If you’ve ever made any of my pan-fried dumpling recipes, you’ll know that I covet dumplings with golden brown crispy bottoms. In my opinion, the best way to get the crispiest bottoms on dumplings is to cook them with a dumpling skirt.
The dumpling skirt (sometimes called dumpling lace) is a thin and crispy tuile-like layer that’s attached to dumplings when cooked. To create this lacey layer, you make a slurry (or batter) of water, flour, and a tiny pinch of salt. Then, pour the slurry around the dumplings that are pan frying and cover the dumplings with a lid to finish the cooking process. Once the water evaporates from the pan, you’ll be left with a thin web of golden crispy surrounding the dumplings.
Even the bottoms of the dumplings will stay crispy for longer when you cook the dumpling skirt!
TIPS ON HOW TO MAKE THE BEST DUMPLING SKIRT
You only need water, flour and a tiny pinch of salt for the dumpling skirt slurry. The lace tastes noticeably better with a tiny pinch of salt. I tried experimenting with the slurry by adding garlic powder, but it didn’t add much flavor as the spices just burned during the cooking process. I also tried using various flour combinations and found that plain flour yields the crispiest dumpling skirt.
If you’d like to try making a skirt with another type of flour, try Andrea Nguyen’s recipe for a dumpling skirt. She uses rice flour instead of plain flour, which gives the skirt a subtle sweet flavor. The skirt tasted like a piece of thin rice paper that comes with a lot of Asian confections.
USE A NONSTICK PAN TO COOK DUMPLINGS
When cooking dumplings with the skirt, it is crucial that you use a nonstick pan with a lid. The skirt releases from the pan in one piece when you use a nonstick pan. Even when I used a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet, the skirt still stuck to the bottom of the pan and it was a pain to scrape off.
COOKING THE DUMPLINGS
Heat the nonstick pan with 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan (my pan is 12”). Don’t be stingy with the oil. If you use less oil, the dumpling skirt won’t be as crispy and some of it may stick to the pan.
Once the pan is hot, arrange the dumplings on the pan. If you want to serve the dumplings all in one piece, make sure to concentrate the dumplings to the center of the pan. That way, all the dumplings will fit onto a plate when you invert the pan to release the dumplings. You can hover a plate over the dumplings to check to see if they all fit inside the plate.
Cook the dumplings for 2 to 3 minutes, until they start to turn golden on the bottoms. If you are using frozen dumplings, you may need to add an extra minute or 2.
Pour the dumpling skirt slurry throughout the pan, making sure that the slurry covers all the empty spaces between the dumplings. There will be a lot of splattering because you’re pouring liquid onto hot oil. Hold onto the pan’s lid and use it as a shield to block the splatter.
Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan with the lid, and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. Then, uncover the pan. Some parts of the dumpling skirt may still be pale and the water might not have fully evaporated. Move the pan around to brown those areas that are still pale. Cook until everything is golden and all the water has evaporated.
FLIP THE DUMPLINGS ON A PLATE
Carefully place a large plate over the dumplings. Gently press down on the plate with one hand and grab onto the pan’s handle with the other hand. Flip the entire pan over the plate and carefully lift the pan to uncover the dumplings. The dumplings should release quite easily.
DUMPLINGS THAT ARE PERFECT FOR PAN FRYING
Crispy Dumpling Skirt (Dumpling Lace)
- 12-inch nonstick pan with lid, see note 1
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 1/4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- tiny pinch of salt, about 1/16th teaspoon
- 2 tablespoons canola oil, or any neutral oil
- 12 to 15 dumplings
- Pour the water into a large cup with a spout (like a measuring cup) or a bowl. Add the flour and salt and whisk together.
- Heat a large 12” nonstick pan over medium-high heat. It is crucial that you use a nonstick pan to ensure that the dumpling skirt releases from the pan easily. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and swirl the oil over the pan.
- Line up the dumplings on the pan. Try to focus the dumplings towards the center of the pan to ensure that they all fit onto a large plate when you flip the dumplings onto the plate. Cook the dumplings for about 2 to 3 minutes, until the bottoms start to turn golden. If you use frozen dumplings, this may take an extra minute or 2.
- Whisk the dumplings skirt slurry again. Next, hold onto the pan lid and use it as a shield as you pour the slurry over the pan. There will be a lot of splattering when you pour liquid over the hot oil in the pan, so use the pan lid to shield yourself from the splatters. Make sure to distribute the slurry evenly, ensuring that all the spaces between the dumplings are covered with the slurry.
- Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan with the lid, and cook the dumplings for 5 to 6 minutes.
- Uncover the lid. There likely will be some parts of the skirt that still look pale, where the water hasn’t fully evaporated. Move the pan around and focus the heat on those pale areas until they turn golden. Once the entire dumpling skirt looks golden, turn off the heat.
- Carefully place a large plate over the dumplings. Gently place one hand over the plate and use your other hand to grab onto the handle of the pan. Flip the pan over quickly so that the dumplings are now over the plate. Lift the pan to release the dumplings (they should release easily).
- You can use a slightly smaller nonstick pan, but you might not be able to fit all the dumplings on the pan at once. Make sure there is a lid that properly fits the pan to ensure that the tops of the dumplings steam and cook properly. I usually use a 12” nonstick skillet by All-Clad that comes with a glass lid. It appears that they no longer make that exact model, but they make a version with a stainless steel lid.
- Don’t be stingy with the oil. If you use less oil, the dumpling skirt won’t be as crispy and some of it may stick to the pan. If you are using a small skillet (about 8 or 9 inches), you can reduce the amount of oil slightly.