Friday 19 July 2013

School Night Dinners Series - Recipe 5 - Asian-style Dumplings

So, this is the last installment in my School Night Dinners series.

Here's a reminder of the recipes so far for quick reference:

And now .... drum-roll ... for Recipe Number 5!!  LOL.  Did I make it sound exciting enough!?!


Out of the 5 recipes, this is probably my favourite ... not because it's particularly quick to make (it does take a little time to prepare), but because these little delicious parcels of yum freeze brilliantly, have a whole meal in them, taste as good as any dumplings you'd find at Yum Cha, and take no time to get onto the table from the freezer.

Now, not only do we eat these at least once a week for dinner, we have also served them for friends and family who've loved them.  They're great on their own (which is how we serve them for the kids) or made into a beautiful Asian-style soup and dumplings dish, which is how Mummy and Daddy prefer them.

Now before you get scared, they really are very simple to make, and very simple to wrap (there's step by step pics below to show how to wrap them).  We usually prepare them on the weekend, and make a big batch that gives us enough for 3-4 meals.  We then freeze them in plastic takeaway food boxes ... about 12 dumplings to a box, then just use them as we need them.  When we run out, we make more to re-stock the freezer.  And the super-fast prep from freezer to plate really does make the little bit of time spent on wrapping them worthwhile.  Bethany loves to help make these, and is actually pretty good at it these days too.  
Anyway, want the recipe?  Here's what you need:
- 500 grams mince meat (we usually use pork, but we've also done them with turkey and beef)
- 2 packets of wonton wrappers (square ones).  If you can't get to an asian grocer, never fear ... you can find these in most supermarkets these days.  They are in the fridge section, usually with the fresh pasta.
- 1/2 bunch shallots (or whatever you call them, spring onions, scallions etc)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 small can water-chestnuts
- 1 small can champignon mushrooms
- 1 carrot
- 1 zucchini
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons Hoi-sin sauce (In the Asian aisle of the supermarket)
- 2 tablespoons Oyster Sauce (in the Asian aisle of the supermarket)

(You can pretty much put whatever vegies you Chinese cabbage, beans, red cabbage etc)

1. Roughly chop the carrot, zucchini, shallots and garlic then blitz until there are no large chunks of vegetables, and all ingredients are well-combined.

2.  Add mince meat and egg and blitz until well combined.

3. Drain the water chestnuts and mushrooms, and add them to the food processor then blitz until finely chopped and well-combined.

4.  Add the Hoi-Sin and Oyster Sauce, and blitz until well combined.  You should have something that resembles a kind of meatloaf mixture consistency.  You could also add some chilli at this point if you want to, but to keep it nice and kid-friendly we generally leave the chilli out.

Now for the wrapping:

5. Take 1 wonton wrapper, and spoon 1 teaspoon of mixture onto the middle ... don't be tempted to over-fill them.  They just break when they're cooking of you do, and they don't look anywhere near as cute all mushed up!

6. Gather the 4 corners of the wrapper to the top to enclose the filling like so ...

7.  Gather in the edges with your fingers and press together around the middle to make a 'money-bag' shape.

8.  Give one final firm pinch around the middle to make sure it's nice and tight.

Voila ... not so hard after-all, hey!

9. Now just continue wrapping until either you're out of wonton wrappers, or you're out of mixture (Oh, and if you have left over mixture, it goes great stir-fried in a hot pan with some cooked rice, frozen peas, scrambled egg and a dash of soy sauce for a super-quick fried rice dish).

10.  To cook them (either freshly wrapped or straight from the freezer) bring a large pot of water to the boil, and once boiling drop the dumplings in, and give a short, gentle stir.  Bring back to the boil, and cook simmering until all the dumplings are floating.  The floating indicates they're ready.  My tip for using them straight from the freezer is not to defrost them at all before boiling them.  If you defrost them, they will become sticky and stick together, tearing the wrappers.  Just drop them in frozen, in 1 big clump of dumplings, and stir occasionally very gently to make sure they're not sticking to the bottom of the pot.  When they separate from each other and float, they're ready!

And that's how we serve them for the girls.  Bethany likes a little dish of soy sauce on the side to dip her dumplings in, and for Hannah we cut them in half to make them a bit more bite-sized, then she just eats them with her fingers.  A yummy, complete meal in cute little packaging.

To make them a bit more interesting for Mummy and Daddy's dinner, we like to make an asian style broth-like soup and serve these dumplings with fresh veggies.  Here's what you need to make Soup Dumplings:

- 2 cups chicken stock (salt-reduced)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sweet chilli sauce
- 3 fresh shallots
- Fresh vegies (eg broccoli, carrot, snow peas, mushrooms)
- Cooked dumplings (we will usually eat about 8 each for a hearty dinner)

1. Place your cooked dumplings in a nice deep bowl, and chop your veggies into bite size pieces.

2.  Very lightly steam / boil your vegies (you can do this in the water / stock you will be using to make the soup.  That means the soup retains all the water-soluble viatmins that come out of your vegies while they cook).  You really want there to be some crunch left in the vegies, so don't overcook them ... much more tasty that way, plus remember they will be sitting in the hot soup which will also continue to cook them while you eat them.  Once cooked, sit the vegies on top of your dumplings in your bowl.

3.  Bring your stock to the boil, turn the heat down to simmer and add the soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce, and give it a mix.

4.  Chop your shallots and put half in the soup.  Simmer for about 2-3 minutes.

5.  Take the soup off the heat and pour directly over your vegies and dumplings.  Sprinkle the remaining shallots over the top.

And there you go ... hearty, fresh and such a good winter warmer!

So, that concludes my School Night Dinner Recipe Series.  Hope you've enjoyed reading about how we save time on those hectic week-nights.

Oh and I'd love to hear if you've had a go at any of these recipes, and what you thought!  

Make It and Love It


  1. Hi,

    I made some of the dumblings a few days ago.
    I also added ground meet.

    And they also come great if you fry them in a pan from one side - just some few minutes till they turn lightly brown. Then add a cup of water or two and cover the pan. Let them simmer for a few minutes ... that's it.

    Hope, my writing is clear - sometimes it is hard to explain what I want to say ... I am a German and my english is not that good ...

    Thanks for your great idea. I will try you receipt pretty soon.


    1. Thanks Kathy, We've fried them off before too ... Yum! Great idea!

  2. Yum! I'm a big fan of whipping some homemade dumplings out of the freezer for dinner.