Monday, February 15, 2010

Leftovers and Chinese Dumplings

I hate throwing food away. It goes against everything I believe in.

Because of my aversion to tossing away any little bit of food that is leftover I often find my freezer full of little packages of "ingredients"; packages or plastic cups with a bit of ricotta cheese left from the container that I only needed a 1/2 cup from. A cup of gravy left from a roasted turkey. A half a cup of sauteed mushrooms or a half of roasted duck left from my trip to China Town.

A few times a month I find myself foraging in the depths of my freezer, trying to come up with a meal plan that will incorporate all of my saved ingredients.

Did I mention I had a half of a roast duck in there? You may not have a duck, but you might have a chicken breast, a bit of pork roast or maybe just a few too many eggs in your fridge. This recipe will use that bit of leftover without making you or your family feel like you're eating leftovers.

Give it a try - Homemade Chinese Dumplings in under an hour.

Chinese Dumplings: makes 24 dumplings (and they freeze beautifully)


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cold water

Put the flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the water into the well. Using a wooden spoon stir the center well, gradually adding flour from the sides of the bowl. Keep stirring until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too dry or stringy, add more cold water a teaspoon at a time until you have a soft, somewhat sticky dough. Turn the dough out on a floured work surfaced and knead for 5 minutes. The dough is ready when you press a finger into it and it springs back.

Cut the dough in half, roll into two 6 inch logs and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rest for 30 minutes or longer.

While dough is resting, prepare the filling(s):

Duck (chicken, shrimp* or pork)

*peel, cook and chop shrimp

About 1 1/2 cups shredded duck, chicken or pork.
2 scallions (some green included) sliced thinly
1/4 cup water chestnuts, minced
1/2 cup steamed spinach, squeezed dry and minced*
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced*
1 teaspoon corn starch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar

* You an substitute raw cabbage for the spinach. If you don't have fresh ginger, use 1 1/2 teaspoons powdered ginger.

Mix all the above ingredients together and set aside.

Uncover the dough. Cut each 6 inch log in half. Cut each half into 6 1 inch pieces for a total of 24 pieces. Toss lightly with flour and cover with a kitchen towel. Take one piece at a time and roll into a 3 inch disc. Place about 2 teaspoons of filling in the center, fold over and seal, crimping the edges tightly. Lay on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and continue rolling, filling and crimping until all the dough is used. Don't lay dumplings on top of each other - they will stick.

* If you have a drink muddler, this will work great as a mini-rolling pin, it is not as heavy and easier to handle for rolling out little discs.

Place 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a 12 to 14 inch skillet. Heat over medium-high. Add dumplings, being careful not to crowd. You may have to use 2 pans or work in batches.

Cook the dumplings for about 2 minutes or until the underside is just browned. Add 1/2 cup water to skillet and cover, cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove from pan and place on warmed plate, browned side up. Serve immediately with a variety of dipping sauces, such as plum, duck or the soy dips, below:

Soy Dipping Sauce with scallions (about 1/4 cup)

3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil or hot chile oil
1 small scallion, thinly sliced

Combine all the ingredients and serve at room temperature.

Soy and Ginger Dipping Sauce

4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

Combine all ingredients, stirring to dissolve sugar. Serve at room temperature.

A Cook's Notes: Do you have a favorite recipe utilizing leftovers? Tell me what you do with that last bit of roast chicken or pot roast...

These dumplings have about 40 calories each. A bargain meal!! Six dumplings with a side salad make a hearty meal - for under 300 calories!!!


  1. yummmmm those look sooo good..and easy to seems..we do not have ANY good chinese food resturants here on the central fact we only have one! That is something we miss from the Bay Area we came from.. I will have to try my hand on making these! thanks

  2. Those look sooo good and I think I have everything to make them (I have this random quarter of a cabbage that I have been wondering what to do with!).

    At the end of the week I always end up with random scraps of vegetables and the easiest way I have found to use everything up is to chop them up and throw them in a pie crust (I buy the whole grain spelt crusts already made) and then dump some egg/milk mixture over them and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes and VIOLA! A quiche! So awesome for breakfast in the morning!

  3. Marlene - glad to oblige! We really enjoyed them and I plan on making some shrimp dumplings this weekend.

    Jen - That quiche sounds great! I'm always looking for new breakfast items (I bore easily) thanks for the tip!

  4. Oh, that looks and sounds so good! I hate waste, too, and have been known to create things that defy description and are never to grace the table again! I have also made some of the best meals we have ever had out of bits and dabs of this and that.

  5. Excellent! And I really hate throwing anything away either. Love this idea.

  6. This looks wonderful. My favorite! Is there anything better than pot stickers? We are becoming very careful about waste as well. Eat at home, eat healthy, and eat everything you buy, is my motto these days.

  7. I am hungry after reading that. One thing we all love in this house is chinese dumpling, potstickers or it what you want we love them. My family keeps asking me to please make wonton soup and dumplings...think I will try these!


  8. I made these for dinner tonight and I am VERY pleased to report that they turned out AMAZING! (I added a shredded carrot and a little Chinese Five Spice). They were so good that COLE at SIX OF THEM. Cole never eats anything (as 2-year-olds are wont to do)- so this was a VERY good surprise and a very happy ending to my day!

  9. Jen - getting a 2 year old to eat ANYTHING officially qualifies you for Mother of The Year. Adding a bit of carrot and Five Spice? Genius!

  10. I absolutely love Chinese dumplings! I will have to try this when I get around to trying anything again!

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