How To Make Dumplings For Chinese New Year
Mushroom dumplings in red oil. Photograph by Mr Marcus Cobden, courtesy of XU
The second most exciting thing about Chinese New Year is the fact that it’s closely tied to the Chinese zodiac, which means that each year is represented by a particular animal that determines the mood of the months to come, as well as the personality traits of people born then. This 16 February marks the start of the Year of the Dog, which apparently signifies loyalty, friendship, responsibility and honesty. This all sounds pleasingly wholesome to us, but we’re shamelessly more interested in the first most exciting thing about Chinese New Year: the food.
“Chinese New Year is all about getting together with friends and family and sharing food,” says Mr Shing Tat Chung, the founder and chef behind Xu, a revered Taiwanese restaurant nestled between Soho and Chinatown. Xu is largely a family affair, which Mr Chung runs with his wife Ms Erchen Chang and his sister Ms Wai Ting Chung. “As a family, we used to have food served banquet style with various different courses, and this always featured lobster on noodles as well as receiving red envelopes, which are small packets with money inside given to family members on special occasions,” he explains. “This doesn’t happen anymore for me though, as once you’re married, you’re the one handing out the red envelopes!”
When it comes to the food to ring in the New Year though, Mr Chung says dumplings – mouth-wateringly soft, stuffed with hearty flavours and served with a pleasantly dissonant side of black rice vinegar – are non-negotiable. “Dumplings are a great dish to eat on Chinese New Year because they’re an auspicious food that is believed to bring good luck for the coming year – it’s also a great dish to make together.” To celebrate, Xu has curated a menu of pork dumplings, which will be available to order in the restaurant from 16 February. They have also shared one of their recipes with MR PORTER, which you can find below.
Makes 20 dumplings
Boiled Pork Dumpling with Vinegar Dip
- 250g pork shoulder
- 50g pork back fat
- 3 tbsps chopped spring onion
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander stalk
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp pork lard (normal lard may be substituted)
- 1 tsp corn starch
- Dumpling dough (see below)
- 200g flour
- 1 pinch of salt
- 120g water
- 1 tsp chopped red chilli
- 1 tsp chopped ginger
- 1 tbsp chopped spring onion
- ½ clove garlic
- 75ml Chinkiang black-rice vinegar
- 1 dash sesame oil
Mix the flour, salt and water in a mixing bowl. Knead the dough until smooth, for no longer than 5-10 mins. Once done, wrap the dough up with a cling film and set aside.
To prepare the filling, start by cutting the pork shoulders or pork back fat into small cubes.
In a food processor, mix the meat with all the other ingredients for 10 mins at a low speed. If you don’t have a food processor, knead the meat by hand until the fat begins to reduce a little and the mixture becomes sticky and begins to bind. Put the meat mixture to the side and you can begin to make the dumplings.
Unwrap the dough from the cling film and divide it into 20 portions the size of a large golf ball. Grab a small rolling pin, cover it with flour, and roll out the dough until it becomes flat.
Scoop out a tablespoon of pork mixture and add it into the middle of the dough. Fold the flat dough and stick the edges together using your hands. In a separate tray, sprinkle some flour and store your pork dumplings with a small distance between them while you prepare the rest of the dumplings. Repeat above until all the dumplings are made.
Next, put on a pan of water to boil. Once the water starts to boil, put the pork dumplings in to cook for about 7-10mins on a medium-high heat. Make sure not to put too many dumplings in at once so they have plenty of space to cook.
While the dumplings are boiling, you can begin to prepare the dressing. Finely chop red chilli, ginger, spring onion, and half a clove of garlic. In a small bowl, add in a dash of vinegar and mix in the chopped chilli, ginger spring onion and the minced garlic, adding a small drop of sesame oil.
Once the dumplings are cooked, serve on a plate with the dressing.