Dumplings are one of the most versatile foods you could make. Not only is it possible for the dumpling filling to be varied, but the cooking method is also widely adapted to preference. From steamed to boiled, to deep-fried, to pan-fried, to steam fried -- there is a dumpling out there for just about every mood. The method of choice here is the steam fry, which results in a crispy bottomed side and perfectly steamed wrapper, void of any undesired raw chewiness. I like to use the combination of ground pork and shrimp as the base of my filling, but just about any ground meat can be substituted. What sets this recipe apart from most is that the ground pork is browned and cooled before being combined with the remainder of the ingredients instead of going into the dumpling wrappers straight from raw. The reason for this is because I find something so much more enjoyable about that crumbly texture of previously seared ground meat inside of a dumpling as opposed to the singular little pucks of filling that you get when you start with raw. The other reason for doing this is that you maximize the flavour within the filling by caramelizing the fat and sugars within the pork instead of losing those flavours when the filling is steamed inside the wrap, not to mention it also helps cut down on overall cooking time. The final pièce de résistance here is the surprise crusting of sesame seeds on the bottom of each dumpling. The sesame seeds provide a nutty aroma and crispy finish when biting into one of these juicy little bites.
The sauce for these dumplings is the same sauce used in the Chili Garlic Noodles recipe but I encourage the customization of sauces to fit personal tastes!
Sesame Crusted Dumplings 7 Steps
To prepare the sauce, in a small mixing bowl combine the hot water with the sugar and whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Add in the remainder of the sauce ingredients (soy sauce, Chiu Chow Chili Oil, Chinese black vinegar and sesame oil), whisk until even and set aside.
Heat a medium pan on high heat, add in 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, followed by the diced shallots and cook for approximately 15-30 seconds until the shallots start to turn brown. Add in the ground pork and the sugar, cook until browned and caramelized, approximately 6-8 minutes. Be sure to use a wooden spoon to break up any large pieces while cooking. Once the ground pork is evenly browned, add the fish sauce and mix to incorporate. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pork into a mixing bowl, leaving behind the excess fat that has rendered in the bottom of the pan. Allow to cool before proceeding to the next step.
Once the pork has cooled, add in the chopped shrimp, sliced scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil and back pepper and mix until just combined. Fry off a small piece to check seasoning and adjust if necessary with additional fish sauce or soy sauce.
Prepare to form the dumplings by filling a small bowl with water and placing the sesame seeds in a small shallow plate. Using the water as a ‘glue’, place approximately 1 heaping teaspoon of filling into the dumpling wraps and begin forming into desired shapes. Lightly press the bottom of each formed dumpling on a flat surface to help the sesame seeds adhere. Wet the bottom of each dumpling and press gently into the sesame seeds.
To cook the dumplings, heat a skillet (non-stick is best!) on medium-high heat. Add enough vegetable oil to evenly coat the bottom of the pan. Carefully begin adding in the formed dumplings, bottom/sesame side down making sure none of them are touching. Allow the dumplings to cook for about 1 minute on medium-high heat until the bottoms form a golden brown colour, at this point resist the urge to move them around too much as this will make some of the sesame seeds fall off.
Once dumpling bottoms are golden brown in colour, add in 1/4 cup of water at a time until the water comes up about 1/4 of the way up the dumplings, it should sizzle quite heavily. Cover with a tight fitting lid, and allow to steam fry until the water has evaporated, the dumpling skins have cooked and you can hear the sound of the oil sizzling again, approximately 4-5 minutes. At this point, remove the lid and allow the dumplings to cook until the bottom of each is deeply golden brown. Transfer to a platter, clean out the pan and repeat the same cooking process until all of the dumplings are cooked.
To serve, top with additional sliced scallions and dipping sauce on the side.