Chinese dumplings (jiaozi) are one of the most traditional dishes in Chinese cuisine and a must-have at everything from family dinners to banquet meals. But a dumpling wouldn't be a dumpling without the dipping sauce that goes with it. They simply require something tangy, sometimes spicy, to help cut through the rich savoriness of the dumpling filling.
Just as there are many different types of dumplings, there's also a variety of sauces. This recipe is a quick, easy, and popular version. It uses a soy sauce and rice vinegar base with garlic, sesame oil, and hot chile oil for flavor. The sauce works great for classic pork-filled dumplings but also pairs wonderfully with pockets filled with eggs, prawns, or vegetables. With some simple substitutions, you can also make the perfect sauce for Japanese gyoza and Thai potstickers.
Instructions are given for making your own chile oil, but a store-bought version is fine to use. You can use Szechuan peppercorn oil instead. Both will give the sauce a nice spicy kick. As always, you can adjust the flavor to suit your personal preference.
Use this recipe either for homemade Chinese dumplings or store-bought dumplings. While those often come with dipping sauce, you will be better able to adjust the seasonings if you make it yourself.
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If you decide to make your own chile oil, you will start with that step. Otherwise, skip ahead to directions for the dipping sauce.
Make the Chile Oil
Gather the ingredients.
Place the chili powder or chile flakes into a heatproof bowl.
In a small saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil.
Pour the hot oil into the chili powder. Let it cool.
The chili oil can be stored in the fridge in an airtight jar or container if not used immediately.
Make the Dipping Sauce
Gather the ingredients.
In a small bowl, combine the garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 1 teaspoon of the hot chile oil. Whisk until well combined.
Serve with your favorite dumplings.
- The dipping sauce can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
- Serve the dipping sauce in individual small dishes for each guest. This eliminates any worries about "double-dipping."
What Is a Good Substitute for Rice Vinegar?
If you enjoy exploring Asian recipes, a bottle of rice wine vinegar will come in handy. It's a common ingredient in many sauces and marinades and the rice adds a sweetness not found in every type of vinegar. The best substitutes are apple cider vinegar, white wine vinegar, and sherry vinegar. Standard white vinegar is a decent option but lacks the sweetness, so consider adding a little sugar to the sauce.
- Add thin strips of ginger or chopped green scallions as a crunchy garnish that also adds flavor.
- For a hint of sweetness, stir in 1 teaspoon of sugar; brown sugar is a popular choice for Asian sauces and marinades.
- To put a Japanese spin on this dipping sauce—perfect for gyoza—substitute ponzu for the soy sauce and mirin for the Chinese rice wine vinegar.
- For Thai-style potstickers, swap the chile oil for nam prik pao (Thai chile paste) and add a splash of lime juice.