Chinese dumplings are very similar to Russian pelmeni. Pelmeni is a traditional Russian food, a type of dumplings usually prepared in big batches to be frozen for later use and served boiled with broth, butter or sour cream. My mom, who was born in Siberia (brrr!), used to tell me stories about how all the family would spend evenings making these small dumplings stuffed with meat and then store them outside in a big sack. No freezer is needed in Siberian winter!
Although I adore pelmeni and could eat them in pounds, they are much more work than my minuscule NYC kitchen is designed for. Forget about making dough from scratch how my mom taught me; try opening a fridge door without hitting a family member with it! Luckily, we discovered wonton wrappers at our local Whole Foods market and they made a great substitution for the real deal (I hope my mom will forgive me for this one day). We also adjusted the traditional Russian recipe for the meat filling to reflect our penchant for Asian cuisine.
The dumplings are very easy to make and they are a great way to involve your little ones in the kitchen. My 4 and 7-year-olds were a lot of help putting the filling on the wrappers and moistening the edges in order to seal the filling inside. Just make sure they wash their hands with soap after handling raw chicken before they run off to play.
The best part of making dumplings is that you do not need a recipe to experiment with other fillings. These pan-fried dumplings with chicken filling were a big hit. Next time we tried seasoned ricotta cheese for a filling and boiled them instead of frying. The kids went crazy about these homemade 10-min “ravioli”.
Encouraged by great feedback from the wee members of the family, we went on to stuff the wonton wrappers with pumpkin puree, boiled them and served them with burned butter and sage. Next, we blended sautéed mushrooms with thyme into a coarse mixture and used it as a filling for mushroom “ravioli” that we served with olive oil and grated parmesan. Ask your kids for suggestions on what to stuff inside these little squares and they may come up with some seriously delicious ideas!
All in all, this recipe is definitely one of our family favorites. The chicken dumplings are good at room temperature and even cold which makes them a perfect food for school lunchboxes. They also make perfect finger food for birthday parties.
- 1 pound ground chicken
- ½ cup grated carrot
- 1 ½ cup finely shredded Napa cabbage
- 1 teaspoon of finely minced ginger
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, divided
- ¼ cup chopped scallions, divided
- 1 ½ tablespoon of rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- wonton wrappers
- 2-3 tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
- Prepare the filling: mix together the chicken, carrot, cabbage, ginger, garlic, egg, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, most of the scallions and sesame oil.
- Using your fingertips, moisten two adjacent edges or a wrapper with water, place about 1 ½ teaspoon of filling in the center, fold the wrapper in half and seal the resulting triangle carefully.
- Prepare the dipping sauce: mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, rice vinegar and the remaining sprinkle of scallions.
- Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Pan-sear dumplings for 4-5 minutes on each side, until the chicken is cooked through and the dumplings are crisp.
- Serve with dipping sauce.