Juicy Pork Dumplings

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JOY: The Juicy Pork Dumplings at Din Tai Fung are little bites of heaven. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could figure out how to make them ourselves?

MARY: Seriously? I don’t know… wouldn’t it be easier to just go there again for lunch? We’d have to make dough.  And figure out how to get the broth inside the buns. It seems so complicated…

And so began our quest to replicate the Juicy Pork Dumplings from Din Tai Fung.

Mary came up with the solution to the dough problem.

Actually, it was a trick she learned from her mom.

Many moons ago, Mary’s mom took a Chinese cooking class in which the instructor revealed an Ancient Chinese Secret:  Pillsbury Biscuit Dough!  Simply peel the wrapper off the can and listen for that glor-ious P-O-P!  Remove a biscuit, roll it out as thin as possible, and cut it with a 4-inch biscuit cutter (or empty soup can, or juice glass).  Now it’s ready to be filled with pork filling and broth. But how do you get the broth into the dumpling? 

Well, Joy had a little secret, too.

Gelatin.

The Cook’s Illustrated recipe for Quick Homemade Chicken Stock yields a nice, thick broth due to the good-for-you collagen that comes from the chicken bones.  But, since that isn’t quite thick enough, Joy added 1 Tbsp. of unflavored gelatin softened in 3 Tbsp. of water and dissolved it into 2 cups of hot stock.  After refrigerating in a 9×13″ pan for 45 minutes, we had our very own jello shots gelatinized chicken stock.

Joy cut the stock into 1/4 inch squares – and we put 3 or 4 of these cubes into each little dumpling, along with our ginger-sesame pork filling.

Once we filled 20 dumplings (two packages of biscuits) we loaded them into a bamboo steamer and cooked them for 4 minutes.

The dough puffed up, the kitchen filled with the smells of sesame, scallions and pork, and the steam turned our little jello squares into beautiful liquid chicken broth – inside the dumplings! Magic!

It was a little bit of work to make these tasty treats, but totally worth it. If you don’t have a Din Tai Fung restaurant in your area, and you want to experience for yourself the magic of juicy dumplings, this recipe will do the trick.

Juicy Pork Dumplings
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Recipe type: Appetizer or Main Dish
Author:
Serves: 3 to 4
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. unseasoned ground pork
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced green onion
  • 1 Tbsp. finely diced shitake mushroom
  • 1 Tbsp. Mirin or Shaoxing wine
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. finely minced ginger
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 packages Simply Pillsbury biscuits
  • Joy’s chicken broth, cubed *
  • Black vinegar, soy sauce, and julienned ginger for dipping sauce
Instructions
  1. Heat 2 cups of Quick Homemade Chicken Stock to a simmer. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. of unflavored gelatin over 3 Tbsp. of warm water to soften. Stir the softened gelatin into the simmering broth until dissolved. Pour the mixture into a 9×13″ pan and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes. Cut into ¼-inch squares.
  2. Blend the pork, onion, mushroom, wine, soy sauce, ginger, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl.
  3. On a lightly floured board, roll out one biscuit at a time as thin as possible. Using a 4-inch biscuit cutter (or empty soup can, or juice glass) cut one or two wrappers from each biscuit, re-rolling, as necessary.
  4. Place about a teaspoon of the filling and three chicken stock cubes in the middle of each wrapper, then pinch and fold the wrapper in a pleated fashion and twist to seal. Place them on a lightly floured board until they are all ready to go.
  5. Fill the bottom of a wok or a frying pan with water to 2-inches deep. Heat to simmering. Cut 20 small squares of parchment paper to line the inside of the steamer basket (10 squares for each layer). Place a dumpling on each square, but do not let them touch each other, or the sides of the steamer. Carefully lift the covered steamer basket and set it in the simmering water. Steam for 4 minutes.
  6. Serve immediately with a dipping sauce of 3-parts black vinegar, 1-part soy sauce, and 10 julienned strips of fresh ginger per person.

 

6 Responses to Juicy Pork Dumplings

  1. We have been addicted to DTF since our first visit there. I decided to see if I could make them myself and came across your recipe…..wow! They were great!! I opted for the wonton wrappers, and they worked really well. I just need more practice sealing them. We also did a vegetarian one that we thought was even better than the DTF veggie ones. I had sautéed rainbow chard, a gourmet blend of mushrooms and spinach for part of breakfast, so used those leftovers to chop up and put inside a few wrappers as well. Fabulous!

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  3. Joy,
    I had the juicy pork dumplings at DTF the day before you wrote this and let me tell you they were de-lish! I asked Julie…how do they get that broth in there???? You are one clever lady! Can’t wait to try them out! I have made dumplings before using xtra llarge wonton wrappers. Do you think those would work instead of the dough?

    • Mo ~ We tried Gyoza wrappers, but they seemed to glue-y. We decided they were meant for pan-frying. However, I did look up Wonton vs. Gyoza wrappers and learned that Wonton wrappers are thinner that Gyoza wrappers. I’m going to try using Wonton wrappers next time and I’ll bet that’s the closest match to those heavenly juicy dumplings at DTF. Let me know if you try it first!

  4. Well…..I want to hear how they turned out? Did the dough absorb the broth? Was the pork mixture perfect? Did the juice explode in your mouth? It is like a movie trailer that I just have to know the ending to…….My mouth is watering-and has been since we dined at Din Tai Fung on Monday and I have tried “re-routing” all my business lunches this week back to Bellevue.

    Looking forward to hearing more.
    ~M~

    • Michelle~

      Here’s the bottom line: if there is a Din Tai Fung near you (there are only 2 in the US), go there and enjoy the wonderfully juicy dumplings in the tender, thin wrapper. If you can’t get there, these are definitely an exceptional substitute! Just like at the restaurant, they do need to be eaten quickly, while piping hot, or the juice does get absorbed by the dough.

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