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 wine glass!
- Read my post on Homemade Dumpling Wrappers for detailed instructions and watch the video below to see the action.
▼ VIDEO: How to make dumpling wrappers
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.
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.