We’ll be having chicken and dumplings when she comes, yum!
► Foreigners in Shanghai try their hands at making Chinese won ton
How many different kinds of Chinese dumplings are there? This is probably a question hovering in the minds of many foreigners when they first arrive in China. With different fillings and wrappers, different shapes and different cooking methods, the combinations are endless.
The Global Times recently invited two expats in Shanghai to hand-make three types of dumplings on their own following the instructions of Anne, a cook with 30 years’ experience in a local dim sum restaurant.
Our participants are Pedro from Puerto Rico, working in Shanghai in business analysis, and Tatjana a from Croatia, working in Shanghai as a lawyer. The couple moved here half a year ago and would like to learn how to make dumplings for themselves at home.
Shengjianbao (pan-fried pork soup dumplings)
Shengjianbao is a round-shaped bun, with a juicy pork filling on top of a crispy crust with a thin dough. It requires the most skill to make among all three types of dumplings. According to Anne, a qualified shengjianbao must have 20 folds on its bottom when you seal it.
For preparation you need 250 grams of warm water, 500 grams of flour, 5 grams of baking powder and pork filling.
First, dissolve the yeast and baking powder into water and stir it until it is fully absorbed. Then gradually pour in water and stir the mixture. Knead the dough until the surface becomes smooth. Then wrap it up with a plastic film and let it rise for 20 minutes in room temperature. Then cut the dough into two equal parts. Roll out the dough into an 8-centimeter snake, and cut it into small pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball, flatten it with your palm or rolling pin.
Place about a spoonfull of pork filling in the center of the dough. Finally, fold the dough, pleat and pinch the top to seal it. This is also the part where most beginners get stuck.
Our two participants had the most difficulty folding the dough, as it requires a certain gesture for each finger. You fold the wrapper around the filling at the same time. Unfamiliar with the gesture, the filling leaked out when they tried it.
“This is difficult,” said Tatjana, who kept fumbling with the dough. After several attempts they finally made a sort of dumpling shape. “Not bad for beginners,” laughed Anne.
Guotie (pork potstickers)
To help our participants get their confidence back, Anne taught them how to make guotie using the remaining ingredients. Guotie is a common moonshaped dumpling, usually filled with pork or minced beef.
Place the filling in the center of the wrapper, fold it in half to make a half-moon shape and press the edges completely with your index finger and thumb, much easier than shengjianbao. “This one is much less complicated,” said Pedro.
Won ton (simple ordinary dumpling)
Won ton is perhaps the most common dumpling in every Shanghainese household. It is often served with soup. The most popular fillings are ground pork or shrimp. To make a won ton, you need a dough wrapper, meat fillings with vegetable and a bowl of cold water.
Put the filling in the middle of the wrapper and weigh it on a scale to make sure you don’t get too much or too little filling. Each won ton should be 30 grams. Then flatten the filling, fold the lower side of the wrapper to the upper side.
Moisten the opening part with a wet finger to seal the wrappers. Then fold the won ton from bottom to top again, pull the two edges together and pinch it hard. Following Anne’s instructions, both Pedro and Tatjana made two perfect won tons.
“These students are too clever,” praised Anne. After practicing, both foreigners gained a much better understanding of how to make dumplings. “The most difficult part was to get the right finger gesture,” they both said. “But we are going to practice more at home,” said Pedro.
Tatjana (left), Anne and Pedro pose for photo in front of the Chinese dumplings they made.