An Ode To Chengdu's Zhong Dumplings
One of the most famous street snacks in Chengdu, Zhong Dumplings have been a favorite of mine ever since I can remember. I can still recall taking my first bite at the age of five in a fly restaurant near my grandparent’s home, the chili oil dribbling down my chin, eyes wide at the indescribably delicious combination of juicy pork, sweet soy sauce, garlic and sesame. I was hooked, and years later, it was that memory that brought me back to Chengdu to begin my journey of building Fly By Jing.
Since I started hosting supper clubs in my former private kitchen in Shanghai, I’ve been trying to perfect a version of this dish. I think I’ve come pretty close with the Zhong Dumpling Sauce, and you guys seem to agree - we're currently SOLD OUT and taking pre-orders for our next batch that's arriving stateside in two weeks!
It’s not all about the sauce though, the dumplings also have a starring role, and this recipe is my fool-proof, tried and true version. I’ve served these over the years at hundreds of events and they’ve always been the first to disappear.
Try it out at your next potluck. Thank me later.
Zhong Dumpling Recipe*
1 lb ground pork (shoulder, belly - about 70% lean, 30% fat)
1 tbsp ginger, finely minced
1 tbsp cooking wine like Shaoxing
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup of water
Handful sliced scallion greens
1 pack dumpling skins, preferably thin, potsticker skins (I think making your own dumpling skins is noble but as someone who’s made tens of thousands of dumplings over the years, I do not recommend it. No one will recognize you as a hero for having rolled your own)
Mix all ingredients until everything is thoroughly integrated. I like wearing disposable gloves and getting in there with my hands.
Test out the meat mixture if you like by frying a little bit in a pan with oil. It should taste delicious and umami-rich with no other seasoning.
Now fold the dumplings. There are many techniques here. I recommend watching this video. It truly doesn’t matter what your dumplings look like though as long as your shapes are fully sealed.
Bring some salted water to boil on the stove. Once boiling, drop dumplings in, making sure to gently stir right away with a spatula or utensil to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. Once the dumplings start to float, wait another 15 seconds and remove them from the water with a slotted spoon.
Serve with Zhong Dumpling sauce, and enjoy
*You can substitute any protein here, pork is my go-to, but shrimp, chicken, even firm tofu and veggies (need to be blanched and squeezed dry) can work, just use about a pound of whatever you like and keep the proportions of all other ingredients the same