Pretty much all roads in the dumpling ancestry path lead to China. The country is crawling with dumplings of all shapes and sizes with different types of fillings, wrappers, and cooking methods.
Trying to classify something as wildly popular and diverse as a Chinese dumpling is an exercise in futility.
This is what most Americans refer to as a potsticker. Made with fresh wrappers and eaten hot, the perfect pan-fried dumpling should have a golden brown, ultra-crisp fried bottom, with a skin that's springy andchewy, but never tough or doughy. Guo tie come with a wide range of fillings, from shrimp to mixed vegetables, but our go-to combination is juicy pork and chive.
These tender boiled dumplings are made with a thin wheat-based wrapper. They can be served in broth like wontons, or simply drained and served with a dipping sauce. Ground pork and vegetables are both common fillings.
More delicate than boiled dumplings, steamed dumplings are made with beautifully pleated translucent wrappers. Common fillings range from pork and chives to shrimp, cabbage, or any number of vegetables.
Plump and juicy, with chunks of shrimp barely visible through translucent dough, har gow are one of the most widely recognized dim sum classics. The wheat starch skin thatencases the filling is cut with tapioca to give it extra stretchiness. These are one of the most difficult dumplings to make properly: the skin should be translucent yet sturdy, slightly chewy but not tough, with perfectly cooked, crisp shrimp inside. Our recipe enhances the shrimp with bits of pork fat in the stretchy, delicate wrapper.
Chiu-Chao Fun Gow
The thin tapioca starch-enhanced wheat wrappers are filled with a crunchy, fresh-tasting mix of shrimp, pork, and peanuts, often flavored with cilantro and crisp chunks of jicama.
Xiao Long Bao
A perfect pliable, juicy soup dumpling is something to be treasured. The pork-based (or pork-and-crab-based) filling is made with collagen-rich pork parts that yield a thick, sticky stock that solidifies as it cools. It's folded into a thin round of stretchy wheat dough, which is gathered up and pleated into a swirled bun. As the dumpling steams, the gelatin-rich broth in the filling melts. What you're left with is a plump bun brimming with a rich savory soup that must be carefully sucked out before digging into the tender, springy meatball within. That, or you can boldly down the whole thing in one go, letting it burst in your mouth like a savory Chinese Gusher. Just proceed quickly—these have one of the shortest dumpling shelf-lives, quickly turning sodden and mushy as that gelatinous broth congeals.
Sheng Jian Bao
Sheng Jian Bao–fried soup dumplings–while a ubiquitous breakfast food or snack in Shanghai for at least the last century, live in the shadow of their far more famous steamed counterpart. This is unfortunate, because if anything. SJB are even tastier than XLB–at least when made right. Sheng Jian Bao start with a slightly thicker dough that, just like XLB, get pleated around a gelatin-rich filling. They're cooked in large, covered cast iron pans filled with just enough water to steam them through. As the water evaporates, the dumplings begin to fry on their bottom surface. You end up with a tender, steamed, juice-filled bun with a golden-brown, crisply fried bottom.
Another dim sum classic, these open-topped steamed pork and/or shrimp dumplings are made with a thin, wrinkled wheat flour wrapper. Often topped with fish roe or grated carrot, or even a single pea, they're fresh-tasting and juicy.
Haam Sui Gok
Haam sui gok are made with a glutinous rice dough. Deep-fried, they come out blistered and crispy on the outside with a chewy, lightly doughy layer underneath. Fillings range from savory pork and sausage to coconut or sweet bean paste.
Frilly strands of fried purple taro make up the delicate exterior of these meaty pork dumplings. At once sweet and savory, crisp and tender, wu gok are a delightful study in contrasts.
With their distinctive square wrappers, supple-skinned won tons are a common sight in Chinese soups, bobbing alongside cabbage and noodles. Though typically filled with ground pork and/or shrimp, their proportions differ based on provenance, with some quite heavy and substantial, and others light and airy, more wispy skin than filling.
These sweet, sticky glutinous rice dumplings are often filled with rock candy, sesame paste, peanuts, or red bean paste. Boiled until soft and chewy, they can be served on their own or, more commonly, in a sweet bean, sesame, or ginger soup.