The Dumpling Recipe I Learned From My Mom & My Ex

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Refinery29's My Kitchen Sink is an exploration of our most meaningful recipes — the go-to dishes that we turn to time and again. Not only do we enjoy eating them, and have the the assembly mastered, but they also have an important personal history. Step into our kitchens to relive these stories, learn the recipes, and make them with us.
Today, we're making dumplings. Refinery29's Senior Editor of Content Strategy (and dumpling assembly master), Jess Chou, is teaching us the secrets of making ground pork dumplings (with homemade dough) from scratch. How exactly has she perfected this savory favorite? "It's easier than people think it is," Jess says. It's a recipe that has grown with her over time and boils down to a mixture of childhood memories and romantic influences. She learned the folding technique from her mom, borrowed the dough recipe from a cookbook, and picked up the filling from her former high school sweetheart. "He taught me to make dumplings in college — we would fold them on his twin bed with a [portable] desk," she says.
After recent date-night attempt that got a little too messy, Jess mostly sticks to making these dumplings with a close group of friends or solo. And since making them is a something of a project, she suggests storing a fresh batch in the freezer for future snacking: "I can make them very quickly by just boiling some water and popping in three, four, or however many I want."
Click ahead to watch Jess as she shows us just how easy making this recipe can be — and why a dumpling assembly line is definitely something to consider for your next dinner party.
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Jess's Dumplings

Dough Ingredients
1 cup hot water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp sesame or vegetable oil
Pinch of salt

Dough Instructions
1. Pour flour and salt into a large bowl and form a well.

2. Pour in ¾ cup hot water and sesame oil, and then stir together with a wooden spoon.

3. Add more water tbsp by tbsp until the dough comes together — lumpy, but not sticky.

4. Knead dough until you get a large mass that is smooth and pliable and not sticky at all. Wrap in plastic wrap and rest for 15 minutes (up to 3 hours) at room temp. Can be refrigerated.

Filling Ingredients
1 lb. ground pork
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
2-3 stalks green onions, diced (separate out the green stalks from the white)
1 tsp ginger, grated
¼ cup chicken broth
1 egg

Filling Instructions
1. On a cutting board, place the ground pork and start breaking it down with a cleaver or chef’s knife.

2. Drizzle on soy sauce and sesame oil and continue breaking it down until smooth.

3. Add in white parts of the green onions and ginger.

4. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and stir in green onions and chicken broth. The mixture should be smooth like meatballs.

5. Add in chicken broth and stir to combine, then do the same with an egg to bring it all together.

Dumpling Assembly
1. Separate dumpling dough into two (or three) sections and roll into logs.

2. Take some corn starch and put it over your cutting board and rolling pin to coat.

3. Slice one inch sections of the dough and roll into circles with cornstarch, turning the dough ever so often to create a circle.

4. Once you have a circle roughly 3-4 in. in diameter, fill with roughly 1-2 tbsp of filling. Wet the edges with water and then fold (however you want, really, no one is judging).

5. Place on a plate or cookie sheet dusted with corn start so it doesn’t stick. You can freeze them at this point to save or cook them to enjoy immediately.

Cooking Instructions
1. Boil water in large pot and place dumplings inside until they float to surface — remove onto paper towel-lined plate and let cool before serving.

2. Pan fry in sesame oil over medium high heat — remove onto paper towel-lined plate and let cool before serving.
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What’s the best response you've had to this dish?
"When I made them with my friends in Hawaii. One of my best friends from childhood is obsessed with dumplings. It’s his favorite food. We went to go visit him because he couldn’t come home for Christmas, and it was our little present to him. He was practically dancing because he was so excited."

Who was the last person you made this for?
"The last person I made this for was for a date. It wasn’t my idea, though! A lot of people think this is a good date activity but I personally think raw ground pork is kind of gross, so it’s not a particularly romantic event. It’s more a platonic friend party event."

How much did you spend on the ingredients for this recipe?
"The flour and sauces I didn't buy because they were already in my pantry — everything else I bought at Whole Foods for $14.69."
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Where do you get your cooking inspiration from?
"Lots of cookbooks — I read a lot of them even though I don’t always follow recipes. And remembering dishes my mom made, or eating out and finding flavor combinations that are really great."

What is your favorite dish that your family taught you?
"My mom taught me how to make salmon and it’s my go-to."

What’s your favorite food memory from your childhood?
"My parents are from Taiwan, so when I visit my grandparents in Taipei I get really hungry at really weird hours (really late at night). One time when I was a kid, I was starving and my dad brought me to this hole in the wall where they were serving dry noodles. It was the best meal. And it was nice too to see my dad in his element — he grew up getting noodles from this place; it was his go-to."
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What is one thing you always have in your fridge?
"Miso and butter."

What ingredients do you splurge on and what do you skimp on?
“I splurge on better quality protein like fish and nice pork belly. And I usually skimp on green onions — they’re like 50 cents in Chinatown and $1.99 at whole foods. They’re just green onions!”

How much is your typical grocery bill?
“It ranges from $25 to $30. I usually go once a week for the major things, like bulk leafy greens or a bulk fruit.”
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