Serious Eats: Recipes

Eat for Eight Bucks: Dumplings Two Ways, with Freestyle Dipping Sauce

When I was a little girl growing up in Hong Kong, it was a cold weather ritual to watch my mother, grandmother, and assortment of aunts wrap dumplings with deft fingers. I'd insist on joining in, but my crumpled parcels of pork and cabbage invariably leaked or fell apart.

Now a grown woman and living in Brooklyn, I like to think my fingers are just as deft as theirs were then. I don't have any family here with whom to share the wrapping process, but I've been known to make my guests wrap for their supper. (A glass of wine can be very persuasive.) Sometimes I'll stick with a more traditional filling of pork and napa cabbage, or I'll do a meatless version with edamame, kale, and cilantro.

Either way, I'm well within budget at just under $7.

The Shopping List

Note: Items bought in large quantities, like the frozen edamame, have been pro-rated for cost. Ingredients a cook can reasonably be expected to have on hand are considered "Pantry Items" and are not factored into recipe cost.

Pork and Cabbage Dumplings
1 package "Shanghai-style" dumpling wrappers - $2.25
1/2 pound ground pork - $1.24
Small head Napa cabbage - $1.70
4 scallions - $0.75
Bunch cilantro - $0.75
Small knob ginger - $0.15

Edamame, Kale and Cilantro Dumplings
1 package "Shanghai-style" dumpling wrappers - $2.25
1/2 of a 1-pound bag of frozen shelled edamame - $1.59 (total cost of item - $3.19)
Medium bunch kale - $1.49
4 scallions - $0.75
Bunch cilantro - $0.75
Small knob ginger - $0.15

Pantry Items
Soy sauce, sesame oil, red wine vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper

Total Cost

Pork dumplings, $6.84; edamame dumplings, $6.98.

Freestyle Dipping Sauce


A dipping sauce for dumplings can be as simple as soy sauce mixed with vinegar, but I like to present a bounty of condiments in small bowls, which allows each person to dress the dumplings to his taste, and makes a pretty centerpiece to boot. You may already have some of these Southeast Asian pantry basics at home, and the rest can be inexpensively purchased at a Chinese grocery store. It's a small investment that will enliven dumplings, noodles, and stir-fries for months to come.

Clockwise, from left: oyster sauce, pure, bottled umami that goes beautifully with bitter greens; soy sauce; deep-fried shallots, imported from Vietnam and sold for $2.75 a pound; chopped scallions; sesame oil; sesame seeds; Thai chili powder, useful for adding pure heat when you don't want the acidity of Sriracha; crushed peanuts.

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