Basic steamed dumplings are among my favorite meals for hectic nights because they’re not incredibly time consuming. They’re also appealing for a vegetarian meal, although meat eaters have seemingly endless possibilities for stuffing rounds of dough with any kind of savory meat filling.
I always start by using purchased wonton skins as the dough. These skins, which are available in various shapes and sizes, are widely available, are inexpensive, need no prep, cook quickly and are easy to work with.
For the filling, you can use virtually anything you like. Seasoned ground meats (pork, poultry or even beef all work quite nicely) are wonderful, especially when combined with diced vegetables, such as carrots and onion. The only trick is to make certain ingredients aren’t watery, as this will ruin the texture of the dumplings.
If your filling contains many vegetables, it’s a good idea to give them a quick stir-fry before adding them to the mixture. This helps remove excess water. For smaller amounts of vegetables, this isn’t necessary. You’ll also want to opt for lean ground meats.
For this dumpling recipe, I went vegetarian and used seasoned and baked tofu in the filling. If you’d rather use meat, substitute an equal amount of diced or ground meat and skip the food processing step. You also will need to steam for a bit longer. I used a simple fold-and-pinch method of forming the dumplings.
If you make a lot of dumplings, consider getting a dumpling press sold for just a few dollars at Asian markets. These clamshell-style presses neatly fold and crimp the dumplings into attractive packets.