If Chinese Dumplings are readily available where you live, you might not even consider making them yourself. I took them for granted as they were always available where I'm from, near San Francisco, so I never bothered with making them.
But they are not easily available where I live now so I make them myself. I make up a big batch and keep them in the freezer to cook up as the mood strikes.
The dough is just all purpose flour and water. And lots, and LOTS of kneading. Cover it and place in refrigerator while preparing the filling for the dumplings.
The other reason I like to make my own is that I know exactly what goes into them, and can control the quality of the ingredients.
This time I made Pork with Greens:
No Swiss Chard in the market so I used Collard Greens, minus the stems, hand chopped. You can use napa or regular cabbage, or almost any greens that you like.
Blanch for a few minutes in boiling water, then drain & squeeze as dry as possible in a clean, dampened tea towel:
Get the freshest scallions/green onions you can find, wash and trim the roots and mince them finely; use both white and greens.
Place all filling ingredients with seasonings in a bowl and mix thoroughly. I used ground pork for the filling. The seasonings are Chinese Black Vinegar, Soy Sauce, minced fresh ginger, salt, sugar, and sesame oil.
You can also make these with ground chicken or turkey instead of the pork. Or omit the meat all together add other vegetables that you like and make vegetarian dumplings.
The dough is sectioned, rolled into snake or rope shapes. Then cut into large gnocchi which are each rolled out into thin, small disks which are filled with the raw filling. To finish, they are firmly pinch-crimped, making a tight seal.
If you don't want to make your own dough, you can use wonton wrapper, sealed with a beaten egg. However, I prefer the homemade dough as it is much more tender and flavorful.
The more you make them, the more proficient you will become and the dumplings will be neater and look more uniform.
As you can see, I don't make them often enough to have become terrific at forming them! :)
But they taste good, no matter if they are perfectly shaped or not.
Once they are formed you can cook them, or freeze them. To freeze, place the entire tray into the freezer, allow them to freeze then place the dumplings in freezer containers for storage. No need to thaw before cooking.
You can serve them either simply boiled with a dipping sauce in the Beijing style (boiled and served this way they are called Jiaozi):
Or cooked in water and a little oil in a pan; when the water evaporates they will pan fry, become crisp and brown on the bottom; and are called Guotie (also known as Pot Stickers.)
Here is the recipe I use:
(Recipe may be halved if you like, just keep the ratio of flour to water at approximately 5:1)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 - 1 1/4 cups water
Boil water and add to flour. Knead on a floured board until smooth and pliable. (See notes below.)
You can mix this in a food processor, or knead it by hand which is what I do. It does take work, and a bit of time; about 20 minutes of serious kneading. Difficult and stubborn to knead at first, but eventually it will become soft , smooth and pliable under your hands. It's a good feeling of accomplishment! Cover it loosely and set in the refrigerator as you prepare and mix the filling.
This amount is enough to fill the entire recipe of dumpling skins (so halve this if you halve the dumpling recipe)
1 pound of greens, cabbage, chard, chinese cabbage, etc.
1 pound ground pork, should contain a good amount of fat
Note: Some cooks recommend adding another 2 to 3 ounces of duck or pork fat, but I don't add the extra fat
one bunch of spring onions or chives
a 2-inch or so piece of fresh ginger
3 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar
Additional optional ingredients: Mushrooms, particularly Chinese tree ear mushroom, shrimp, shredded carrots, minced water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, or other vegetables you may have on hand.
I follow the directions provided at this site; which gives lots detailed information.
(The recipe for the dough and filling is a little different, but the technique for rolling the dough, filling, forming and cooking them is the same.)
Into each dipping bowl~
Put 2 Tablespoons Chinese black vinegar*, 1 Tablespoon soy sauce, 2 drops of sesame oil, and a 1/4 teaspoon finely minced raw garlic.
* Rice Vinegar, or white vinegar can be used instead.
A couple of drops of hot chili oil can be added to the sauce if you like it spicy.