This recipe uses leftovers from your Christmas meal – I prefer a mix of stuffing, finely diced vegetables and fresh herbs if you have any, with any remaining gravy and fat from the turkey or meat to bind it together. Juiciness is essential to a great dumpling and in China extra liquids are “beaten into” the meat to hydrate it. In Shanghai, a handful of things from Blighty occupy my pantry and one of them is Paxo stuffing mix. Its deep, oniony umami flavour can be appreciated by lots of cultures.
For every 250g of filling you need to add 50ml of water and 50ml of fat or fatty liquid. Lard, bacon fat, the jiggly jelly from gravy, melted butter and olive oil all work beautifully. This way you’ll avoid a dry filling.
Most dumpling wrappers are sold in packs of 50 and I’ve never been able to make exactly the right amount of filling to accommodate a single pack. It’s best to have leftover wrappers; I deep fry them and dredge them in icing sugar and cinnamon, perfect with coffee.
Dumplings at the very least need to be sealed. If you’re not confident at replicating social media pleating lessons then don’t do it – it never upset any Italian eating ravioli to not have a pleat. I prefer circular wrappers. You can boil or fry them – you’ll need a frying pan with a lid.
Serves 6-8 people
For the dumplings
leftovers 500g, finely chopped
fat 100ml, any of your choice
dumpling wrappers 1 packet
vegetable oil for frying
For the dressing
garlic 2 cloves
boiling water 100ml
tahini 2-3 tbsp
vinegar 2 tbsp, black Chinese is legit but use what you have
light soy sauce 2 tbsp
chilli oil to serve, or chopped fresh chilli
fresh coriander leaf to garnish, or other herbs or chopped spring onion
Make sure your leftovers are finely chopped; you could lightly pulse in a food processor but you don’t want a smooth paste. Combine the leftovers with the fat and water and leave to absorb for 10 minutes. Fill your dumplings: for this recipe it’s 12-13g filling per, which is about a heaped teaspoon. Place a teaspoon of filling in the middle of a dumpling wrapper. Using a finger dipped into water, wet half the wrapper edge, fold the other half over the filling and press the edges together to make a half moon. If you want to pleat the dumplings you can – there are hundreds of ways , do whatever feels best for time and energy. Repeat until you’ve used up all the filling.
To fry the dumplings, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan over a medium heat. Boil a kettle. Add your dumplings to the pan and fry them until they are golden brown on the bottom. Pour over the boiling water about a third of way up the dumplings and cover with a lid. Continue to cook until all of the water has evaporated
To boil the dumplings, bring a large pot of unsalted water to a boil. Depending on the size of your pan you may need to boil them in batches. Boil for 2-3 minutes, until the dumpling skin is cooked and the filling piping hot.
To make the dressing, finely grate or chop the garlic and add it to the boiling water, leave to infuse for 2-3 minutes. Add the tahini and stir until smooth. Add the vinegar and soy sauce. If your dressing is still very thick add a touch more boiling water.
Serve the dumplings with the dressing and chilli oil to taste (or chopped chilli), and the herbs scattered on the dressing.
Michael Zee is a food writer based in Shanghai