* Can be omitted. There are no hard and fast rules for what goes in the Filling, and it varies across China and certainly all over the world. Some Fillings can be very simple, so these ones marked with an Asterix can be omitted and it's still going to taste terrific (and "real"!).
1. I love using dried shiitake mushrooms in the filling because it adds incredible umami ("savouriness"). Dried is better than fresh in terms of flavour intensity. You can find dried shiitake mushrooms at Asian grocery stores and some speciality shops. It can be substituted with fresh shiitake mushrooms. If you can't find either, just leave it out - don't worry, your dumplings will still taste terrific!
2. My favourite is to ask the butcher to mince pork belly, second favourite is pork shoulder. You want the fat! If you use lean pork mince form standard supermarkets, you may be disappointed with the lack of juiciness of the Filling. If you can only get supermarket pork mince, I would urge you to add at least 2 tbsp vegetable or canola oil into the Filling mixture and mix for at least 2 minutes with your hands.
3. The garlic chives are optional. I adore dumplings with garlic chives in them, and I love the little specks of green in the dumplings.
4. Or Mirin, sake or dry sherry. If you can't have alcohol, leave this out and add an extra pinch of salt and sugar.
5. The dumpling wrappers I use are pictured in the post (Double Merino brand, Gow Gee pastry) and is sold at large supermarkets in Australia (Woolies, Coles) as well as Harris Farms and Asian Grocery stores. They are about 8 cm / 3.5" wide and 2mm / 1/10" thick. If you'd like to try your hand at homemade dumpling wrappers, try this recipe
by Maggie from Omnivores Cookbook, one of my favourite Chinese blogs. She has an excellent video tutorial in that recipe.
6. None of my favourite skillets came with lids, so I always make do with lids from large pots.
7. Dipping Sauces- my favourite is soy sauce with chilli oil or paste. Other common ones are soy sauce + Chinese black vinegar, or even white vinegar.
8. STORING: Place uncooked dumplings in a single layer in an airtight container (use paper between layers) and store for up to 2 days in the fridge, or 3 months in the freezer. To cook, defrost, then cook per recipe. Store cooked dumplings in the fridge for up to 2 days - I like to microwave to reheat then pan fry to re-crisp the bottom!
9. Nutrition per dumpling. The weight per dumpling is off because it doesn't factor in the liquid absorbed by the dumpling wrapper. Guessing it's closer to 60g / 2 oz per piece.