Visually appetizing and pleasant on the palate, these naturally coloured dumplings with pork and prawn filling make a perfect festive dish for family and friends.
I hope the previous five parts of my Ultimate Dumpling Guide have given you some valuable information and inspiration. To draw my special dumpling journey to an end, I’m sharing my recipe of naturally coloured dumplings with tasty pork & prawn fillings, a festive dish to share with your loved ones on Chinese New Year (Spring Festival / 春节) or other special occasions.
A special family time around dumplings
There is no doubt that this is my favourite time of the year. To many Chinese natives like me, Spring Festival means happy family reunion and great food. Growing up in Northern China, dumplings have always been the most special food for this festival.
Apart from being tasty, what really makes them special is that their preparation involves all the family and this creates an important bond among the family members.
Four dumpling occasions around New Year
I have never learnt to make dumplings. I was just naturally welcomed by my family at a very young age to be part of the dumpling making experience. I played with the dough and messed up both the filling and the folding of the dumplings. But it was always an enjoyable time.
While making the dumplings, we would chat, laugh and occasionally peek at the Spring Festival Gala on TV. We followed the tradition, making and eating dumplings on Xiao Nian (小年, aka small Spring festival, seven days prior to the New Year), on New Year’s Eve, on New Year’s Day and on the fifth day of the New Year.
Get your family/friends involved
This is one of the reasons why I’m enjoying writing this series of dumpling posts. I treasure my cultural background and it’s a pleasure to help people to keep this tradition going, as I myself try to teach my own children, who grow up in the West, to appreciate special family moments through preparing food together.
So when you are making dumplings, get your family/friends involved. Plan a workflow and give everyone a specific task, especially when making these colourful dumplings which require a bit of extra effort and time.
How to make naturally coloured dough
This recipe calls for 4 pieces of dough in different colours. As always, I don’t use artificial food colouring. All you need is some colourful fresh vegetables:
- White dough. It’s the regular dough made of flour and water.
- Green dough. The colour comes from spinach. Briefly blanch spinach in boiling water, then blend in a food processor. Use the green juice extracted through a sieve to mix with the flour.
- Orange dough. Apply similar method to carrots. But you would need to use semi-liquid carrot puree to mix with the flour to get a stronger orange colour.
- Purple dough. It’s very easy to make this one. Just simmer chopped cabbage in water for 5 minutes. The water will gain a very intense purple colour and you are ready to mix it with the flour. No need to blend the cabbage.
Make a colourful filling
After making the green and orange dye for the dough, you will have some leftover spinach puree and carrot puree. Don’t waste them! Add them to the filling. Along with pink minced pork, white-grey prawns and brown shiitake mushroom, the filling is colourful too.
Hide a lucky nut for special occasions
For special occasions like Chinese New Year, many Chinese families would hide something in one of the dumplings. The person who eats this special dumpling is considered to be the luckiest one in the new year.
Traditionally, a piece of coin is put inside. But I would recommend a nut instead, such as peanut, cashew nut, etc. After all we wouldn’t want to rush to the ER on this special day.
Chinese New Year feast inspirations
Now you’ve learnt how to make these naturally coloured dumplings for Chinese New Year. Need inspirations on other dishes to serve for the big feast? Here are some of my recommendations:
Appetizer & Snacks
- Sichuan shredded pork with garlic sauce (鱼香肉丝)
- Dry fried green beans (干煸四季豆)
- Black pepper beef stir-fry (黑椒牛柳)
- Pan fried tofu with garlic sauce (鱼香豆腐)
Fish & seafood
Colourful dumplings for Chinese New Year
For white wrappers
- 150 g all-purpose flour
- 75 ml water
For green wrappers
- 150 g all purpose flour
- 200 g spinach
- 200 ml water
For orange wrappers
- 150 g all purpose flour
- 250 g carrot
- 150 ml water
For purple wrappers
- 150 g all purpose flour
- 200 g purple cabbage
- 150 ml water
Prepare the green dye
- Bring water to a boil. Briefly blanch spinach then drain. Transfer to a food processor to puree.
- Use a fine sieve to extract 75 ml of spinach juice for the dough (add a little water if necessary).
- Set the leftover spinach aside.
Prepare the orange dye
- Simmer sliced carrot in water for 5 minutes. Then transfer everything to a food processor. Blend until very smooth.
- Use a sieve to extract about 90g semi-liquid puree for the dough.
- Set the leftover carrot aside.
Prepare the purple dye
- Simmer purple cabbage (cut into small pieces) in water for 5 minutes.
- Drain the cabbage to get 75 ml purple liquid for the dough.
Make the dough
- Add water/green dye/orange dye/purple dye to the flour gradually. Mix until no more loose flour can be seen. Then combine and knead with your hand until smooth.
- Leave to rest covered for 40–60 minutes.
Mix the filling
- Place pork in a mixing bowl. Add salt, Sichuan pepper, soy sauce, sesame oil, oyster sauce, scallions & ginger.
- Gradually add 5 tablespoons of the water in which the shiitake mushrooms have been soaked (or just water) to the meat while swirling in one direction until no more liquid can be seen.
- Add minced prawn, mushroom and 200g carrot puree, 150g spinach puree that was left from the last process. Mix well.
Roll the wrappers
- Roll part of the dough into a rope then cut into small pieces (always keep the unused dough covered).
- Press each piece into a small disc. Then use a rolling pin to flatten it into a thin disc (Please refer to the video below). Dust with flour if the dough sticks.
Assemble the dumplings
- Place a spoonful of filling in the middle of a wrapper. Seal the wrapper into the shapes of your choice (Please refer to the video below). You can learn other shapes in my post “Ten ways to fold dumplings”).
Cooking method 1: Boiling
- Bring a pot of water to a full boil over a high heat. Gently slide in dumplings. Push them around with the back of a spoon to avoid sticking. Cover with a lid.
- When the water comes back to a full boil, add about 120 ml / 0.5 cup of cold water then cover. Repeat the procedure twice. When fully cooked, the dumplings should be plump and floating on the surface.
- Transfer the dumplings to a colander. Briefly run cold water over. Drain and serve immediately.
Cooking method 2: Pan-frying
- Heat up a little oil (just enough to cover the surface of your pan) over a high heat. Place in dumplings.
- When the bottom part of the dumplings becomes golden brown, pour in cold water (enough to cover ⅓ of the dumplings). Cover with a lid.
- Uncover when the water evaporates completely. Cook another 30 seconds or so to crisp up.
Cooking method 3: Steaming
- Place dumplings in the steamer basket (To avoid sticking: coat with oil/line with parchment paper/using carrot slices).
- Bring the water to a full boil, then place the basket in. Cook with lid on over a medium heat for around 10 minutes.
- Please be aware that measuring flour by cups is less accurate and the flour water ratio may vary depending on the brand of your flour.
- If you wish to improve your skills, check out my complete guide on “Homemade dumpling wrappers”.
- Please feel free to fill these colourful dumplings with fillings of your choice.
- You can find more ideas in my post “How to make great dumpling fillings”. Vegetarian and vegan options are included.
NUTRITION DISCLOSURE: Nutritional information on this website is provided as a courtesy to readers. It should be considered estimates. Please use your own brand nutritional values or your preferred nutrition calculator to double check against our estimates.
Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all, my dear readers, a very HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR / 春节快乐!
A little note: I have created a Youtube channel under the name “Wei’s Red House Kitchen“. Subscribe if you enjoy visual instructions.