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Dumplings… and our China life

Dumplings - Simple Living ChinaI have to say that I came to China expecting rice to be a main part of the diet.  I was excited about it because I like rice, my kids eat rice, and I can cook rice.

However, when we got here, we realized that rice is more of a south China food.  Sure, there is rice here in the north, and we still eat it, but it is not the foundation of every meal like I had thought before.

What is big here is dumplings

It isn’t the foundation of every meal, but it is the specialty here.  When people have guests, or on special days, they make dumplings.  There are lots of little shops selling dumplings along the road.

And they are really good!

However, they are very time consuming to make.  (way more than rice)

So I have been practicing with friends and trying to learn how to cook dumplings.  Here are some pictures from my practice.

dumplings - Simple Living China

Here is making the dumplings with friends last week. Such a cute little cook :)  He loves making dumplings!

Dumplings - Simple Living China

These are made by a friend of mine.  The size and shape are so nice and the filling stayed in through the boiling :)

Dumplings - Simple Living China

And here is my first solo attempt.  Not beautiful, but I am pretty proud.

Chinese Dumplings:

So, I wanted to try and explain to you how to make dumplings.  However, language barrier and the fact that I have no measuring tools over here make it a bit hard to write out a full recipe.  But I figured I would give it a try.

A very traditional and common type of dumplings is leek and egg dumplings.  Here is how to make them:

What you need (filling):

  • Leeks – chopped very small, maybe 3-4 cups worth
  • Eggs – about 6 eggs scrambled with about 1/4 cup of hot oil in the pan first.  The pieces should be very small.
  •  Salt – to taste
  • Sesame oil – It is everywhere here, if you can’t find it I am sure it will still work.  Put in about 1tbsp

Mix well and set aside.

What you need (outside)

  • Flour – maybe 4 cups-ish
  • Water – enough to make the flour dough.

Mix water into flour a bit at a time making the dough.  It should be a bit harder than bread dough, not sticky, but still able to roll out.  Let rest a few minutes.

On a floured surface roll out small balls of dough with rolling pin to make little circles.  Put in a small spoon of filling and then squeeze (really tight) the edges together.

Line dumplings up on a floured surface spacing them so they don’t touch.  Make dumplings till you run out of filling or dough.

Cooking Dumplings:

Bring water (with 1-2 tsp of salt) to a boil in a large pot.  Carefully add dumplings.  Depending on the pot and the amount of dumplings they may all fit in 1-2 batches.  As long as the water covers them and they can move around they are fine.

When the water starts boiling again add about 1-2 cups of cold water on the top.  When it starts boiling again add another 1-2 cups of cold water on top.  For vegetable dumplings you can add cold water 2 times, if you have meat in the dumplings you should add cold water 3 times.  When they come to a boil (after adding the final batch of cold water) they are done!

Pull out and serve hot.  Here is what the table looked like when we ate them this week:

Dumplings - Simple Living China

There two different kinds of dumplings.  The bottom left has cabbage, cilantro, and egg.  The top right has egg and potato (a request by my children).  The bowl at the top left has vinegar and the bottom right is a bowl of ‘dumpling soup’ (straight out of the pot after you finish cooking the dumplings)  Enjoy!


  1. Nancy Nancy

    Nice work Lorilee. They remind me of perogies, only with a lot more interesting variety of fillings. Are they sort of like perogies?

    • very similar, perogies have egg in the dough (at least all the recipes I have done) and they are a bit bigger with different filling… otherwise exactly the same.

  2. Shelly Shelly

    Yum!I love dumplings from PF Chang. I will make these soon! When making them vegan, what do you think would be a good filling? Mashed tofu and vegetables? What about food processing the veggies vs grating them? Any suggestions?
    Also, when you say “let them rest a few minutes” is it long enough to let them sit while the water boils? Is that too long? Are they sensitive in that way?
    Thanks for the authentic Chinese recipe for this classic dish! I’d love to hear about their special sauces too!

    • Shelly, they have great sauces over here but we haven’t learned how to make any yet … will work on that. I think they would do great with tofu. If you use the very firm kind with cabbage maybe? I think food processing would work fine. I just chopped mine really small because I don’t have a grater. I don’t think they are touchy on the resting. When making a lot of dumplings they can be sitting there for quite a while.. plus waiting for the water to boil. Just make sure the filling is as dry as possible, and the dough is not sticky, and they are floured as they sit and they should be fine :)

  3. Michael Michael

    Thanks! Since I have been to China, I also bought them several times in the local oriental store ( from the freezer), but this will be fun to make with the kids!

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