Asian Dumplings

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Fried Wontons

Andrea Nguyen is the author of Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas and More.  She recommends starting with a basic wrapper recipe using water and All-purpose flour.  She uses a tortilla press to flatten the small balls of dough, and a dowel-like stick as a rolling pin.

Siu Mai Open-Faced Dumplings 
Makes 30 dumplings, serving 6 to 8 as a snack 


2/3 lb coarsely ground pork, fattier kind preferred, coarsely chopped to loosen 
4 large dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted (see page 13), stemmed, and chopped (1/2 cup)
Generous 1/4 cup finely diced water chestnuts (fresh preferred)
3 Tablespoons finely chopped scallions (white and green parts)
1/4 tsp salt
Generous 1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon light (regular) soy sauce
1 Tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
11/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 large egg white, beaten
30 small round siu mai skins
11/2 Tablespoons finely diced carrot, or 30 peas, for garnish
Light (regular) soy sauce
Chinese hot mustard or Colman’s English mustard


1. To make the filling, in a bowl, combine the pork, mushrooms, water chestnuts, and scallions. Use a fork or spatula to stir and lightly mash the ingredients together so they begin to blend. 
2. Put the salt, sugar, white pepper, cornstarch, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, and egg white into a small bowl and stir to combine well. Pour over the meat mixture, and stir, fold, and mash everything together until they cohere into a compact mass. Cover the filling with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes, or refrigerate overnight, returning it to room temperature before assembling the dumplings. You should have a generous 2 cups of filling. 
3. Before assembling the dumplings, line steamer trays and/or a baking sheet with parchment paper. For the baking sheet, lightly dust the paper with cornstarch to prevent sticking. Set aside. Hold a skin in one hand. Scoop up about 1 tablespoon of filling with a bamboo dumpling spatula, dinner knife, or fork and position it in the center of the skin, pressing down gently. Pick up the skin and gather and pinch it together to form an open bag (see page 74). Crown the dumpling with some finely diced carrot or a pea.

If steaming right away, place each finished dumpling in a steamer tray open side up, spacing them 1/2 inch apart, and 1 inch away from the edge if you are using a metal steamer. Otherwise, place the waiting dumplings on the baking sheet a good 1/2 inch apart.

Keeping the finished dumplings covered with a dry kitchen towel to prevent drying, form and fill wrappers from the remaining dough. Dumplings made several hours in advance of cooking should be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated. For longer storage, freeze them on their baking sheet until hard (about 1 hour), transfer them to a plastic container, and keep them frozen for up to 1 month; partially thaw them before steaming. 

5. To cook, steam the dumplings over boiling water (steaming guidelines are on page 17) for 6 to 8 minutes, until the dumplings have puffed slightly and their skins have become translucent. Remove each tray and place it atop a serving plate. 
6. Serve immediately with the soy sauce and hot mustard. Invite guests to mix up their own dipping sauce.


Fried Wontons
Makes 48 wontons, serving 6 to 8 as a snack


1/3 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into pea-size pieces (41/2 oz net weight)
1/4 lb ground pork, fattier kind preferred, coarsely chopped to loosen 
1 scallion (white and green parts), finely chopped
1/2 tsp plus 1/8 teaspoon cornstarch
1/4 tsp sugar
Scant 1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch of black or white pepper
48 small square wonton skins (page 64) 
Canola or peanut oil, for deep-frying
1 cup Sweet and Sour Sauce (page 217)


1. To make the filling, combine the shrimp, pork, scallion, cornstarch, sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl and use chopsticks or a fork to mix well. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes before using, or refrigerate for up to a day in advance. You should have about 1 cup.


2. Before assembling the wontons, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and lightly dust with cornstarch. Fill each wonton skin with about 1 teaspoon of the filling, creating triangles, flower buds, or nurse’s caps (see pages 66 to 67). As you work, put the finished wontons on the prepared baking sheet. When all are made, loosely cover with a kitchen towel to prevent drying. The wontons also can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours; let them sit at room temperature to remove the chill before frying.

3. Put a wire rack on a baking sheet and place next to the stove. Pour oil to a depth of 11/2 inches into a wok, deep skillet, or 5-quart Dutch oven and heat over medium-high heat to about 325°F on a deep-fry thermometer. (If you don’t have a deep-fry thermometer, stick a dry bamboo chopstick into the oil; if it takes about 2 seconds for bubbles to rise and encircle the chopstick, the oil is ready.) 

4. Working in batches of 4 to 6, slide the won-tons into the hot oil and fry for about 1 minute on each side, or until golden brown. Use a skimmer to transfer to the rack to drain. 

5. Arrange the wontons on a platter and serve hot as finger food along with the sauce for dipping. 


Music Break: Stand! by Sly and the Family Stone



Evan Kleiman