Daily Archives: January 30, 2011

Frugal Dinners: Making Dumplings

One of my big time and money saving tips for food is batch cooking ahead of time.  I usually cook a big, huge meal once a week for the rest of the weekdays.   Then I package them in tupperware (freeze the extra’s, if any), and eat the portions through out the week for lunch and dinners.  This works if you don’t mind eating the same thing the entire week.  If not, then try freezing some portions for next time.

Since my college days, I’ve been a huge fan of dumplings.  Some of my friends’ parents would bring them packages upon packages of the frozen ones from Chinese supermarkets, and I would drool a little inside.

Now that I’ve been working full-time, I find that having these frozen dumplings are a huge time and money saver.  I’ve gone through enough brands to know which ones are the “good” ones.  That is, they have actual meat and are not packed with fat. Yuck.

Usually, when I get them on sale they are 5 packages for $10.  Each package contains 10 dumplings (sometimes, 11).  And one package is usually enough for one meal.  After a long day at work, I just take them out of the freezer and half sear and half steam them.  Then, I dunk them into my home-made sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and hot sauce.

One time, while grocery shopping with my dad, he noticed how much I was stocking up on these frozen dumplings.  (They were on sale!)  He had valid point, which was it was processed and I had no idea what they really put in it.  Good meat, bad meat, rubbish filler, etc.  So, I put back the 10 packages I grabbed and just got enough to split the deal with my sister.

I didn’t buy any more frozen dumplings after that.  I didn’t want to think about what kind of ingredients the makes might have used – it could be bad stuff.  But since I loved dumplings so much, I decided to try making my own frozen dumplings.  It was easy and fun.

The first time I made the dumplings, I used only ground pork, chives and mushrooms.  This resulted in a slightly dry center.  The second time I made the dumplings, I revised the centers to include more moisture and also mixed in an egg and corn starch (upon recommendations of dumpling making family and friends).  This second time turned out much better and the centers were moist and yummier.

Total cost of ingredients: $8.50
Total dumplings made: 150
Cost per serving (assuming 10 dumplings): $0.57

Much cheaper, and I know exactly what went into these dumplings.  I also don’t measure my ingredients very well, so feel free to adjust accordingly.  I suggest getting just the “normal” ground pork and not the lean option since I like the extra fat for moisture.

Pork and Chives Dumplings

    • 2lb of ground pork
    • Chives finely chopped
    • Napa cabbage finely sliced
    • 2 packages of dumpling wrappers
    • 1 egg
    • 4 cloves chopped garlic
    • 1 tbsp corn starch
    • light soy sauce
    • fish sauce
    • salt & pepper
    • water
  1. Break up raw ground pork with fork.  Add garlic.  Add chives.  Season with soy sauce, fish sauce, salt and pepper.
  2. Mix corn starch with a bit of water.  Beat egg.  Incorporate starch and egg into pork mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, season napa cabbage with similar seasonings.
  4. Let napa cabbage mixture sit for 10 – 15 minutes and squeeze out excess water by hand.
  5. Mix napa cabbage and pork together.
  6. Use a teaspoon to place pork mixture into the center of dumpling wrapper.
  7. Dab the edge of half the wrapper with water.
  8. Fold wrapper over meat, and voila!  (You may need to experiment a few tries before you get the hang of how much meat mixture you want/need.)
  9. Line the completed dumplings flat on a cookies sheet or tray.  Make sure they don’t stick to one another.
  10. Pop tray into freezer for about 30 – 45 minutes until dumplings have hardened enough that they may be packed away in Ziploc bags (without becoming one big lump).
  11. Repeat until done.

Note: I only have a stainless steel skillet, and I find the easiest way to cook them is to sear them with oil to get the wrappers browned.  Then add water and cover to steam cook until finished.

Update:  A reader asked for clarifications if the meat was raw in the dumplings.  I’ve updated the directions to include that raw meat should be used.  The only time the meat is cooked is when you cook the dumpling to eat.  Or else, it would be too dry.  Hope this helps!

Enjoy!  What are some of your favourite frozen dinners that you’ve attempted?


photo source: http://www.asian-central.com/stuffasianpeoplelike/2008/05/19/75-dumplings/


Filed under Frugal Dinners