Turn your next girls' night into a hands-on adventure with a make-your-own dumplings party. You'll be the guide, teaching your friends how to fill and shape their own pot stickers, wontons, and more.
Here's how to set it up: As host, you buy the wrappers and make the fillings and sauces ahead of time. Set up six workstations (our menu serves this many); inexpensive flexible cutting boards work well. Divide fillings evenly among workstations in small bowls or plastic cups, and set out lots of wrappers—include extras in case of dumpling failures. Print the illustrated instructions to place at each station. Work through the recipes, one by one: Each person makes three of each dumpling. Decide if you want to cook one recipe at a time and pause to eat between batches, or if you'd rather cook them all at the end. Either way, dinner will be delicious.
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Pork and Chive Dumplings with Red Chile Oil
The pleating of these dumplings is a bit more advanced; if guests have trouble, they can make half-moons and skip the pleating. Make the chile oil up to 5 days ahead; store in the fridge, but bring to room temperature before serving.
Shumai (pronounced "shoe-my") are pretty open-faced, purse-shaped dumplings. Though there are no seams to seal and the shape is generally free-form, it does take a little finesse. If you can't find round gyoza skins, cut square wonton wrappers into 3- or 3 1/2-inch circles with a biscuit cutter.
Flecked with peppery watercress, these soft chicken dumplings make for a slurpy-good appetizer soup. Be sure to use regular ground chicken (not chicken breast) for the best flavor and texture. For this recipe, you'll be making the nurse's cap dumpling shape. The sauce, all the fillings, and the broth for this soup can be made a day or two ahead of the party. If making dumplings just for you and your family, you can double up and freeze a batch of uncooked dumplings. No need to thaw before cooking—just add an extra minute or two to the cook time.
A two-tiered bamboo steamer is a wise and modest investment. You can often find them at Asian markets or online for less than $10. And while they're great for dumplings, they can do more. Use them for steaming vegetables (think fingerling potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, or artichokes), fish fillets or chicken, mussels or clams, stuffed cabbage rolls or grape leaves, or even tamales.