How to Make Northern-Style Lamb Dumplings

How to Make Northern-Style Lamb Dumplings

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In northern China, people eat lamb dumplings for the Dongzhi Festival, a tribute to the Han Dynasty physician, Zhang Zhongjing, who served this warming food to poor farmers suffering from frostbite during one particularly cold winter.

Celebrating the Dongzhi Festival is all about understanding the simple enjoyment of a warm, fortifying meal on a cold winter night in ancient China. It’s that same feeling you had as a child when you came in from a day of playing in the snow to a cup of hot cocoa or a bowl of steaming soup.

Against that backdrop, this lamb dumpling recipe is the perfect match. The rustic taste of lamb, combined with a black vinegar and chili dipping sauce, gives these dumplings a distinctly northern Chinese flavor. A perfect meal to serve during the depths of winter.

In contrast to traditional pork dumplings, which can be fried as potstickers, these lamb dumplings are either steamed or boiled in thin gow gee dumpling wrappers. The boiled dumplings are soft and slippery, while the steamed dumplings are more elastic, but both versions produce a satisfying broth that makes the dumplings feel like xiao long bao.

If your Chinese market is in a predominantly Cantonese neighborhood, you may find that it doesn’t carry lamb. In that case, a halal market will probably be your next best bet. Make sure to pick a relatively fatty ground lamb mix, so that your dumplings produce a rich broth.

Here’s how to make lamb dumplings, step-by-step. The detailed tutorial with pictures and directions is at the bottom of the page.

Your turn! What tips can you share from your family’s recipe? Want to ask a question before you start cooking? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!


Lamb Dumplings Recipe

Makes: 70-80 Dumplings | Prep Time: 1 Hour | Cook Time: 10 Minutes
Lamb Dumplings

Ingredients

10 ounces Chinese cabbage
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground lamb
4 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
4 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon ginger
4 green onions
1 teaspoon cumin
80 gow gee dumpling wrappers

Directions

1. Finely mince the cabbage in a food processor. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Add the lamb, ginger, green onion, soy sauce, rice wine and cumin to the food processor. Pulse 5 times until the ingredients are combined well. Set aside.

3. Place the cabbage on a kitchen cloth, twist the top and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Add the dry cabbage to your pork mixture and combine in the food processor with another 5 pulses.

4. Spoon 1 rounded teaspoon of the filling mixture in the center of each dumpling wrapper. To wrap a dumpling, dab water along the inside edge of the wrapper, fold in half to form a semicircle enclosing the filling, then seal the edges together to stick. Finally, fold 5-6 small pleats around the top edge of the dumpling. Repeat until all of your dumplings are done.

5. Separate the dumplings you’ll need for your meal and then freeze the rest in a heavy plastic bag for later.

6. There are two easy ways to cook dumplings.

– To boil: Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 15 dumplings to the pot and boil for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove the dumplings from the heat and drain, repeating with any remaining dumplings.

– To steam: Place a bamboo steamer in a large pot or wok and heat water to a boil. Place 15 dumplings in a single layer in the bamboo steamer, cover and steam for 9 minutes. Remove the dumplings from the heat.

7. Serve immediately with chili sauce, black vinegar or soy sauce for dipping.


Step-By-Step Tutorial

Lamb Dumplings

Start by gathering your ingredients. This is a simple recipe for lamb dumplings, requiring only ground lamb, cabbage, green onions, ginger and a few spices.

Lamb Dumplings

Finely mince the cabbage in a food processor. Place in a large bowl, sprinkle with the salt and set aside for 10 minutes.

Lamb Dumplings

Finely chop the ginger and green onions.

Lamb Dumplings

Add the lamb, ginger, green onion, soy sauce, rice wine and cumin to the food processor. Pulse 5 times until the ingredients are combined well. Set aside.

Lamb Dumplings

Place the cabbage on a kitchen cloth, twist the top and squeeze out as much liquid as you can.

Lamb Dumplings

Add the dry cabbage to your pork mixture and combine in the food processor with another 5 pulses.

Lamb Dumplings

Spoon 1 rounded teaspoon of the filling mixture in the center of each dumpling wrapper.

Lamb Dumplings

To wrap a dumpling, dab water along the inside edge of the wrapper, fold in half to form a semicircle enclosing the filling.

Lamb Dumplings

Next, seal the edges together to stick.

Lamb Dumplings

Finally, fold 5-6 small pleats around the top edge of the dumpling.

Lamb Dumplings

Repeat until all of your dumplings are done.

Lamb Dumplings

Preparation Method #1: To boil, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 15 dumplings to the pot and boil for 9 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Remove the dumplings from the heat and drain, repeating with any remaining dumplings.

Lamb Dumplings

Preparation Method #2: Place a bamboo steamer in a large pot or wok and heat water to a boil. Place 15 dumplings in a single layer in the bamboo steamer, cover and steam for 9 minutes. Remove the dumplings from the heat.

Lamb Dumplings

Here’s what the dumplings look like when they’ve been boiled. Serve immediately with chili sauce, black vinegar or soy sauce for dipping.

Lamb Dumplings

And here’s what the dumplings look like when they’ve been steamed. Serve immediately with chili sauce, black vinegar or soy sauce for dipping.

HT: Recipe adapted from Omnivore’s Cookbook.

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