There are several different ways of cooking dumplings but the two most common methods seem to be fried or steamed.
That could mean deep-fried, pan-fried, or just steamed yet when cooked properly, the difference should not be hugely significant.
It can simply be a preference as to how the dumplings are prepared as it may depend on the overall dish they are used in and their fillings.
For instance, steamed, soft dumplings go best with vegetables, soup, and rice, while dumplings that are crispy fried go well with meat.
What Are Dumplings?
Dumplings are known as a delicacy in Southeast Asia, specifically countries including China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.
They can be incredibly flavorful and prove to be versatile with their fillings and cooking methods so their appeal has spread globally.
You can fill dumplings with plenty of different ingredients and then fry or steam them. Those ingredients can include meat like chicken and pork but also vegetables and herbs.
The Difference Between Fried And Steamed Dumplings
Whether you plan to steam or fry your dumplings, they will start out as a filling and a thinly rolled-out dough.
The dough itself is typically made from wheat flour which is then combined with water to form a simple dough.
Once kneaded and rolled out to a specific thickness, the dough is cut out into portions.
The filling is then placed into the middle of each piece of dough to be squished tightly together and sealed up.
The filling does not determine whether a dumpling should be fried or steamed.
Fillings such as beef, pork, chicken, vegetables, and herbs can be used for the dumpling to then be fried or steamed.
You may have a preference if you prefer the contrast between a crunchy or soft exterior over a soft filling.
The cooking processes both help create delicious dumplings yet the texture is the defining difference.
With fried dumplings, you can expect a tasty combination of crunchy and chewy textures yet steamed dumplings should be softer.
The common difference is that the dough for fried dumplings holds more flavor compared to the decidedly bland dough you get when you steam them.
How To Steam Dumplings
Steaming dumplings is known as the healthier option and is relatively simple to prepare.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil and place a steamer basket on top.
- Carefully place your dumplings in the steamer basket and ensure that it is sealed to prevent any steam from escaping.
- Allow the dumplings to steam for between ten and fifteen minutes.
- They should be ready when they appear soft, lustrous, and still chewy.
- You can also tell that they are ready when they appear to be plumped up.
- Remove the steamer basket with your dumplings and lift the lid carefully to remove the steam.
- You can pour some cold water on top to cool them down ready for eating.
How To Fry Dumplings
Frying your dumplings can take a similar amount of time as steaming them. These are known as potstickers for how they stick to the pan when they cook and gain that crunchy layer on the outside.
- Use a trusted frying pan and pour in some oil.
- Allow the oil to heat up and add enough water to partially cover the dumplings.
- Cover the pan for ten minutes and allow the dumplings to fry in the oil and water mixture.
- These dumplings should be ready once you can see a crunchy exterior which provides a welcome contrast to the soft interior with the filling.
How To Air Fry Dumplings
There is a further way to fry your dumplings which may prove to be healthy, certainly more so than deep frying them.
If you have an air fryer, you can cook your dumplings in one. They will still have that delectably crispy exterior but without using so much oil.
- Spray your frozen dumplings with olive oil or brush it on.
- Set the temperature of your air fryer to 390°F.
- Pour your frozen dumplings into the air fryer and make sure you do not overcrowd the basket.
- After a few minutes, your dumplings should be crispy on the outside and cooked in the middle.
Some air fryers can be bigger than others and that does reduce the cooking time. Keep an eye on them just in case they take a little longer to cook.
Are Fried Or Steamed Dumplings Healthier?
Steamed dumplings will be healthier as they fail to include the fat content that you can associate with cooking oils.
Indeed, steaming your dumplings is the preferred method of cooking in China.
By steaming them, it can prove healthier and less hazardous when you consider how oil can spit out of the pan when heated up.
A lot of people eat dumplings as a treat so prefer them to be fried as it provides more flavor on the occasions that they do eat them.
For a direct comparison, a steamed pork dumpling should consist of 80 calories.
If you do decide to fry the dumplings, you can expect ten more calories for each dumpling. That can quickly add up to a lot of calories in a single batch which is worth bearing in mind.
Then again, the filling can contain a lot of the calories and you can expect around 35 calories should your dumplings have a vegetable-only filling.
If you prefer your dumplings to be even crispier then you should consider deep-frying them.
This is more popular in the Western world than Southeast Asia and it can certainly be considered a modern twist on the traditional methods.
It is unlikely that you will be able to coax a restaurant in China, Vietnam, or Japan to deep-fry your dumplings yet you may find them in an American restaurant.
Simply pan-frying the dumplings provides a crispy exterior yet deep-frying them in an intense heat can provide an exceedingly crispy exterior which is increasingly oily and dangerous to prepare.
How To Make Your Own Dumpling Dough
Dumpling dough can be really simple to make which should be pleasing if you want to make your own.
Create a smooth, soft dough from wheat flour and water then leave it to rest for around half an hour.
Roll out the dough until it is thin as you still want to cook your filling inside the dough whether you decide to fry or steam the dumplings.
If that seems like too much effort, you can buy readymade dumpling wrappers at the grocery store in the frozen section.
These can last for a long time when frozen so it should save you some time when you want to create some dumplings.
You can also buy the dumpling wrappers already cut so you do not even have to cut them yourself.
Dumplings can be incredibly versatile, both in their fillings and cooking methods. Whether you prefer them steamed or fried is up to you.
You could decide to steam half of your batch and fry the other half to see which you prefer.
Just be careful if you do decide to deep-fry your dumplings as it can mean getting a large pan of oil to an exceptionally high temperature.
This cooking method does not take long but you should be cautious as the oil can spit and burn your skin.
With a large batch of dumplings, you should be looking to steam them as it simply proves easier.
By frying your dumplings, you do have to keep a closer eye on the crispy outside layers to ensure they do not burn.
The heat is also a crucial element as you want the pan to be hot but not excessively so.
When using a large steamer, you do not need to worry about burning the bottom of your dumplings which can be a relief.
Frequently Asked Questions
Probably the most popular filling for dumplings in China is a combination of ground pork and scallions. You could also expect to find ground chicken with chopped shiitake mushrooms, ground pork with garlic chives, or pork and shrimp mixed with vegetables.
Vegan dumplings are also a popular choice as the dough can be made to be vegan so you only have to include tofu or vegetables. Each filling should only be a single teaspoon as any more can be too much and force the dumplings to burst open while being cooked.
It is really important to seal the dumplings properly to prevent the filling from escaping, whether you decide to steam or fry them. Use only a single teaspoon of the filling for each dumpling and be sure not to overfill them.
Create a paste from water and cornstarch to moisten the dumpling wrapper edges so they are easier to seal.
Use your fingers to bring the wrapper edges to the top and crimp then pinch them together to ensure they are sealed tight, you can also cover the dumplings with plastic wrap to prevent the wrappers from drying out.