Cook Dumplings in 3 Ways Like a True Master

In most Chinese families, dumplings (jiǎozi, 餃子) generally refer to boiled dumplings as that is the easiest and arguably the most delicious way to cook them. However, even this simplest method has so many nuances that could bring your dumpling eating experience to the next level.

Different ways of cooking dumplings unlock their distinct layers of flavours. We're sharing with you the tips and tricks of each cooking method that are commonly used in Chinese families.

Method 1: Boiling

Boiling allows the flavours of the fillings to shine through while maintaining the wrappers chewy. The worst fears of boiling dumplings are broken wrappers, sticky bottoms and undercooked fillings. This simple "3-boil Method" will eliminate these three concerns and guarantee perfectly cooked dumplings.

Steps:

1. Always add dumplings to boiling water. Gently stir the dumplings before the first boil to make sure they don't stick to the bottom of the pot. Cover with a lid.

2. As soon as it comes to a full boil, remove the lid and add a glass of cold or tap cold water. Wait for the second boil. 

3. Repeat step two as soon as it comes to the second boil. Cook without lid. **If you're cooking vegetarian or vegan dumplings, they are ready to serve after this step. 

4. Repeat this step one more time if you're cooking meat dumplings to get to the third boil. Cook without lid.

5. Remove dumplings from the pot with a strainer and serve them on a flat plate, so they don't stick to each other as they cool down.

There you have it! Serve them hot with the signature Dumpling Sauce or Chinese black vinegar.

Method 2: Pan-frying

This approach also has a more recognized name - potstickers. Pan-fried dumplings are irresistible because of their browned and crispy bottoms and juicy fillings. The beauty of potsticker-making is that it has a lot of room for creativity. Keep reading to see what we mean!

Steps:

1. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil on a non-stick pan or cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Place dumplings onto the pan. Be sure to keep them separate to avoid sticking.

2. Cook for about 2-3 minutes until an even golden brown on the bottom. Don't move or swirl the pan until the bottom hardens.

3. Add enough water to cover 1/3 of the dumplings. Cover with a lid.

4. Uncover when you start hearing the sizzle. Cook for another 60 seconds or so until the water completely evaporates and you see a golden and hard bottom.

5. Remove from the pan and sprinkle some fresh spring onions and cooked white sesame seeds!

If you want some extra fun and crispiness, try this as Step 4.
 4. (Optional) Uncover before you hear a sizzle, and there's still a small amount of water remained in the pan. Pour in a well-blended mixture of corn starch (other types of starch work too) and water - approximately 1 teaspoon of corn starch and 1/2 cup of water. Cook uncovered for another 1 minute until the starch mixture crisps up and becomes golden. The potstickers and the crispy starch bottom should be able to come out as a whole. 

OR if you're serving them as a brunch item (or not!), you could replace the starch mixture with an egg mixture. Simply mix 1-2 eggs and 2 tablespoons of water and repeat the steps above.

Method 3: Steaming

Steaming is the best way to preserve dumplings' flavours. You would love steamed dumplings if keeping the wrappers whole and intact has been a challenge for you.

A lot of us automatically skip this option because we might not have a bamboo steamer handy. Steaming with a bamboo steamer set sure gives you that dim-sum dining vibe but is not a must when it comes to steaming food at home. A regular steamer, a wok or a big stockpot that can comfortably fit in one of your plates are all good to steam!

Steps:

Using a bamboo or regular steamer

  1. Line the bottom with steaming parchment paper. You can also make your own with baking parchment paper. (See image below) Alternatively, you can also line the bottom with lettuce leaves or carrot slices to avoid sticking.

  2. Bring the water to a full boil, then place the steamer in.

  3. Cook for about 10 minutes.

  4. Remove gently and serve hot with the signature Dumpling Sauce!

If you don't have a bamboo or regular steamer

  1. Use a wok or a large stockpot and add water to the bottom. Find a plate that's higher than 2cm and can be comfortably fit into the wok/pot without being stuck. Flip it upside down and place it at the bottom of the wok/pot. 
  2. Find another flat plate that can fit into the wok/pot without getting stuck. Line it with steaming parchment paper, lettuce leaves or carrot slices to avoid sticking, and place the dumplings onto the plate. Then put the plate in the wok/pot onto the upside down place.
  3. Follow steps 2-4 from above.