Bring your family together for homemade dumplings

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Boiled shrimp and lotus root dumplings

What dish is most associated with family gatherings? For food researcher Wu Wen, the answer is clear: dumplings. The flavor of homemade dumplings with wrappers made from scratch is particularly special, she says.

Shrimp and lotus root are festive ingredients that make the dumplings perfect for entertaining.

Boiled dumplings are considered an auspicious dish in China and are eaten during Chinese New Year celebrations.

“Making dumplings is a family affair, from making the wrappers to stuffing them with the filling,” Wu said. “It brings back memories.”

Wu firmly believes that the secret to delicious dumplings lies in the wrapper.

To make the dough for the dumpling wrapper, start with an equal mixture of bread flour and cake flour. According to Wu, doing so lets you “enjoy the flour’s texture and flavor.”

Allow the flour mixture to gradually absorb water. When the dough loses its powdery texture and begins to clump up, combine the clumps to form a single ball of dough. Then, firmly knead the dough with the base of your palm.

As you let the dough rest, begin preparing the rest of your ingredients. Wu suggests the use of foods believed to bring good luck. For example, Wu says that shrimp is associated with longevity, while lotus roots, with their joints, are a symbol of continued happiness.

A wooden cutting board or noodle board is recommended when making the dumpling wrappers. For those using a plastic cutting board, sprinkling flour onto the board before you begin is recommended.

With about 10 thrusts with a rolling pin, Wu created a beautiful circular dumpling wrapper that was just a tad thick in the center. Each time a few wrappers are made, insert the filling and close them up. Ideally, you should create many pleats in the wrapper after folding it in half.

The wrapper’s smooth and chewy texture will be apparent when you bite into a freshly made boiled dumpling.

The flour’s sweetness will excite your taste buds along with the textures of the succulent shrimp and crispy lotus root.

Shrimp with just the right amount of saltiness and a burst of umami flavor makes these boiled dumplings so great that once you start eating them, you’ll find it hard to stop.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Pan-fried dumplings

Shrimp boiled dumplings

Ingredients (for 20 pieces):

50 grams bread flour

50 grams cake flour

200 grams peeled shrimp

80 grams lotus root

2 young welsh onion leaves

1 tsp oyster sauce

½ tsp unrefined salt

½ tbsp sake

½ tbsp sesame oil

Black pepper


1. Mix the bread flour and cake flour in a bowl. Then, add in 16-17 milliliters of water and stir with chopsticks, repeat two more times for a total of 50 milliliters. When the flour clumps up, hand-knead the dough into a single ball. Knead for about 2 minutes until the dough becomes moist with a smooth surface. Then, put it in a bowl and cover with a tightly wrung wet cloth. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

2. Roughly chop up the shrimp and put it into a separate bowl. Add in a little pepper, sake, oyster sauce, unrefined salt and sesame oil, in that order. Stir after adding each seasoning. Chop the lotus root and cut the green onion into small pieces, and add them to the shrimp mixture.

3. Divide the dough into two equal portions and mold into sticks 20 centimeters in length. Cut each stick into 10 equal pieces. Sprinkle extra cake flour onto the 20 pieces. With the palm of your hand, crush each piece into a circular shape. Roll with a rolling pin from edge to center, repeating the process by slightly rotating the dough until the pieces are 8 centimeters in diameter.

4. Split the filling mixture into 20 equal portions and fill the wrappers. Seal the edges of the wrappers and create pleats from either side toward the center.

5. Boil the dumplings in plenty of water. Cover the pot with a lid, occasionally stirring to prevent the dumplings from sticking to the bottom. When the water comes to a boil again and the dumplings float to the surface, allow them to boil for another 2 minutes while keeping them under water. Then drain and serve.

Perfect for pan-frying

Pan-fried dumplings are a popular treat here in Japan, but it’s also a staple item at pushcart stalls throughout China.

“If you have any boiled dumplings left over, I’d recommended pan-frying them. They’re delicious,” Wu said.

First, lightly cover the surface of a frying pan with oil. Then, add the dumplings and a little water before covering the pan with a lid. The dumplings are already cooked, so once the wrappers are nicely browned, they’re ready to eat. The dumplings now have a delicious aroma and make for a perfect side dish.