Who doesn't just live for Chinese dumplings?! They're one of life's greatest treats! I'll eat them in any shape or form, any filling and size, fried, steamed or boiled. I can't get enough of them! The sheer variety of is almost too much to handle. I could dedicate an entire blog to dumplings alone (note to self, that's a great idea ™). One of my most favourite ways to eat these tiny delights is drizzled with surely, the greatest dumpling sauce known to man, hot chilli oil, creating spectacular Chinese chilli oil dumplings.
Making restaurant quality Chinese dumplings
I NEVER order Chinese dumplings as take-out. Let's get very REAL here, they DO NOT travel well! They DO stick together. They ARE cold. They DO burst. They ARE a disaster. And hopping to the local Chinese restaurant whenever the fancy takes us isn't always an option. And why would we when homemade dumplings are so quick, easy and delicious? I'm not even joking - my pork and shrimp dumpling recipe rivals anything I've eaten in any restaurant, anywhere!
Like I said, I love all fillings, but the combination of meat and seafood in my pork and shrimp dumplings are China on a plate. So deliciously meaty, light and fragrant in every bite. Just perfect on their own, simply boiled in water with a little soy sauce, or fried to create crispy bottomed pot stickers, but when served with a chilli infused oil, they're even better! Are you on board yet?
Chinese Chilli oil sauce - an authentic blend of salty, sweet, sour and spice.
Chilli oil is a hot oil created by infusing all the magic from dried or fresh chillies into regular oil. The results can range from a mild, throat-warming heat to a 'call the authorities' kind of fire, but generally speaking Chinese chilli oil isn't going to blow your head off. It's spicy for sure, but not ridiculous. In this spicy dumpling sauce recipe we blend the spice with salty soy, sweet sugar and sour black vinegar to create the perfectly balanced sauce.
Chilli oil isn't something you find everywhere, so you might have a few questions. Hopefully answered here:
- Where to buy chilli oil?
Buying store bought, bottled or pre-prepared chilli oil is just fine! You can find it at any Asian supermarket, either as a bottled oil or sometimes fresh in the refrigerator section. Check out my guide to essential oils for more info.
- Is there a good recipe for chilli oil?
There sure is! The recipe I follow on how to make chilli oil (I use it all the time) is from one of my favourite Chinese food blogs Red House Spice. Her recipe is a fail safe!
- Which is best? Store bought or homemade chilli oil?
Homemade Chinese chilli oil always has the edge in my opinion, but DO NOT let buying a store bought oil deter you from trying this recipe. This sauce is pretty damn delicious either way!
Pillow soft dumplings - quick and easy to make at home.
Making your own dumplings really is easy - you can buy store bought dumpling wrappers from many regular supermarkets, and ALL Asian supermarkets and they are the way to go for creating these dumplings. The simplest shape are the circular type and the easiest way to stuff and seal them is to fold them in half, much like my Italian Mezzelune Pasta with Cavolo Nero & Ricotta. The technique is the same, fold them in half, seal the edges and that's it! The dumplings in this recipe have a couple of pleats. Nothing too taxing, the video recipe and pics below will help you. If my chubby little fingers can get the hang of it, then anyone's can!
Once you've mastered your stuffing and pleating game, these little Chinese dumplings are cooked in 4 minutes. The spicy dumpling sauce recipe is whisked in about 30 seconds! That's faster than any fast food you could order at home, agreed?!
Substitutes for dumpling stuffing
I also like to eat plain pork dumplings (so just omit the shrimp) from time to time. Instead of pork and shrimp, I'll substitute either with chopped scallops. And for a meaty alternative, I'll use ground lamb instead (without shrimp) which is just sensational!
Vegetable wise, I'll often replace spring onion with cilantro or dried Chinese mushrooms (soaked for 1 hour then squeezed and finely chopped), or mix in finely chopped leek or cabbage. I'll occasionally add a little chopped peanut to the mix too.
For vegetarian or vegan options I create a mix using reconstituted dried mushroom with tofu, spring onion and chopped bamboo shoot (same seasonings + cornstarch). They're delicious.
Dumplings can be served as an appetizer or a main course, usually with a bunch of other Chinese dishes to accompany. Why not try my delicious Snow Pea Shoots with Garlic or Chinese Eggplant. And they'll work just marvellously alongside my Xinjiang Lamb Skewers or Wuxi Pork Spare Ribs. But you if you just want to the pure unadulterated experience of silky-smooth dumplings with spicy dumpling sauce, then who is anyone to to argue!?
How to make Chinese Chilli Oil Dumplings
For the dumplings
For the chilli oil sauce
- 2 spring onion (finely sliced - for garnish)
For the dumplings
- In a bowl, combine the pork, shrimp, spring onion, ginger, pepper, salt, sesame oil, Shaoxing, soy sauce and cornstarch. Using your hands, mix so that everything is well combined.
- Pour a little water into a small bowl and set to the side.
- Take one dumpling wrapper and using a little water dampen half of the surface.
- Take around 1 heaped teaspoon of the pork mixture and place in the centre of the dumpling wrapper.
- Fold the wrapper upwards and press the two edges together, top centre (the left and right side are not sealed yet).You can either just seal all the edges to create a half moon shape or make a couple of pleats - up to you!
- To make a pleat, take the front part of the dumpling on the right side and gather to make a little fold. Press the fold down and seal the right side of the dumpling. Repeat this process on the left side. (See video for to see this in action!)
- Make sure the dumpling is well sealed as close to the filling as you can, this will ensure they don't burst while cooking.
- Repeat this process until you've used all your filling (cover the dumplings)
To make the chilli oil
- Whisk together all the oil ingredients and set aside.
To cook the dumpings
- Fill a saucepan 3/4 full of water and bring to a light simmer.
- Add a few dumplings (I make mine in batches of 8 - 8 is a lucky Chinese number!)
- Stir the dumplings briefly (in one direction - again, lucky!)
- Let them simmer for 3-4 minutes then using a slotted spoon or spider remove and place into a waiting serving bowl.
- Spoon over a few spoonfuls of the sauce and sprinkle over a little spring onion. Serve hot!
Tips and suggestions
You can make these dumplings and freeze them. Simply place them in a single layer (not touching) for 4 hours until completely frozen, then quickly pop them in a freezer bag and back into the deep freeze. To cook from fozen just add 2-3 extra minutes of cooking time.
You can make your homemade chilli oil in advance (it keeps for months!), and you can also make your spicy dumpling sauce recipe in advance and keep in the fridge until you need it.
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