One of my absolute favorite ways to enjoy a lazy brunch is dim sum.
For those who aren’t familiar with it, it’s a traditional way of eating a Chinese meal that involves lots of tiny dishes.
You basically pick which dishes you want off of this amazing tray of wonderful food. Think of it as tapas except with dumplings, stir-fries, and other Asian dishes.
One of my absolute favorite dim sum dishes is Chinese steamed dumplings.
Sometimes they are filled with meat or bean paste; sometimes they are just steamed with no filling. The dough is really soft and fluffy and I swear I could eat 100 of these by myself!
To be honest, this was the first time I’ve ever made these, and they were much easier to make than I was anticipating.
As far as I know there’s no store brand of dough that will work for these dumplings. You’ll have to make it yourself if you want the real deal. Luckily, it’s not that hard.
Start by combining the yeast starter ingredients listed in the recipe in a small bowl. Stir these together and let them sit for about 30 minutes.
This will get the yeast nice and active and after 30 minutes it should be foaming like crazy.
To pull the actual dough together, mix the starter with the other dough ingredients, but leave out the flour. Stir them together and then start to add the flour a cup at a time.
Stir this all together until it forms a rough ball of dough.
Turn this out onto a floured surface and start kneading the dough until it’s really soft. If at any point the dough is really sticky, just add a few tablespoons of flour and keep kneading.
After about 10 minutes of kneading you should have a very soft dough.
Add the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover it, and let it rise for about 2.5-3 hours. It should triple in size and get really loose.
When you’re ready to actually make the dumplings, cut the dough into quarters and then work with one quarter at a time. For each quarter, use a dough slicer or sharp knife to slice the dough into twelve even pieces. It’s okay if they aren’t perfectly even. I just eyeballed mine.
I tried two different fillings for my dumplings and both were excellent. The first one was a more traditional mixture with ground pork, ginger, scallions, and some seasonings.
The second filling was a bit more experimental, but my wife actually liked it better than the traditional filling.
It was just diced ham and grated cheese!
When you’re ready to actually make the dumplings, just pick up a single piece of dough and stretch it out a bit. Then add a heaping spoonful of filling to the center of the dough.
The dough will be very flexible, so just pull the edges of it around the filling and twist it together at the top so it sticks.
That dumpling is done!
It might seem crazy to make all of these by hand but of course you could recruit some helpers. I actually did them all by myself and after about a dozen I got really fast at it. It probably took me 15 minutes to make 48 dumplings.
After you have made 12, set them in your steamer. I like to use a bamboo steamer. Make sure to rub your steamer with some oil or line it with lettuce so the dumplings won’t stick to it.
Steam the dumplings over a pot or wok of boiling water for about 18 minutes.
Serve these guys with the sauce that I listed in the recipe.
The ham and cheese ones were actually best paired with some spicy mustard.
These were so good!
These might seem like a lot of work, but considering that a Chinese restaurant will charge you $4-$5 for 6 of these, they are really economical to make on your own.
I would guess that making four dozen of these cost me $10.
If you’re up for something that looks really hard but is actually pretty straightforward, give these guys a shot!
More Chinese RecipesNick is thinking of opening a dumpling street cart. The ham and cheese dumplings would be on the menu all the time. Be sure to check out his blog, Macheesmo, and follow him on his Tablespoon profile.