It’s safe to say that almost everyone loves dumplings. So much so that many different cultures around the world have their own version of a dumpling. Judging from the number of examples found worldwide—from Polish pierogi to Italian tortellini — Asia is arguably home to the greatest variety and devotion.

If you’ve never tried making your own dumplings, well…it’s easier than you might think: some recipes do require homemade dough, but others work just fine with store-bought wrappers. The advantage is that you can choose what goes in them — pork, tofu, cabbage, shrimps or any other combination your want.

Today’s choice — Japanese-style gyoza, related to their Chinese counterparts but tend to be more subtle in flavor, stuffed with juicy pork and cabbage lightly seasoned with garlic, scallions, ginger, white pepper, salt, and sugar.

INGREDIENTS

For the dough

  • 2½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour 
  • 3/4 cup warm water

For the filling

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2½ cups finely chopped Chinese cabbage 
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger 
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce 
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (optional) 
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil 

For the soy-ginger dipping sauce

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro 
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 
  • 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh ginger 
  • 1 teaspoon chili sauce (optional)

Soy-ginger dipping sauce

Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Let sit for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld together (the longer the mixture rests, the more intense the flavor becomes). Once mixed, the sauce will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.

The dough

Step 1: Place the flour in a mixing bowl. Add the water and, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir the water and flour together. Continue to stir gently until a ball of dough starts to form.

Step 2: Start kneading the dough to make a ball. The dough should feel slightly tacky but not damp. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel or plastic wrap and let it rest for a minimum of 20 minutes.

Step 3:Once rested the dough, divide it in half. On a surface lightly dusted with our, roll each half into a rope that’s about 3⁄4 inch in diameter and about 18 inches in length. Using a knife or a bench scraper, cut each rope into pieces that are about 3⁄4 inch thick. Each piece should weigh about 9 or 10 grams.

Step 4: Roll each piece of dough into a small ball and then a flatten it between your palms to create a disc that resembles a wafer cookie.  With a Chinese rolling pin (available in Asian markets) or a 3/4-inch wooden dowel from a hardware store, roll each disk into a flat circle about 3 inches in diameter. Don’t worry about making a perfect circle.

Dumplings

Combine the pork, cabbage, green onion, ginger, soy sauce, white pepper (if using) and sesame oil in a bowl and mix well.

Step 1: To form dumplings, place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of a wrapper. Use your thumb and forefinger to pinch together a small piece of the dough’s edge into a fold. Without moving your thumb, gather another piece of the dough’s edge with your forefinger, fold it, and then pull it into your first fold. Work your way around the entire circle of dough, gathering and pinching the folds together until you’re back where you started. Pinch together the folds to close the hole at the top of the dumpling.

Step 2: To panfry the dumplings, heat an nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetable oil and swirl it around to coat the bottom. Place as many dumplings in the skillet as will fit. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup water to the pan, depending on the size of the pan. Cover immediately with a lid and do not remove or the steam will escape. Cook until bottoms are crisp and brown but not burned, about 7 to 9 minutes. The sizzling will subside as the water evaporates.

It’s undeniable — everyone loves dumpling, no matter what. Old people, big people, small people, black or white, dumplings are a magical food that can be found almost anywhere in the world.

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