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

Eat for Eight Bucks

Dinner recipes that will keep your stomach and wallet happy from Cara and Phoebe of Big Girls, Small Kitchen

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

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.

  • Yield:about 50 dumplings


  • 1/2 pound Napa cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 pound kale, stems and center ribs discarded, finely shredded
  • 1/2 pound frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves only, coarsely chopped
  • 4 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt


  1. 1.

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Blanch cabbage until just wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and rinse in cold water. Drain, squeeze out excess water, and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

  2. 2.

    Add all remaining ingredients to bowl containing cabbage. Knead by hand until thoroughly combined.

  3. 3.

    Edamame, Kale, and Cilantro Dumpling Filling

  4. 4.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook kale until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, and squeeze out excess water.

  5. 5.

    While the kale is boiling, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and cook frozen edamame until tender to bite, about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water.

  6. 6.

    Combine kale and edamame in medium bowl. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate.

  7. 7.

    Wrapping the Dumplings

  8. 8.


  9. 9.

    Dumpling wrappers can be purchased at Asian grocery stores or in the freezer section of many supermarkets. I like the thicker, "Shanghai-style" wrappers, which are less fragile to work with and far more filling.

  10. 10.

    First, prepare a small bowl of cold water. Pile two teaspoons of filling in the center of the dumpling wrapper. Using your fingertip, moisten the outer edge of the wrapper with water. Fold wrapper in half, forming a half-moon, and pleat the edges, pressing firmly to seal. Repeat with remaining dumplings.

  11. 11.

    To Cook

  12. 12.

    Working in batches, carefully lower dumplings into a medium pot of boiling water and boil for 3 to 5 minutes. They are done when the skins are translucent and the dumplings have been boiling for at least 3 minutes.

  13. 13.

    Got Leftovers?

  14. 14.

    Dumplings will keep for up to one month in the freezer, and can be dropped straight into boiling water without prior thawing.