece cut side up and press down with the palm to get flattened, slight oval shaped dough disc.
9) Thin out the edge of the dough disk with a rolling pin to get a 9 cm round.
10)Since the dough disc is small and the center needs to be thick enough to withstand the pork filling juice, the edge of the dough must be thin enough to be almost transparent.
11)Put the pork filling (~16 g) in the center of the dough (see note 3).
12)Pick up the dough with filling carefully and place it on the left palm. Use the thumb and index finger of left hand and the thumb of right hand to make folds all the way around to close the top of the dumpling.
13) Line the steaming baskets with steaming paper. Cut the parchment paper into a circle smaller than the steaming basket as a substitute if steaming paper is not available.
14) Place the dumplings in the steaming basket. Allow adequate room between each dumpling to prevent them from sticking to each other while steaming.
15) Let the water boil in the steamer first then put the steaming basket(s) on to steam. Steam with high heat for 5 minutes. Eat them immediately! Do not re-steam. (If the dumplings will not be steamed and consumed immediately, place the raw dumplings on an oiled plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for half a day.)
original recipe calls for gelatin sheets. Knox® Unflavored Gelatin is the powder form in the US.
chicken stock jello is typically made with chicken stock and pig skin which is not an easy task. It is easier to make the jello with gelatin sheet or powder but do not use agar agar. If you are using canned chicken stock, adjust the amount of salt in the recipe so it is not too salty.
keep the pork filling refrigerated if you work slowly or the room temperature is high. Work with a small amount at a time and keep the rest in the refrigerator.
I included ginger juice in the recipe but I rarely use it because ginger often adds an acidic taste in the pork filling or in chicken stock. It is better to julienne the fresh ginger to compliment the steamed dumplings.