Dumplings are much loved in the Chinese culture and they feature prominently during the Chinese New Year. The term dumpling is actually a broad classification for a dish that are made of small pieces of dough, rolled thinly, and wrapped around a filling. During the Chinese New Year, pork dumplings are often served, cooked using a variety of methods. The most common would be boiling, frying, steaming, or boiling then lightly frying.
While it’s made of pork, the dumplings are light because the ground meat is mixed with chopped vegetables and herbs. Usually, a piece of dumpling is dipped in a special soy sauce based dipping sauce. While there are many variations to making Chinese dumplings, there is a signature taste and aroma associated with it because of the usual culinary herbs added to it. These are chives and ginger.
I personally love dumplings so I was thrilled when I was invited to be one of the judges of the cook-off, together with Stone Ang of 365 Modern Cafe and Honey Grace Catalan, baker and former restaurateur who also hosted the event.
Four schools joined in the competition: University of St. La Salle (USLS), College of Arts and Sciences of Asia and the Pacific (CASAP), VMA Global College, and the Southland College Kabankalan.
Each team was composed of four members and they were given 1 hour and 30 minutes to prepare pork dumplings cooked in three different ways — boiled, steamed, and fried. They were to prepare 8 dumplings for each presentation, for a total of 24 dumplings. Robinsons Supermarket provided all the ingredients for the cook-off.
I was blown away by the technique and creativity of the teams. While I also cook my own dumplings, I still learned from them, especially that I don’t make my own wrapper. It’s just too tedious for me. Some of them added herbs in the wrapper dough. Others boiled the dumplings in aromatic vegetables. One extracted carrot juice to color their dough. Really creative.
It was a close fight, with two teams showing great promise. But during the taste test, one team came out as a surprise because of the taste. Eventually, the USLS team came out the winner because of awesome technique, exceptional creativity, and flavor. Plus, they prepared three different meat fillings for their three kinds of dumplings and three different sauces as well. And their dumpling wrapper is perfect. It was already obvious while they are still working the dough.
It really pays to research about what you need to cook before joining a contest, especially if it’s international cuisine.
However, the most authentic-tasting Chinese dumplings came out from the VMA Global College team. I had to mention VMA because they turned out really good Chinese dumplings in terms of taste.
Congratulations to all the teams who joined. You turned out great work!
Chinese Pork Dumplings Recipe
Here’s a recipe for Chinese pork dumplings that I got from Allrecipes.com. I haven’t tried the exact same mix though.
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Chinese chives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon chile-garlic sauce (such as Sriracha®)
1 pound ground pork
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons Chinese chives, finely chopped
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
50 dumpling wrappers
1 cup vegetable oil for frying
1 quart water, or more as needed
Combine 1/2 cup soy sauce, rice vinegar, 1 tablespoon chives, sesame seeds, and chile sauce in a small bowl. Mix well. Set aside.
Mix the ground pork, garlic, egg, 2 tablespoons chives, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger in a large bowl until thoroughly combined. Place a dumpling wrapper on a lightly floured work surface and spoon about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle. Wet the edge with a little water and crimp together forming small pleats to seal the dumpling. Repeat with remaining dumpling wrappers and filling.
Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place 8 to 10 dumplings in the pan and cook until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Pour in 1 cup of water, cover and cook until the dumplings are tender and the pork is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Repeat for the remaining dumplings.
Maria Sigrid D. Lo is a multi-awarded Bacolod lifestyle blogger and social media advocate. It is her desire to make the city known to the world through her online presence. She promotes Bacolod restaurants, food tourism, social media etiquette, breastfeeding, and a greener Bacolod City in her blogs and talks. She loves taking photos, mostly of her children and of food. She is a proud member of the Negrense Blogging Society Inc. (NBSI) or the #NegrosBloggers.