Dumplings: small vessels of love

by Sandra Ximen (’26) | March 31, 2023

Art by Kiana Allard (’24)

We all have our childhood nostalgia, moments in time we wish to freeze and experience all over again. For me, that moment is sitting on my favorite stool in the kitchen, carefully watching as my mom’s deft fingers folded trays upon trays of dumplings. Dumplings, pockets of filling crimped into beautiful crescent moon shapes, are a classic Chinese dish, beloved by many. However, there are variations, and each family has its own special recipe passed on from generation to generation. Today, I will be sharing my mom’s pork-cabbage-shrimp dumpling recipe. 


1 pound ground pork 

½ pound shrimp – washed, removed shells and veins, cut into small pieces

1 pound Chinese cabbage – washed and cut into small pieces

5 tbsp water soaked with Sichuan peppercorn (soak peppercorns in hot water for 5 

minutes, then scoop them out and discard)

3 tbsp green onion – finely chopped

1 tsp ginger – freshly minced

1 tsp salt 

2 tbsp soy sauce 

½ tsp white pepper 

2 tbsp sesame oil 


Dumpling wrappers – found in Chinese supermarkets


Let’s start with the filling! First, combine the meat, shrimp, and seasoning in a large bowl and stir clockwise for five minutes. You heard that right— five minutes. It is an extremely taxing process, but the results will be worth your hard work. Stir with chopsticks or a spoon until the mixture is sticky to the touch. Then, in small increments, gently incorporate your chopped cabbage to avoid overmixing. 

The next component is our 饺子皮, the dumpling skin. An essential part of the dumpling-making process. I recommend Ranch 99 or Marina, but you can purchase them in any Chinese supermarket. 

Let’s move on to assembling the dumpling! Start by placing about two tablespoons of filling in the center of the wrapper. Use your index finger to gently dab water over the edges of the wrapper. This step prevents the dumpling from falling apart while cooking. For easy access, I recommend filling a bowl with water to keep on the side. 

Now, comes the hard part—folding the dumplings. It takes years for one to master the art of dumpling folding, and I must admit, mine always become misshapen lumps. But as they say… taste is king. Begin the process by folding up along the edge of the wrapper. Carefully pinch the edges together to form the dumpling’s signature “crimp.” Be careful as to not let any filling spill out. Repeat until your wrappers and filling are depleted.

Finally, we’re cooking. There are a plethora of methods you can use to prepare these dumplings, such as pan frying or steaming—however, I am partial to boiling. Boil a large pot of water and add in around 10-15 dumplings once the water begins to bubble. Keep a close eye on the pot and slightly stir the dumplings to prevent them from sticking together. When the dumplings float to the top, add two tablespoons of cold water to the pot. Once the water reaches its boiling stage again, ladle the dumplings out onto a serving dish. 

After all of that hard work, you’re done! Serve and enjoy your delicious 饺子!

Categories: Food

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