Beef dumplings in hot & sour soup (酸汤水饺)

Served in a very tasty way, beef dumplings in hot & sour soup is warm, comforting and addictive. This recipe provides a step by step guide on how to make it at home. 

Chinese dumplings (Jiaozi, 饺子) can be cooked in several ways: water-boiled, pan-fried, steamed or deep-fried. Although they are all tasty in their own ways, my personal favourite has to be the boiled ones. To make it even better for cold winter days, I love serving them in a pungent hot & sour soup.

A classic dish from Shannxi province of China, beef dumplings in hot & sour soup (酸汤水饺) showcases one of the most loved flavour combinations of the people from that region. Since my mum was born and grew up there, I appreciated dumplings served this way at a very young age. It’s one of my ultimate comfort foods.

Make the wrappers from scratch

I always make dumpling wrappers from scratch. I have to admit it’s labor intensive and time consuming, but believe me, they are so much better than shop bought ones. Stretchy, easy to shape and seal, free from preservative and other hidden ingredients, homemade dumpling wrappers are worth all the effort! To make it easier, I have a few tips:

  • Firm dough is easier to work with than very soft ones. When rolling, dust the surface and the rolling pin with flour if it appears to stick.
  • There is no set rules on how you should roll a wrapper. Use whatever way you are most comfortable with. It takes a bit of practice to produce thin, round wrappers. But it’s not that difficult at all (My five-year-old makes perfect ones now).
  • If available, you may use a pasta machine to assist. Roll the dough into a thin, flat piece then cut out circles with a mug!

Freshly made beef dumplings lining up on the board ready to be cooked.

Make the filling tender & moist

Beef filling can be very dry if it’s not properly prepared. I always choose minced beef with high fat content (at least 10%). When it comes to mixing, the traditional method is to “Beat the filling (打馅儿)”: Add stock (e.g. homemade chicken stock) or water spoon by spoon while constantly swirl the meat towards the same direction until all the liquid is completely absorbed.

Cooking dumplings in water 

Can be trickier than it sounds, boiling dumpling does require a bit of technique and attention.

  • Use a large pot (or wok) filled with plenty of water. Cook dumplings in batches. Ideally 20-25 dumplings at a time (adjust according to the size of the dumplings).

  • Do not place dumplings in until the water is fully boiled. Then cover the pot with a lid.
  • To avoid dumplings sticking to the bottom of the pot, you may gently push them around with the back of a cooking spoon.
  • Add cold water three times when the water returns to a boil. When fully cooked, the dumplings should be bloated and floating on the surface.

Spice up the soup with big flavour

Pungent, aromatic and refreshing, the soup for this beef dumpling dish really hits the spot when you crave a big flavour. I suggest that you take your time to prepare two key condiment: Chilli oil (Please refer to my previous post Homemade Chinese chilli oil) to make it hot and spiced vinegar to make it sour. In North-western Chinese households, it’s a regular kitchen practice to simmer black rice vinegar with spices: Chinese cinnamon (cassia cinnamon), star-anise, bay leaf, fennel seeds and Sichuan pepper, etc. If you are new to this regional taste, you might find it too strong. Please feel free to adjust the quantity. But I’m sure you will soon get used to this tangy flavour and love it as I do.

Beef dumplings in hot & sour soup (酸汤水饺)
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Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 4 servings (about 40 dumplings)

Beef dumplings in hot & sour soup (酸汤水饺)

Served in a very tasty way, beef dumplings in hot & sour soup is warm, comforting and addictive. This recipe provides a step by step guide on how to make it at home.

Ingredients

    For the dough
  • 300g / 2 cups plain flour (all purpose), plus extra for dusting
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 150-160ml / 10-11 tablespoons water (see note 1)
  • For the filling
  • 300g / 10oz minced beef (see note 2)
  • 1 stalk spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Chinese five spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 150ml / 10 tablespoons chicken stock / water
  • 150g / 5oz Chinese chive, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese sesame oil
  • For the spiced vinegar
  • 80ml / 1/3 cup black rice vinegar
  • 80ml / 1/3 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar or regular sugar
  • 1 small piece Chinese cinnamon (cassia cinnamon)
  • 1 star-anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pinch fennel seeds
  • 1 pinch Sichuan peppercorn
  • For EACH bowl of soup
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese sesame oil
  • Chinese chilli oil, to taste
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Spring onion, chopped
  • Coriander, chopped
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Papery dried shrimp (Optional)

Instructions

  1. Make the dough: In a mixing bowl, add flour, salt and water. Knead with your hands (or a stand mixer with a fitted dough hook) until well combined. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. Then knead again to form a smooth dough (See note 1).
  2. Mix the filling: Mix beef, spring onion, ginger, Chinese five spice, ground Sichuan pepper, rice wine and salt. Swirl constantly in the same direction while gradually adding stock / water into the mixture until all the liquid is completely absorbed. Add Chinese chive and oil then mix well.
  3. Prepare the spiced vinegar: Simmer all the ingredients for 5 mins (cover with a lid) then drain through a sieve. Discard the spices. Set aside.
  4. Roll the wrappers: Make a loop with the dough (about 2.5 cm / 1 inch in diameter). Cut it into about 40 equal sections. Press each piece into a small disc with the palm of your hand. Then use a rolling pin to flatten it into a thin disc (always remember to dust with flour if the dough sticks).
  5. Shape the dumplings: Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of a wrapper. Fold the wrapper, then seal it (you may do it any way you like as long as you make sure there is no leakage)
  6. Cook the dumplings: Bring a large pot of water to a boil over a high heat. Gently slide in half of the dumplings (see note 3). Cover with a lid. When the water returns to a boil, pour in about 120 ml / 1/2 cup of cold water then cover. Repeat the same procedure another two times.
  7. Assemble the bowl: While waiting for the dumplings to cook, prepare the serving bowls. Pour 2 tablespoons of spiced vinegar into each bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients. Spoon in cooked dumplings along with some water from the pot.

Notes

1. The ideal flour water ratio may vary slightly depending on the brand of the flour and how you measure it (Measuring flour with cups is less accurate). To make wrapper rolling easier, the dough shouldn’t be too soft.

2. For better taste, choose minced beef which has a higher fat content.

3. It is advisable to cook dumplings in batches (20-25 dumplings at a time) to avoid them sticking to the bottom of the pot.

4. Make in advance : freeze dumplings right after they are assembled. Firstly you need to lay them on a tray (dust with flour or line with parchment paper) to freeze. Then put them in an air-tight bag when totally frozen. Follow the same cooking procedure (do not defrost).

https://redhousespice.com/beef-dumplings-soup/

Chinese New Year is just around the corner and dumpling dishes are indispensable for this most important festival of the year. Hope my beef dumplings in hot & sour soup has inspired you.

Happy cooking!

An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

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