From Bhutan and Japan to Uzbekistan.

Are you and your family tired of your recipe repertoire?  Looking for a new fun family activity in this era of social distancing? I have a suggestion via a Bhutanese friend who taught us to make dumplings.  Dumpling making is a great way to enlist willing helpers (in your pod) – and the result is a memorable meal.  Dumplings are a staple in many cultures, and each has its own basics and variations to keep you interested. Below we have listed some of our favorite recipes from Uzbekistan to Japan.

MOMO Bhutanese Dumplings, served with soy-vinegar-chili dipping sauce

The recipe calls for yak meat or ground beef.  My Bhutanese friend taught me to use ground beef, ground turkey or chicken.  Makes four dozen dumplings in an hour and fifteen minutes.

Ingredients

For the dumplings

½ lb. ground beef, ground chicken or ground turkey

½ onion, finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 ounce of red or white wine, cranberry juice of white grape juice

2 teaspoons of flour

2 teaspoons of soy sauce

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, finely minced

1 (12 ounce) package of Wonton wrappers

Several large lettuce or cabbage leaves

For the Dipping Sauce

¼ cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

1 teaspoon chili oil

Directions

  1. Using your hands, thoroughly mix the ground meat with the onion, garlic, wine, flour, soy sauce and jalapeno.
  2. Lay out a few of the wonton wrappers and spoon a small amount of the filling into the center of each.
  3. Fold the wonton wrapper in two and then pinch the edges to make a tight seal.
  4. Line your steamer basket with the cabbage or lettuce leaves.
  5. Add the dumplings (do not let them overlap) and steam for 30 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the dipping sauce ingredients.
  7. Serve the dumplings hot with the dipping sauce.

Uzbek Manti – Steamed Dumplings, served with hot Greek yogurt

Dough Ingredients

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup water

1 tablespoon salt

1 egg

Directions

  • Mix the salt with the water and egg until it is fully dissolved.
  • Add flour to this mixture.
  • Knead well for 10 minutes until the dough comes together and is smooth.
  • Cover and set the dough aside for 30 minutes to rest.
  • Roll out the dough into a large circle shape, approx. 1/10 of an inch thick, on a floured surface. You will need a big surface area to do this so if the kitchen counter is too small, you can roll it out on a table.
  • Cut approx. 1.5” square pieces from the log.

Meat filling

1 lb. of ground beef, chicken, or turkey

1 lb. to 1.5 lb. onion (more onion makes the filling juicier)

2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon salt

Pumpkin filling

1 lb. pumpkin, cut into small cubes or grated food processor

½ lb.+ onion, finely dices

2 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon salt

Making the Manti

  • Put about a tablespoon of filling into a square piece of dough and fold it into whichever shape you desire.
  • Fill a tiered steamer with water. Lay out the Manti and then steam for approximately 20 minutes until the dough is al dente and the filling is fully cooked through.
  • Serve hot with Greek yoghurt and salad.

Japanese Gyoza can be steamed, fried, or boiled – recipe.

INGREDIENTS

1 packet 50 gyoza wrappers

Filling:

1/8 cabbage

1 teaspoon salt

1 lb. lean ground pork or chicken

1/2 bunch garlic chives, finely chopped

4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in hot water and finely chopped

1 tablespoon grated ginger

2 teaspoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil, plus 2 teaspoons extra, for cooking

Pinch of salt

Dipping sauce:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

La-yu (Japanese chili oil), optional

Preparation:

Dice cabbage finely and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Give it a bit of a massage. Leave for 10–15 minutes and then squeeze with your hands to remove any moisture.

With your hands thoroughly mix cabbage, ground meat, chives, mushrooms, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and pinch of salt.

Dry your hands completely (or wrappers will stick). Place a gyoza wrapper on one hand and put 1 teaspoon filling in center of wrapper.

Brush edge of half the wrapper with cold water. Make a semi-circle by folding the wrapper in half. Pinch open sides of wrapper together with your fingers and seal the top.

Place a large frying pan over medium-high heat, add 2 teaspoons sesame oil and arrange 20–25 gyoza in pan. Add 1 ¾ cups water to cover bottom of pan, cover with lid and cook on medium-high heat for 6–7 minutes or until translucent, cooked and no liquid is left in pan. Take off lid and cook for another 30–60 seconds for the bottoms to go crunchy. Cook remaining gyoza or freeze them.

Mix soy sauce, vinegar, and chili oil, if using. Serve gyoza hot with dipping sauce.

Want to know more about dumpling wrappers? 

Dumpling wrappers, also known as dumpling skins, gyoza wrappers, or pot sticker wrappers, are thin sheets of dough made with wheat flour and water. … Wonton wrappers can be substituted, though they lack dumpling wrappers’ thin edge and will not pleat as well.  A great shortcut is buying premade dumpling wrappers.  Your grocery store may have them, our local Whole Foods carries them and so do Chinese specialty grocers.

If you’re feeling adventurous, Here is an Epicurious recipe for homemade dumpling wrappers.

These work particularly well if you are making a specialized kind of dumpling (like a soup dumpling that may need a more robust dumpling wrapper) but are much more work than buying premade wrappers. Most people I know who make dumplings will tell you the premade wrappers are just as good, if not better, than some homemade versions.

If you want to get extra fancy, consider these Ten ways to fold dumplings. This can also be helpful if you’re making multiple dumplings at the same time. It will be hard to tell the difference between a fully cooked vegetable and beef dumpling if you do not keep them separated during cooking but using different folding techniques can make identification simple.

For cooking I recommend you invest in a bamboo steamer. These lightweight steamers sit on top of any pot of boiling water and cook dumplings effectively and fully. They are easy to use, easy to wash and make you look like a pro. Once you know the dumplings have cooked through on the steamer you can pop them off and give them a quick fry in a pan if you prefer crispy outsides.

Bamboo Steamers, 6” – $18.95,  and 10” – $24.95

Gyoza: The Ultimate Dumpling Cookbook: 50 Recipes from Tokyo’s Gyoza King – Pot Stickers, Dumplings, Spring Rolls and More!  $12.79

One of my daughters has particularly enjoyed experimenting with dumpling making and recommends this book. It includes both specific recipes and helpful sections such as “the gyoza pantry” that talks you through how to pick the best ingredients for any dumpling making adventures.