random musings

April 14, 2012

Healthy homemade and cheap on the weeknights

I looove soup. Really, I could have some form of soup two, even three meals a day (congee for breakfast, anyone?). Make it four - I have some good recipes for soup, desert style. yum!

But during the week, I try to keep the "cooking" to a minimum. Crock-pot meals, casseroles, stuff that be assembled in an hour or less. One shortcut I've perfected is to make dumplings en masse and stick them in the freezer. We can retrieve 2 - 4 per person and plop them directly into some broth for a quick soup. Add some frozen vegetables, an egg or two (optional), dried pasta (optional) and in just a few minutes longer than it takes to boil water, a hearty, healthy, low-cal dinner.

Today I'm going to share tips for making the dumplings.

  1. Ingredients are variable. I find that 3/4 - 1 lb of ground pork sausage is the perfect ratio for one package of the dumpling wrappers (I use cantonese-style wonton) and add everything else with whimsical fancy. Good choices are soy sauce, hoisin sauce, vinegar, white wine/sherry, minced ginger, minced green onion, minced garlic, salt, pepper. I've been know to take a shortcut and just use a package of Jimmy Dean hot pork sausage when it's on sale :-) Whatever mixtures you like fried up in a skillet will probably be tasty in a dumpling - remember this is supposed to make your life easier - don't sweat the details!
  2. Use a cornstarch slurry to "glue" the edges together. For better results, don't overfill the wrappers - 1-2 tsp per dumpling is plenty. Also try to squeeze the air out as you seal them.
  3. Freeze individually, then shift to a gallon sized bag. Because my freezer is pretty narrow, I use an old pie tin and separate each layer with wax paper for the flash freezing portion



  1. It's so funny that you're writing about this because I have seriously been wanting to do this exact thing for so long - make a huge batch, freeze separately and always have on hand for fast meals. I love the idea of using a cornstarch slurry for the edges instead of water; I have had some issues in the past with some dumplings breaking apart in the cooking process, so maybe this method would solve that problem. These look delicious!

    1. I have issues with edges crumbling in the freezer bag as we shift them around. So if you're looking for "perfect" dumplings, it's not an ideal method. What I have discovered over the years is that the quality of wrappers makes a *huge difference. Frankly any wrappers that are frozen before use are going to be inferior (which is all I can get here in IA). In areas with a dense asian population, you can get super-thin fresh wonton wrappers. They're so thin that if wrapped correctly (like here: you won't get the thick clump of doughy mass, and it is this style of wrapping that survives better in the freezer.

      I've only heard of using cornstarch or egg to seal (never just water!). hope this helps:-)

  2. I LOVE LOVE soup too and actually am just about to make some wontons tonight with some chili oil sauce!

    Thanks so much for stopping by and yes, I actually do use that blue ceramic egg holder for eggs ;) I've seen it used as a jewelry holder too though... always good to re-purpose items :)

    1. mmm chili oil! (I secretly like it better than sriracha)