Six dumpling sauces (Ultimate Dumpling Guide part 5)

From the simplest to more sophisticated versions, this guide offers six inspiring dumpling sauces which will take your dumpling dishes to another level.

Dumplings can be made with a variety of tasty fillings, but an important aspect of the culinary experience of dumplings is the accompanying sauce. In the fifth part of my Ultimate Dumpling Guide, I’m sharing 6 dumpling sauces, from the simplest to more sophisticated versions. I hope they inspire you to make your dumpling dishes even more scrumptious.

There are many ingredients that can be used in dumpling sauces. I like to mix and match them based on my preferred taste on the day and of course the specific dumpling filling. Before getting into my 6 dumpling sauces, let me share a few general tips:

  • Homemade chilli oil is essential (unless you don’t eat hot food at all). Sometimes that’s all you need for a nice accompaniment to dumplings (Click HERE to see the recipe).
  • Chinese black rice vinegar is also essential. Its unique aroma really works with dumplings. There isn’t really a substitute for it. But if you do struggle getting hold of it in your local store, use balsamic vinegar instead.
  • If you make soy sauce based sauce, you may need to adjust the saltiness of your dumpling filling.
  • Toasted sesame oil is alway a good additional too. It offers a nice nutty fragrance. But use it in moderation as it can easily overpower the dumpling flavour. 
  • Always taste a few plain dumplings before you start dipping. No matter how lovely the sauce is, I think the filling of your dumplings deserves to be appreciated on its own.

No. 1: GINGER & VINEGAR SAUCE

This sauce is inspired by the traditional dipping sauce for the famous Shanghai Xiao Long Bao (小笼包, soup dumplings). Thin strands of ginger are infused in fragrant Chinese black rice vinegar. I add a few drops of honey to balance its sourness. Fresh dill adds another layer of flavour and a prettier look. Out of my 6 dumpling sauces, this is the simplest to make.

For 2 servings, you will need:

  • 3 tablespoons black rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, julienned
  • Dill, to taste

No. 2: GARLIC & VINEGAR SAUCE

This is another dumpling sauce based on Chinese black rice vinegar (it’s really essential in Chinese cooking). Minced garlic is half cooked by hot oil. This is a common method in Chinese cuisine. It reduces the spiciness of the garlic but increases it aroma. Fresh chilli and coriander make the sauce more flavoursome and appetizing. If you wish, you can replace fresh chilli with homemade chilli oil. This sauce can be used in salad too, eg. Chinese cabbage salad.

For 2 servings, you will need:

No. 3: SPRING ONION OIL SAUCE

This simple sauce is inspired by Shanghai Cong You Mian (Spring onion oil noodles). The hot oil extracts the aroma from the spring onion. Fragrant, savoury with a hint of sweetness, it’s a very tasty and easy sauce to make. 

If you have more time, I recommend you make a big batch of Spring onion oil (simmering spring onion in oil), It’s such a delicious and versatile condiment to have in your kitchen. Click my post to learn How to make & use spring onion oil (葱油).

For 2 servings, you will need:

No. 4: SPICY TOMATO DIP

I learnt to make this sauce from my Tibetan friend Dawa when I was living in Switzerland. She made beef momos for a multicultural party and served them with this dip. I fell in love with it straightaway. The great thing about this sauce is that you can adjust the ingredients based on your own taste. My suggestion is a mild version. Increase the volume of garlic / fresh chilli if you fancy a more pungent taste.

Another tip: I often use this sauce to cook minced meat served with noodles. Simply delicious!

For 4 servings, you will need:

  • 250g / 9oz peeled and deseeded tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 1 fresh chilli, or to taste
  • 2-4 strands coriander
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce

No. 5: SICHUAN DUMPLING SAUCE

This sauce is for real hot food lovers like me. The idea comes from Zhong Shui Jiao (钟水饺), one of the signature dishes of Sichuan cuisine. It provides a mixed flavour of spiciness, sweetness and saltiness. Tangy yet refreshing, it takes your dumpling dish to another level! Unlike the other dipping sauces mentioned above, this sauce is usually mixed with freshly boiled dumplings in individual serving bowls.

It takes a bit of effort to make the sauce though. You need to firstly make some spiced sweet soy sauce (复制酱油). I suggest you make a big batch at a time. You can use it to dress or season other dishes too. For ingredients and instructions for this special soy sauce, please see note 1 in the recipe box below.

Homemade chilli oil is essential too. You can find detailed recipe and video tutorial in my post on “Make your own Chinese chilli oil”. Believe me! It’s all worth the effort.

For 1 serving, you will need:

  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan spiced sweet soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon homemade chilli oil, or to taste
  • Spring onion, finely chopped

No. 6: HOT & SOUR DUMPLING SOUP

You don’t always have to serve dumplings dry or with sauce. Try this speciality from Xi’an, home to the famous Terracotta Army. Boiled dumplings are served in a tasty and tangy soup. The classic version of this soup calls for homemade spiced vinegar. I’ve given detailed instructions in my post on how to make Beef dumplings in hot & sour soup. Check it out if you wish. Alternatively you may use regular black rice vinegar.

For 1 serving, you will need:

  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons black rice vinegar / homemade spiced vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon papery dried shrimp
  • 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Coriander, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon homemade chilli oil, or to taste

▼ VIDEO

Six dumpling sauces
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Six dumpling sauces

From the simplest to more sophisticated versions, this guide offers six inspiring dumpling sauces which will take your dumpling dishes to another level.

Ingredients

    No. 1: Ginger & Vinegar Sauce (2 servings)
  • 3 tablespoons black rice vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, julienned
  • Dill, to taste
    No. 3: Spring Onion Oil Sauce (2 servings)
  • 1 tablespoon spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1.5 tablespoon hot oil
  • 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon black rice vinegar
    No. 4: Spicy tomato dip (4 servings)
  • 250g / 9oz ripe tomatoes, peeled and deseeded
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 slices ginger
  • 1 fresh chilli, or to taste
  • 2-4 strands coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon light soy sauce
    No. 5: Sichuan Dumpling Sauce (1 serving)
  • 1 tablespoon Sichuan spiced sweet soy sauce (see note 1)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon homemade chilli oil, or to taste
  • Spring onion, finely chopped
    No. 6: Hot and Sour Dumpling Soup (1 serving)
  • 1 teaspoon light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons black rice vinegar / spiced vinegar (see note 2)
  • 1 tablespoon spring onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon papery dried shrimp (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese sesame oil
  • 1 pinch salt
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Coriander, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon homemade chilli oil, or to taste

Instructions

  1. For No. 1: Ginger & Vinegar Sauce: Mix all the ingredients. Leave to infuse for 5 minutes before serving.
  2. For No. 2: Garlic & Vinegar Sauce: Put garlic, Sichuan pepper and salt into a bowl. Pour hot oil over. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
  3. For No. 3: Spring Onion Oil Sauce: Put spring onion and sugar in a bowl. Pour hot oil over. Add soy sauce and vinegar. Mix well.
  4. For No. 4: Spicy Tomato Dip: Put tomato, garlic, ginger, chilli and coriander into the food processor. Blend to a smooth paste. Add salt, sugar and soy sauce. Mix well.
  5. For No. 5: Sichuan Dumpling Sauce: Put Sichuan spiced sweet soy sauce (see note 1) and garlic in a serving bowl. Add freshly boiled dumplings. Pour chilli oil over. Stir then garnish with spring onion.
  6. For No. 6: Hot and Sour Dumpling Soup: Put soy sauce, vinegar, spring onion, papery dried shrimp, sesame oil and salt in the serving bowl. Spoon in freshly boiled dumplings along with some water from the pot. Add sesame seeds, coriander and chilli oil.

Notes

1. To make 400ml Sichuan spiced sweet soy sauce: In a sauce pan, add 500ml (2 cups) soy sauce, 150g (5oz) brown sugar, 60 ml (1/4 cup) water, 1 star anise, 1 Tsaoko, 1 small piece cassia cinnamon, 1 bay leaf, 1 pinch fennel seeds, 2 stalks spring onion and 1 small piece ginger. Simmer uncovered over a low heat for about 20 minutes until the volume reduces by 1/3 or so. Drain off the spices. Leave to cool.

2. The traditional recipe of Hot and Sour Dumpling Soup calls for spiced vinegar. If you are interested, check out my blog post Beef dumplings in hot & sour soup (酸汤水饺)”.

https://redhousespice.com/dumpling-sauces/

Thank you very much for following my dumpling journey. The last part of my guide is coming very soon. Stay tuned!

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

A little note: I have created a Youtube channel under the name “FlavorQuest China“. Subscribe if you often use Youtube for cooking inspiration. I’m gradually creating more video recipes and will share them on Youtube.

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