Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chinese Dumplings - Homemade Wrappers

Related post: Chinese Dumplings - Filling & Dipping Sauce

I have a confession to make. I have been subsisting on boiled Chinese Dumplings (饺子) for the past 2 months. I have them as a main dish, as a side dish, as a snack, as a reward, as a pick-me-up ... oh, you get the idea ;)

This happened after I learnt to make my own dumpling wrappers. The texture of homemade wrappers is light years away from store-bought, frozen ones. I kid you not. It's silky, smooth and delightfully chewy. I love the taste and texture so much that I have been eating them boiled instead of panfried, like I used to (as Potstickers/Guo Tie/Gyoza). Boiling is the best way to truly savour their texture.

Chinese Dumplings Wrappers P1070140
Homemade dumpling wrappers - in perfect circles because I used a cutter :)

Now, making your own wrappers is so easy, I just wonder why I have never attempted to make my own. How difficult is it to mix flour, water, salt and oil together? If you can bake cakes or breads, this one's a no-brainer. I learnt this from Nice Mrs Tan who also taught me Teochew-Style Ngoh Hiang and Hay Bee Hiam.

Note that all these photos were taken on different days, so excuse the terrible "mix-and-match" quality!

Recipe (for wrappers)
- 500g plain flour
- 1 cup slightly warm water (1/3 cup boiling water + 2/3 cup room temperature water)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
Yields about 800g of dough

1. Add salt and oil to the warm water. Stir till the salt has dissolved completely.

2. In a big pot or deep bowl, pour in plain flour. Add the warm water mixture slowly and stir (using chopsticks). Add a little water each time so that you can judge how wet or dry the dough is. Stop when it looks slightly sticky. Just continue stirring (or using your hands when it gets too sticky) till the dough comes together in a large, clumpy ball. As long as most of the dough clumps together, it's time to stop. Don't worry that it looks lumpy and dry.

3. Seal the bowl with clingwrap and allow to relax for about 10 - 15mins.

4. Now, start kneading. You will notice that the dough no longer looks as lumpy and dry. As you knead, it will become elastic and shiny. If you find that it's too dry, add a little more warm water; if it's too wet, add a little more flour - as simple as that! Throw the dough onto your work surface in between kneads to improve the structure. Those of you who have made breads by hand will be familiar with this routine.

5. The dough is ready to be rolled into wrappers as soon as it is smooth and pliable.

6. Nice Mrs Tan pinched off little balls of dough, one at a time, and rolled them into circular wrappers. Or, you can opt to roll the dough into a thin, flat sheet and use a cutter to cut out circular wrappers.
* Note that there is a reason why Nice Mrs Tan did it her way: wrappers should ideally be thicker in the centre and thinner at the edges (so that the pleats will not be too thick). I saw that as she rolled each ball into flat circles, she smoothed out the edges more, while avoiding the middle. Having said that, if you are a novice making dumplings for the first time, don't fret the small details.

7. Ensure that the rolled wrappers are not too thin, otherwise they will break where the fillings "sit". Sprinkle flour into each wrapper as you "pile" them up in a stack.

Top left: Sticky mixture when warm water mixture is added.
Top right: The clumpy dough after some stirring and moulding.
Bottom left: After letting it rest, knead the dough, slam it against your worktop, and it should look like this.
Bottom right: Pinch into little balls of dough to be rolled out into round wrappers. Or roll out the dough into a flat sheet, then use a round cutter to cut out all the wrappers.

Now you can start wrapping the dumplings. One way is to pleat the edges (to get that gorgeous crescent effect), another is to press the edges firmly with your fingers (and get a simple semi-circle). The wonderful thing about wrapping with homemade, fresh dough is that there is no need to wet the edges with water. The wrappers are naturally adhesive.

These dumplings freeze beautifully. Simply place them neatly on a tray (sprinkled with flour) in the freezer for 10mins. When they have hardened into individual hard blocks, seal them in bags or containers, in quantities of your choice. I usually pack 10 in a bag, enough for 1 serving. When cooking these frozen dumplings, DO NOT thaw. Go straight from freezer to pan/pot.

Chinese Dumplings 1 P1070177
Pleating is easy - 3 pleats on the left, 3 pleats on the right. Gather the pleats inwards, towards the centre. You will get the "crescent" effect. Team work is highly recommended when making dumplings. When Nice Mrs Tan and I made them, we had an unspoken division of labour - she rolled the dough, I did the wrapping. Emile Durkheim would be proud!

Cooking the Dumplings
Panfried (aka Potstickers/Guo Tie/Gyoza)
1. Add some oil in a huge skillet. When the oil is heated up, place the dumplings neatly to fill up the skillet. Ensure there is sufficient space in between.

2. Allow the skin to crisp and brown.

3. Pour a little hot water into the skillet and cover for 5 mins, so that the steaming effect can cook the dumplings through. Once there is no more water left, dish up the dumplings and serve immediately.

1. Heat 1 pot of water (salted).

2. Prepare another pot of cool water (at room temperature).

3. When the first pot of water starts to boil, drop in the dumplings and allow them to cook, about 4 mins.

4. Dish them up with a slotted spoon and plunge them into the pot of cool water for a few seconds.

5. Put them back into the boiling water again for another few seconds and serve.
Trivia: Do not discard the water used for boiling the dumplings. If you have eaten too much and feel like you're suffering from indigestion, drink some of that water. It will take away that full, bloated feeling. Apparently, all old folks who know will tell you that ;)

Chinese Dumplings Boiled P1080249

I highly recommend eating plain, boiled dumplings to appreciate the texture of your homemade wrappers :)
Boiled Chinese Dumplings are now my everyday food. What's yours?


  1. wah, if my daughter seeing this, she will ask me to make this, her all time favorite, actually my favorite too, hahaha..just that, I'm lazy to do..
    Thanks for sharing the detail steps and tips, you are just great.

  2. These look too perfect! I've seen a documentary where the whole Chinese family partakes in making homemade dumplings for sahur (the pre-dawn meal of Ramadan); each person taking on a different role, and I thought what a lovely way of strengthening ties :) I reckoned it'd include less familiar ingredients for the dough, but now that you've put it up, sounds do-able enough! Thanks for sharing, dearie :)

  3. Nice dumpling! Perfect pleating!

  4. Sorry I was jumping the gun, where's the filling ! I told myself...didn't know you were making the wrappers only...didn't see title. Too eager to see the recipe for the fillings.

    One question:What do you mean by plain dumplings ? If there's no filling, it will be flat...seek your advise

    1. I agree! I was looking for filling recipe.

  5. They look more like Cantonese diusum dumplings than the potstickers.
    They look tidy, neat and delicious.

  6. O they look so lovely. What a treat to have homemade wrappers, what a good skill to be making them. Yes you deserve excellent dumplings!

  7. Hi everyone!

    The word "dumpling" is very general and depending on where you come from, they look and taste differently.

    ovenhaven: You are right - half the fun of making dumplings is in the communal effort. The other half is, obviously, in the eating. Since I am the only one in my family who loves eating these, I have to make them myself. The upside is, they are all mine to relish!

    nyonyachef: LOL! When I said "plain", I meant just boil and eat. No panfrying. As for filling and dipping sauce - akan datang. Watch this space ;)

    Angie: Yes, you are right - these are very Cantonese. The only ones I know because I have only eaten dumplings at dim sum restaurants! Great observation :)

  8. Ju..not only are the photographs beautiful but the story is too..I liked the Emily link..
    I tried to make these once..I will try again following your directions..They are on my favorite food list:)My favorite everyday food?

    It's different all the time..I guess what I have every morning w/out fail is one café au lait but that's a liquid:)

  9. Monique, I do hope you try them. You will not want to buy ready-made wrappers anymore. I noticed you like wantons, so I think you will like these too :)

    PS: I thoroughly enjoyed reading the works of Emile Durkheim while in university. He was one of my favourite Sociologists :)

  10. I love making and eating dumplings but I have to make my own wrappers one day. I know it will definately taste better than the store bought ones.

  11. Un de mes amis, vietnamien, serait "fou" s'il voyait ces photos fantastiques, je note la recette et je suis d'accord pour lui donner ma cuisine le temps de réaliser ces petites merveilles !

  12. JU how lovely...I like making things from scratch, homemade everything, it makes me feel less vulnerable if you know what i mean....which actually sounds a little wierd i know.:) ill give these little babies a try.

  13. I'm always too lazy to make my own wrappers.was given a rolling pin today, maybe its my calling!! :)

  14. These look like pillows. I want them! Well, I am putting this on my list of things to make, right alongside those son-in-law eggs!

  15. Oh my .. you're making your own dumpling skin! Now that is certainly an achievement. I'll have to try your recipe one day - in fact I just bought store-bought ones over the weekend from Sheng Siong. Am planning some dumplings this weekend.

  16. Che buoni ... adesso che ho la tua ricetta posso cimentarmi nella loro preparazione, bravissima.
    Un abbraccio Daniela.

  17. Your dumplings look great! I wish mine would look so professional.

  18. Wow, you make your own wrappers? That's amazing! If I could do that, I'd eat dumplings everyday!

  19. They are gorgeous!!! You're so talented!

  20. Oh - and also stop by my blog, I have an award for you! http://tastytrix.blogspot.com/2009/10/awards-season-and-introducing-tasties.html

  21. wow, they look like gyoza! I'll try to make my own wrappers soon!

  22. OMG... I can do this, and I love to order these when we hit the fake Chinese restaurants. And I have some leftover sparerib meat that I can add a little raspberry chipotle sauce...

    HMMMM... a project to come soon

  23. Oh Little T...this is my favorite of favorite things to eat! How I would love to sit at a kitchen table with you and Monique and make dumplings!
    I am going to try the wrappers....why not? I did not ever think of cutting them out with a cutter...what genius!!!!
    Can not wait to see your filling recipe...
    I made some not long ago with a pork and cabbage filling...but I used storebought wrappers.
    Thanks for a wonderful post!

  24. We make dumplings all the time at home too, but making your own dumpling wrappers? I feel like that is so ambitious. You make it look like it is no biggy. I loved how you made your own bean curd sheets too. Your recipes are inspiring.

  25. Hey little teochew you don't happen to have Singapore hokkien mee recipe do you? My favourite dish when I was living there.

  26. I just tried making my own wrappers and this time around, I think I didn't add enough flour - too filmsy. :p I'll try yours next time. We love it fried. :) hehehe

  27. love the pleats! don't think i'll be able to pleat them so nicely.
    awesome job! i havent made homemade wrappers before.
    sounds like fun. heh.

  28. I have tried to make my own dumpling skin, the challenge is in rolling the little lumps of flour into a flat round sheet - difficult to get it right. :( maybe I will try again.(The guys at Ding Tai Feng do it so well!)

  29. wow even the wrappers are homemade, you are amazing!!

  30. I have never tried to make the wrappers!! Usually when I buy 1 packet, it's not enough for the filling.. if I buy 2 packets, there are far too many... guess, to make some extras using your recipe is a great idea!

  31. First time to your blog & love it!!!!!
    I make my wrappers exactly the way you said.
    But I steam the dumplings instead of the hot & cold water treatment...
    Does it taste better this way or is the end product the same as in steaming?

  32. I made these wrappers, and filled them with a chicken, green onion, garlic, chinese cabbage mixture, cooked them the pan frying then steaming way. They tasted great, but were pretty chewy, a bit gummy. I imagine boiling them would be better. What made them chewy?

  33. Anon, actually, they are meant to have a chewy texture, unlike store bought ones. But if you found them too chewy, I suspect you rolled them a lil too thick? A bit gummy? Hmmm, that's new!

  34. Hi Ju,

    I will be making this tomorrow but I only have black wheat flour (those wholefood product) in the house. Do you think it will change the texture?

    Hrm.. I guess the only way to know is to make them and let you know....

    Will tell you more after making them :)


  35. Hi Ju,
    The black wheat flour was a disaster!!! The flour will not glue together! It was like sand!

    Luckily the convenient store is just 2 steps away. I bought my flour and started the dough again.

    My husband loves the end results :) He was a bit impatient when I asked him to wrap the dumplings. In the end, he helped me to roll them flat and I made the dumpling :)

    A nice dish to get your husband to talk to you in the kitchen :)


  36. Just wondering if anyone has tried this with rice flour or brown rice flour? Thanks!

  37. Hi Ju,
    How do I keep the extra wrappers if I've rolled out too many? Just put them in the fridge, or freeze them? Will they stick together and hard to get separated when I want to use them again? Thank you.
    *New Baker*

  38. I have never kept nor froze them, to be honest. But I would imagine: lightly flour each wrapper and stack them up so that they won't stick. And place them on a small plate, and cover with cling wrap so that they don't dry out? Just thinking out loud ... I wouldn't freeze them, personally.

  39. Can green cabbage be used instead of napa cabbage?

  40. patty: No, I don't recommend. They are too hard compared to napa.

  41. Ju, thanks for your post! I used your dough recipe, and while it took forever, I made some really beautiful homemade skins for the first time. I still have to get the boiling part down though, as I may be overboiling them so the skin gets a bit mushy.

  42. Thank you for your post! I used your dough recipe and made my first homemade skins. They were beautiful! I've been wondering if using bread flour instead of all-purpose may help get the wrappers less mushy next time...

    1. Hi Izzy, I am not sure about bread flour ... I didn't encounter mushiness, so I think it's more to do with the boiling time. But kudos to you for getting beautiful wrappers!

    2. Just love dumplings usually buy from store. Have had Chinese students for years in my home but will have to make by myself,worthwhile in the end. Will give your wrappers a try.

  43. I love this recipe! I make the dumplings over the weekend and then freeze them for whenever I need a quick snack throughout the week. They work perfectly! I have to be careful and hide it though or else my brother gobbles it up!

  44. How many dumplings does this recipe make?