Pork and chive dumplings are one of the classic, traditional flavor combinations that you may find as part of dim sum, or enjoyed at home especially for occasions like Lunar New Year. The simple filling is a delicious combination of rich meat and light herby flavor. A tasty bite whenever you choose to enjoy.
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I have a family of dumpling fans, in pretty much any shape or form. Gyoza, Chinese pork and cabbage dumplings, German sweet Dampfnudel (almost more like a bread), Italian pumpkin ravioli and tortellini in brodo. You name it, kids and adults alike in our house love them.
The cynic in me wonders if they just like things that take a bit more work to make. But at the same time, there is something special about a little bite of something with a tasty filling inside (true, not all dumplings are filled but that's another discussion). These little bites are a classic dumpling that are well worth adding to your list to try.
These days, you will find many creative fillings for Chinese jiaozi, but there are a few classics that are always worth enjoying, and these are one of them. They are perfect as part of a Lunar New Year celebration, or any time you choose.
Pork is a common base for Chinese dumplings, since the rich meat is so naturally tasty. The herby brightness of the chives balances that out a little for a great mix of flavors. A few other basic seasonings, and that's all you need.
What kind of chives are in these dumplings?
When I say "chive" I am not talking about the small chives you might find hanging out next to the sage and other herbs in your local store, but Chinese chives which are that bit different.
Chinese chives are related, but not the same ingredient as common chives. They are longer with a firmer end towards the base and the leaves flatten out as they head towards the tip. They can be about twice the length of common chives and usually a deeper green.
The flavor is also more garlic-like than onion-like. In fact, they are sometimes called garlic chives. This slightly milder, aromatic flavor works perfectly in these little bites. Which is just as well, as you use a lot of them!
You can find Chinese chives in the produce section of most Asian supermarkets, so do hunt them down as they do make a difference. If you can't find them, then I suggest a blend of common chives and a little garlic and/or scallion.
Tips for forming the dumplings
There are many ways to fold dumplings, so if you have a preferred way, go ahead and use that. I often use the way you can see in the video where you pinch together the two sides in the middle, then make a few pleats to either side on the one side of the dumpling. This gives the top edge a moon-shape curve.
You can use homemade or store-bought dumpling wrappers for this, as you prefer. If using homemade dough, they should seal together simply by pressing and the dough is that bit more flexible. Just take care that you roll relatively evenly and don't accidentally burst open the wrappers.
Top tip: use water to seal store-bought dumpling wrappers
Store-bought dumpling wrappers are certainly more convenient and are one less thing to prepare. You just need to watch when sealing as they can be a little drier. You should dampen the edge of the wrapper with some water before sealing to help the two sides stick. Sometimes you may want to dampen the pleats on the outside as well so they lie flat.
I like to keep a small bowl of water next to me as I make dumplings so I can dip my finger in water to help dampen the edges.
Whichever you use, just make sure they are sealed well enough to hold as they cook. And try to make sure they have enough filling to feel filled, but not so much it bursts open. Also, try to ensure you don't have air caught inside the dumpling.
Cooking and freezing dumplings
You can cook dumplings in a few ways - steaming in a steamer basket, boiling or pan-frying and streaming. All of them are good, you just get slightly different textures in the end result, so really it just depends on your preference.
I personally like either steamed or pan fried/steamed for these, as I like the slightly chewy texture in the dumpling wrapper that you get with them.
One of the great things about dumplings is that while they may take a little bit of effort to make, you can make them ahead and freeze for another time. You simply freeze them on a baking sheet, making sure they don't touch other dumplings, then transfer to a freezer bag or box once frozen.
You can then cook them from frozen, just add an extra couple minutes onto the cooking time of your preferred method. It makes such a great quick and easy snack or meal option when you need it.
These dumplings are great with a relatively simple dipping sauce, such as soy sauce with a dash of sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds and some black vinegar. Or add in a little sriracha or chili oil for a spicier kick to it.
These pork and chive dumplings are a relatively simple but flavorful combination. It's a classic for good reason, and they are delicious to snack on, whatever the occasion. They're easy to make and easy to enjoy.
Try these other tasty Chinese favorites:
- Cumin lamb dumplings
- Hong shao rao (sticky red braised pork belly)
- Chinese scallion pancakes (cong you bing)
- Har gow (crystal shrimp dumplings)
- Plus get more Chinese recipes and appetizer recipes in the archives.
Pork and chive dumplings
- 1 cup Chines chives (also sometimes called garlic chives)
- ½ lb ground pork pork mince
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 24 dumpling wrappers
- soy sauce with a little black vinegar and sesame oil for dipping or your choice of dipping sauce.
- Finely chop the Chinese chives, discarding any tough part towards the base.
- Mix together the pork, chives, soy sauce and sesame oil so that they are well combined. At first, it may seem like you have a huge amount of chives, but they will compress down a bit as you mix. If you want to test the seasoning, take a small amount of the mixture (a teaspoon or less) and place in a bowl and cook in the microwave a few seconds, or fry in a small skillet. Once cooked, you can check if it is seasoned to your taste - you could add a little finely grated ginger, ground pepper and/or additional soy sauce, for example.
- Working with a few at a time, put a spoonful of the pork mixture in the middle or slightly to one side of a dumpling wrapper so there is a gap around the edge but it otherwise fills fairly well. Dampen the edge of the wrapper with the tip of your finger then fold it in half to join in the middle around the filling. Using your thumbs and forefingers, pinch/fold on one side a few times to make pleats along the dumpling edge as you seal the edge from the middle to the tip. Then repeat on the other side (video may help with seeing how to fold). As you are folding, try to make sure you don't trap too much air inside the dumpling. Also, make sure the edge is well sealed.
- Traditional fry/steam method - heat 1-2 tablespoon oil in a skillet/frying pan over a medium heat and place some dumplings in there fairly close together. Cook for around 2-3 minutes until browned on the bottom. Add around ¼ to ⅓ cup boiling water to the pan so that water comes around ⅓ of the way up the dumplings then cover with a lid. Allow the water to steam the dumplings so they go translucent and the water evaporates. Remove lid and, if you like, brown the bases again slightly so they crisp.
- To steam - place a few dumplings in a bamboo steamer (you may want to brush with oil or line with paper or a cabbage leaf to help prevent sticking), fairly close but with gaps between them so they don't touch. Cover and place over a pot or wok with boiling water. Steam the dumplings for around 6-8 minutes until the wrapper becomes relatively translucent.
- Serve with soy sauce with a little sesame oil, black vinegar and sesame seeds added, or your choice of dipping sauce.
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