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Joey Skladany is a self-proclaimed basic bitch. Which is why it should come as no surprise that our editor-at-large’s first cookbook, “Basic Bitchen,” is a cheeky ode to life’s simple, gloriously Instagrammable pleasures. His millennial pink-tinged (of course!) cookbook is peppered with over 100 recipes for your basic bitch at heart—from Pumpkin Spice Lattes to fluffy pancakes—filled with Joey’s wit, humor, and undeniable passion for bottomless mimosas at brunch.
It’s here that Joey flaunts his pure idolization of pork dumplings. Joey, after all, is a pork dumpling aficionado—a dumpling stan, if you will. His twist on these classic dumplings, plump with a garlicky mix of ground pork, napa cabbage, and ginger, pay homage to and are inspired by some of his favorite Chinatown dumplings shops—the type of spot that shepherds out styrofoam boxes brimming with a mountain of juicy fried dumplings.
“One of my favorite pastimes is bouncing from place to place in Chinatown to grab $4 plates of dumplings,” Joey says.
But now that many restaurants have been shuttered and Americans are spending more time in their own kitchens, Joey wants to make certain that you, too, can replicate a version of these pork dumplings in the comfort of your home. And he’s here to help.
For the uninitiated, the trickiest part of preparing dumplings at home is mastering the pleating. And while pinching dumpling wrappers seems like it’ll require exceptionally adept and quick-working fingers, Joey promises that with a little practice, anyone can make dumplings at home—even if they don’t, well, look like they emerged out of the kitchen of your favorite restaurant. So how can you, too, succeed in eschewing takeout for the homemade variety?
“I’d say the biggest crime against dumplings is that people tend to overfill them,” Joey explains. “It’s much easier to pleat when you have more dough to work with, so don’t go overboard with the pork inside. Also, pleating doesn’t have to be perfect. I like to first seal the dumpling completely and then start from one side to the other.”
Below you’ll find Joey’s recipe for Pfft to Portion Control Pork Dumplings from “Basic Bitchen.” The filling boasts a mix of ground pork, garlic, ginger, napa cabbage, eggs, soy sauce, and sesame oil, which is gently folded into individual dumpling wrappers. Once they’ve been sealed (don’t forget to wet your fingers as you pinch the wrapper shut), you’ll sear them in a pan until the bottoms are crispy and brown, ready to be mopped up with a rice vinegar- and soy sauce-based dipping sauce. The best part? This recipe yields nearly 60 dumplings, so if you don’t plan on housing all at once—which Joey proudly claims he could probably do—freeze the rest for a rainy day.
Boys on Grindr looking for “friends” are like me walking into a Chinese restaurant and looking for bok choy. Lies and deceit. When I want dumplings, I want them bad. And like fries and sushi, I sometimes think dumplings are one of those foods that can carve an endless pit in my stomach. If they’re cooked right and paired with a sweet-and-spicy sauce, I can keep going and going and the results are far from pretty. Have you ever seen a horse excitedly eat grain from a bucket? That horse is me, except with dumplings, so someone please put me out to pasture before my dreams of being on My 600 lb. Life (and becoming everyone else’s problem) turn into a reality.
Pfft to Portion Control Pork Dumplings
Prep Time: 1 hour Cook Time: 50 minutes Makes: 55-60 dumplings
- FOR THE PORK DUMPLINGS: 1 pound napa cabbage (about 1 /2 head), finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger (from a 2-inch piece)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 /4 cup finely chopped scallions (4 or 5 large scallions)
- 1 /4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Kosher salt
- 60 round dumpling wrappers
- Vegetable oil, for frying
- FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE: 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 /4 cup soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 scallion (white and pale green parts only), finely chopped
- 1 /4 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
- Make the pork dumplings: Place the cabbage in a bowl, sprinkle the salt evenly over it, and set aside for 15 minutes at room temperature. Wring out the excess water from the cabbage.
- In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, pork, ginger, garlic, sugar, scallions, cilantro, soy sauce, sesame oil, and eggs. Season with salt and mix to combine.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Fill a small bowl with water and set it nearby. On a clean work surface, lay out a few dumpling wrappers. Add a scant 1 tablespoon of the filling to each wrapper. Dip your finger in the water and dampen the edges of one wrapper. Starting from the right side, begin to pleat your dumpling. Pinch the corner to seal and then fold over a small flap, creating your first pleat; repeat as many or as few times as you’d like until you have sealed the dumpling. Use extra water if necessary to make sure the dumpling is sealed. Place the finished dumplings in rows on the prepared baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.
- In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add 8 to 10 dumplings to the pan at a time, making sure that they are not touching. Cook until the bottoms being to turn golden brown. Add a few tablespoons of water to the pan and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low and allow the dumplings to cook through, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Repeat with the remaining dumplings, adding another tablespoon of oil to the pan before each batch.
- Make the dipping sauce: In a medium bowl, combine the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, scallion, and sesame seeds. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Serve with the dumplings.
- JUST THE TIPS After seasoning your pork mixture, cook off a tablespoon in a sauté pan and give it a taste to make sure it is seasoned properly before forming all of your dumplings. Once your dumplings are formed, you can freeze them in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Frozen dumplings take about twice as long to cook as fresh dumplings (6 to 8 minutes).