I’ve been buying store-bought dumpling skins for all my life and the other day I decided to look at the ingredients. Nothing too too bad, but a couple ingredients are preservatives and aren’t your normal-in-the-kitchen-items, so I decided to make my own skins. As a mom, I carried both my girls for nine months, breast fed them, hold them in my arms all night when they have been sick. I consider these all a labor of love and now I’m adding making homemade dumpling skins to that list. Maybe it’s because after chopping all the ingredients in my filling, I just want to wrap, but instead have to hand roll each skin. Maybe it’s because I’m just learning and with more practice the rolling will be much faster. Whatever it is makes me savor each dumpling so much more and I wish my girls would eat them a little bit slower just so they can appreciate all my hard work.
After trying a few recipes I found online, I used Andrea Nguyen from Asian Dumpling Tips‘ recipe on CHOW and Annie and Nate from House of Annie as resources to come up with the best recipe to my taste and instruction. Start by mixing the flour and salt in a large bowl and then carve out a well in the middle.
In three phases pour the just boiled water in a steady stream over the flour making sure to moisten the flour evenly. Use a wooden spoon to mix the water and flour mixture. The flour will turn into lumpy bits.
Knead the dough in the bowl to try and get the lumps into one large mass. I have quite a bit of stragglers that don’t join the mass until I start kneading on my work surface. You can also add water a teaspoon at a time to get the mass more together in the bowl before transferring to the work surface. Be careful not to add too much water and make the dough sticky.
Knead the dough for 2 minutes on your work surface until it is smooth and elastic. I like to use a Silpat to make the kneading process and cleanup easier. Place the dough in a zip-top bag, press all the air out, and let it rest for at least 15 minutes but no more then 2 hours.
After the rest, cut the dough into 4 equal pieces.
Roll each section into a 1-inch log, then cut into 8 equal pieces.
Shape each piece into a disc and then press each disc in a tortilla press or between small plates covered with plastic wrap or zip-top bags.
The tortilla press would probably make the disc flatter which would make the rolling process easier, but the plates are a good alternative (thank you Annie and Nate!).
Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the discs even more. I like my skins thin so I roll mine out so they have just enough width to hold the filling. Holding the floured disc gently in the center, use the floured rolling pin to roll back and forth pressing out the edges. Please excuse my dry dumpling mama hands, flour brings out the worst in them.
Rotate the disc until all edges are to your desired thickness. The skin should be between 3 – 4 inches long.
Now just a few notes about wrapping and cooking the homemade skin. The skin is more elastic then store-bought skin so you can put a little extra filling in your dumpling. Since my fillings have a lot of vegetables in them, I like to stuff my dumplings. Leave a half inch between the filling and the edge of the skin.
When you use homemade skin, you don’t need water or egg to seal your dumplings. To close the dumplings, press the front and back skin together and create a single pleat. Start with a middle pleat, then do two or three on each side and make sure the top is sealed completely.
I line each dumpling up on a sheet pan lined with plastic wrap after I wrap them. I cook the number of dumplings I want to eat and then place the rest in the freezer to be eaten later. To make sure the dumplings do not stick to each other while frozen, freeze the dumplings for at least thirty minutes before placing them in a zip top bag.
The process of cooking dumplings with homemade skin is the same as store-bought skin. Coat the bottom of a non-stick pan with oil. Fill the bottom of the pan with dumplings. Line them up snug. Cover the dumplings half way with water, put a cover on the pan, and cook on medium heat. After fifteen minutes check the dumplings to make sure most of the water has disappeared. Wait another five to ten minutes. When all of the water is evaporated and the bottoms are brown and crispy, the dumplings are ready to eat!
To get the dumplings out of the pan you can:
1. (take it easy and slow) Take each dumpling individually out of the pan with tongs or chopsticks.
2. (be daring and fast) Notice: should only be done with a 10″ or 12″ pan. Loosen the dumplings at the edge from the bottom of the pan with chopsticks or a wooden spatula. Grab a large dinner plate (10″) and cover the dumplings in the pan. (here comes the big finish) Flip the pan over so all the dumplings come out of the pan at once. This makes a beautiful presentation of the dumplings, something I call the dumpling flower.
I took it easy and slow to get these dumplings out this time.
The homemade fresh skin is very tasty. There is a little sponginess because they are fresh which is more noticeable when you boil the dumplings. My Grouchy Husband really likes how much crispier the bottoms of the pan fried dumplings are. I will still continue to use store-bought dumpling skins because they are a time-saver, but every chance I can, I will definitely be making my own skins because I love the idea of making a dumpling that is 100% from scratch.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup just boiled water
- ¼ tsp salt
- Put the flour and salt into a bowl, mix together, and make a well in the middle.
- Use a wooden spoon to stir the flour while you add the water in a steady stream. Add the water in three phases to allow the flour to absorb the water. Try to evenly moisten the flour. The flour should turn into lumpy bits.
- Knead the dough in the bowl to bring all of the lumps into one mass. If the dough does not come together, add water by the teaspoon until it does. The dough should not be sticky.
- Transfer the dough to a hard work surface. I like to use a silpat. Knead the dough for 2 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Seal the dough in a zip-top bag making sure to press out all air within the bag and let it rest for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours. The dough will steam up the bag and become soft and easy to work with.
- After the rest, cut the dough into 4 equal sections.
- Roll each section into a 1-inch thick log, then cut it into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a rounded disc. Lightly flour the top and bottom of the disc.
- Use a tortilla press or two small plates covered in plastic wrap to flatten each dough disc.
- Use a floured rolling pin to roll out the disc even more. Holding the flattened disc gently, use a floured rolling pin to press out the outer edges of the disc. Roll back and fourth, continuing to rotate the disc until all edges have been pressed out to your desired thickness. The dumpling skin cannot be too thin because it has to hold the filling without it breaking the skin. Add flour if necessary to keep the dough from sticking and tearing. The final skin should be between 3 and 4 inches long.
- Note: If you do not use the dough right away, refrigerate it overnight and return it to room temperature before using.
Happy dumpling skin making,