Chicken and Shiso Dumplings

Shiso (紫蘇), or perilla, a herb I discovered only a couple of months ago, has become a staple in my kitchen. Its elegant, slightly bitter taste and  grassy aroma make it exceptional and absolutely impossible to compare to any other plant. Even though it can be used both raw and cooked, it is not as versatile as parsley, coriander or chives. On the other hand, once you find a good company for shiso, it will become an obligatory ingredient, enhancing basic and bland flavours and creating interesting, original dishes. Two main varieties – red shiso (akajiso in Japanese) and green shiso – have the same shape, but vary slightly in colour and intensity (red one is more pungent). Apart from the Japanese cuisine, perilla is also used for example in China, Vietnam or Korea.

Some time ago a Japanese friend told me how she makes beef and shiso gyoza dumplings. I promised myself I would try her recipe one day. A couple of days ago, finding a package of gyoza skins in my freezer I have decided to try shiso in dumplings. I have chosen ground chicken for two reasons. First, I only had chicken breasts in my fridge and secondly, both Ume- Shiso Chicken Skewers and Chicken and Shiso Balls have convinced me that shiso and chicken combination was foolproof. I was right: instead of dominating the delicate chicken breast flavours, shiso enhanced and sophisticated them. The dumplings were so good, I had them for dinner two days in a row. Thank you, R., for this excellent idea!

If you cannot find shiso in your Japanese shop or if it’s horribly expensive, try other Asian grocers. I find cheap shiso all year round in a Vietnamese shop. I don’t dare calling my dumplings “gyoza” since they  were simply cooked and then some of them reheated by pan frying. If you want to prepare them like real gyoza, see Nami’s “Just One Cookbook” blog for detailed instructions.

In case you have a big bunch of shiso and wonder how to use it, here are previously posted dishes, all calling for shiso:

Aubergine with Ponzu, Miso and Sesame Sauce

Chicken and Shiso Balls

Tomato and Shiso Salad

Ume-Shiso Chicken Skewers

Before I pass to the recipe details, I would like to express my gratitude to Mr. Three-Cookies (from Three Cookies blog) for making and posting my Layered Herring and Beetroot Salad. His presentation is absolutely gorgeous and I’m very proud that, as the ultimate herring specialist, Mr. Three-Cookies enjoyed my favourite herring dish (click here to see his wonderful version).

Preparation: 1 hour

Ingredients (makes 24 gyoza skin dumplings):

24 gyoza skins (or other thin dumpling skins)

2 chicken breasts (minced or whole)

4 tablespoons chopped shiso

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 medium onion

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 litres chicken stock

If using minced chicken breasts, combine them in a bowl with finely chopped onion, shiso and the remaining ingredients.

If using whole chicken breasts, cut them into chunks and mix, with onion, in a food processor.

Afterwards combine with the remaining ingredients.

Prepare a big pan of boiling chicken stock (may be  prepared with granulated chicken stock).

Brush the dumpling skins’ edges with water.

Place a heaped teaspoon of the filling on each skin and seal them.

To make sure the dumplings are well sealed, I always prick the sealed edges with a fork (on both sides).

Cook in boiling stock for about 10 minutes. (Put only a couple of dumplings at a time, so that they can “swim” easily).

Serve boiled or fried.

These dumplings can be made in advance and frozen or refrigerated. If you want to refrigerate them, separate them with cling film. Otherwise they might stick to each other.

30 Replies to “Chicken and Shiso Dumplings”

  1. Sissi, those dumplings are beautiful, and I should know, because dumpling making has been a part of my life for at least 30 years! I found some shiso leaves at my favorite Asian super market a few months ago, but the leaves were much much bigger (the size of my face, and I don’t have a small face), also to tell you the truth, I couldn’t really taste or smell much from them, so so far I am still kind of puzzled as to what I am missing… Maybe the smaller leaves are more pungent?

    1. Jeno, I appreciate your compliment particularly because I know how often you eat excellent dumplings! (You have written about dumplings quite often). I have heard that some shiso under-varieties have big leaves, but what you say sounds huge! In fact these leaves were just taken for decoration 😉 I buy shiso in branches with different shapes of leaves, but I know Japanese shops sell quite big leaves already cut from the branches (however the ones I have seen were smaller than one dumpling skin, not to mention a face!). Shiso releases its smell when you rub it or cut it. Do try them in a simple dish, you will see how they change the taste.

  2. This looks good. When I see recipes for dumplings I try to ignore it because of the process involved in making and shaping the dough. But it seems from what you have written its possible to buy the skins. I will take a look at the Asian store when I visit next.

    Thanks for the mention.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Three-Cookies. All the Asian shops here sell dumpling skins. I usually buy gyoza skins because they are round and because I often go to Japanese shops, but I know other Asian cuisines use also ready-to-use dumpling skins.
      I have written the whole process takes one hour but it’s only because I put 6 batches, each with four dumplings. Without the boiling process, I think mixing the meat, making the filling and making the 24 dumplings takes me 30 minutes. It’s really easy and quick.

  3. Your dumplings look very beautiful and appetizing. I must confess, I always use a dumpling shaper. For lazy bones: Just layer one sheet of dumpling dough inside, put a heaped teaspoon meat or vegetable tofu mixture in the middle, moisture the dough around the filling and fold the shaper. The shaper cuts the dough, makes very nice folds, glues the dough ends together by pressure and the dumpling will not split open during steaming or cooking or frying. Sometimes kitchentools are absolutely useless and will eat up your storage place only, but I will be really sad when this one will be gone someday.

    1. Thank you, Kiki! I have a dumpling “sealer” and use it quite often (I have posted its photo here: However, sometimes I enjoy sealing dumplings with my fingers and then with a fork. I love kitchen tools and gadgets and even though some of them stay untouched for years, they finally become very useful!

    1. Thank you very much, Sportsglutton! You are always welcome, I would make a special triple batch for your arrival. As I told Mr. Three-Cookies, they are incredibly quick to prepare. I have never had leftovers: these (24!) dumplings are sometimes devoured just by two hungry people for one meal 😉

  4. Sissi, I’m totally impressed with your homemade dumplings! They look gorgeous and something you would get at a fancy restaurant. Our family loves dumplings and we order them frequently but I have not ventured to make them… (time thing) – I’m all for buying the skins 🙂 Your love for Japanese food always makes me smile: “Its elegant, slightly bitter taste and grassy aroma make it exceptional and absolutely impossible to compare to any other plant.” With this kind of endorsement, shiso must be good. Real good.

    1. Thank you, Kelly. Your comments always put a big smile on my face. I will tell you the truth: it’s not difficult to make neat dumplings with ready-to-use skins.
      I know I’m a complete Japanese cuisine freak, but it’s so delicious, simple, sophisticated and healthy most of the time (and shiso is highly addictive)! On the other hand I couldn’t live without French tarts and desserts 😉

  5. Pretty presentation of dumplings! I’m so happy I can share the joy of cooking and eating shiso with you. I’ve never actually thought of sharing this joy with some Western person in Switzerland. That’s so random! Until you mentioned, I didn’t even know Korean or Vietnamese use this leaf. Your dumplings look really pretty with the natural light shining on them. And I love that blue plate…I have similar one but mine looks cheap. Yours look a lot classier. 😉 Thank you so much for the mention Sissi. Because of that I realized my Gyoza post was screwed up a bit in the ingredients section, but it’s fixed now. Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you, Nami for all the compliments. I would love to have a bit more light though… Frankly, I didn’t suspect even two years ago that I would cook so often Japanese or Japanese-inspired dishes. Japanese cuisine is never ending, but so few ingredients are necessary to create new dishes. It’s so diverse too: there is such a difference between oyakodon, korokke, aji no hiraki, miso soup and sushi! I am happy you like the plate. I have bought two and I love them (I’m sure your plate is beautiful; everything I see on your blog is beautiful).
      I must read attentively your gyoza recipe and make real Japanese dumplings one day!

  6. Your dumplings look really nice, Sissi. And looking at them right now is making me seriously hungry! … I just got out of bed!
    The leaves look familiarly like the ones we get at the Korean restaurants when you order the bbq dishes … to wrap the meat and condiments. Are they the same?

    1. Hi Ping, thank you very much! I have no idea if they are the same. Korean restaurants in my city are expensive (which doesn’t mean elegant or pleasant unfortunately) and they make you pay for a fortune for every tiny bowl of kimchi or pickles, never give you any leaves to wrap meat (I always ordered the barbecue), etc.. I went only a couple of times and stopped. You should ask them next time! (These leaves on my photo are particularly small, usually they are much bigger).

  7. Beautiful!!!
    Trust me Sissi I have been craving dumplings from last 2-3 days so badly, I got all the ingredients today….
    This looks perfect, I don’t have shiso but will still make them…
    Thanks for sharing….

    1. Thank you, Reem. You can make them with any herb you want. The taste will be different, but dumplings are dumplings 😉

    1. Thank you, Greg. I think all the Asian groceries carry dumpling skins. They are easy to handle and thaw very quickly.

  8. Sissi, I love shiso, as a matter of fact a had a shiso plant on my balcony…love the idea of shiso with chicken wrapped in a dumpling…yummie!
    Hope you are having a nice week and thanks for this delicious recipe 🙂

    1. Thank you, Juliana, I’m very happy you are also a shiso fan! (I also have one plant on my balcony but it stopped growing recently… so I have to buy leaves).

  9. Nice dumplings Sissi, where did you buy them from? No seriously – they look real pro jobs. I’m no “dumpling master” but I recognise a good one when I see one… these look really well formed and pretty too!

    “In case you have a big bunch of shiso and wonder how to use…”
    Haha, you’re so funny. I’ve never seen this mystical thing in my life – I guess they’ll sell it in the Japanese supermarket though presumably? I’ll try and get some!

    1. Thank you, Charles. Your are too kind! With ready-to-use dumpling skins all the dumplings look neat (well almost…). Moreover, boiled dumplings don’t look as good as fried ones, but frankly I prefer them boiled (for once!), so I left them as they are. I am sure you find dumpling skins not only in Japanese groceries, but also in the Korean one and in the big Asian supermarket (Tang frères?). If you ever happen to be in the XIIIème, I would go and have a look at Tang frères’ shop. I remember they had lots of fresh herbs, not only for Vietnamese/Chinese cooking.

  10. You commented on my blog that you like gyoza so I stopped by. What gorgeous looking gyozas! I have to try this recipe. I have a similar plate too. You have a great taste!

    1. Thank you so much, Nipponnin. You are too kind. I’m not particularly proud of this photograph… or dumplings. These were not fried yet (I still keep on perfecting the Japanese way of gyoza frying 🙂 ). I like Japanese plates a lot too! (Not only food).

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