Chinese dumplings, also known as jiaozi (饺子), are often wrapped and eaten during Chinese New Year. Families will gather together to make the dough and the filling, then wrapping them together around the table. The dumplings will then be cooked in boiling water or stock and served with other Chinese delicacies.
Chinese dumplings are considered very auspicious because they tend to look like yuan bao (元宝), which are golden ingots, hence serving and eating dumplings are believed to bring prosperity and wealth. In the olden days, a clean coin would be wrapped in one of the many dumplings, and the one who found the coin would have extra luck and prosperity.
But of course, this tradition is gradually being forgotten - with parents being too busy and children being more picky about their food, Chinese dumplings are often not prepared anymore during Chinese New Year. Many families prefer to book a restaurant outside and dine there. Though my family doesn't wrap dumplings for Chinese New Year, we've never gone out to a restaurant for dinner on Chinese New Year eve - my grandparents will whip up delicious dishes and we will all sit together around this tiny round table (more than 10 of us!) and eat together.
Moving on... this little dumpling became famous over the centuries and was widely spread to the whole of Asia. Don't be confused with guo tie (锅贴) or gyoza - they are not prepared the same way as the traditional dumplings. They are first pan-fried in a little oil before water is added and the pan covered to steam the dumplings.
I made the pork dumplings twice and I really think this recipe is a keeper. The first time I made it without the cabbage and we all agreed that it lacked some crunch - hence I added napa cabbage (大白菜) for extra texture. The additon of water chestnuts (马蹄) would be nice too, but it's really tedious to peel and chop the chestnuts hence I didn't do it, but I probably would if I have the time and patience to do so in the future. (:
Let's get started with the recipe!
Cast of ingredients: minced pork, napa cabbage, spring onion, garlic, ginger, chicken stock, sesame oil, light soy suace, vinegar and white pepper
(First, salt the napa cabbage to remove excess moisture in the vegetables - which is not photographed here!)
Place the minced pork in a bowl.
Add in a little stock to moisten it.
Stir it around - you wouldn't want to add too much water, just a bit to make the texture smoother.
Add in the chopped spring onions, drained cabbage, ginger and garlic.
Add in the seasonings: vinegar first...
... then sesame oil...
... and then light soy sauce.
Stir it around then cover it and refrigerate the mixture for the flavours to blend with one another.
Fast forward and wrap them - it was my first time wrapping them and I admit they don't look very pretty - more practice is needed!
(I learned how to wrap the dumplings by watching a youtube video, which I've attached at the end of the recipe) (:
Boil them in plain water / stock and serve!
Chinese Pork Dumplings (makes 50 - serves about 6-8 people)
400 gram napa cabbage (大白菜)
1 kilogram minced pork
80 ml chicken stock / water
1 ½ bunch spring onions / scallions (青葱)
A knob of old ginger (老姜), about the size and length of a thumb
4 garlic cloves
400 - 500 grams dumpling wrapper
2 tablespoons white vinegar (白醋)
4 tablespoons sesame oil
3 ½ tablespoons light soy sauce
1 teaspoon white pepper
Chinese black vinegar (黑醋)
Thinly sliced young ginger (子姜)
Chop the Napa cabbage finely. Wash and drain well. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon table salt evenly over the cabbage. Toss / mix the cabbage to coat the cabbage with salt. Let it stand aside for 15 minutes.
Place the minced pork in a bowl. Add in the stock / water and mix well with a pair of chopsticks.
Wash the spring onions to get rid of the dirt. Chop off the bottom of the spring onions and chop the remaining into small pieces. Alternatively, use a pair of scissors to snip the spring onions into small pieces. You should end up with roughly about 1 cup of chopped spring onions.
Peel the old ginger and grate it finely, which should yield about 1 to 1.5 tablespoons of ginger. Peel and grate the garlic cloves as well.
By now the cabbage should reduce in size (wilted) and soften. Rinse to get rid of the salt and squeeze out the water thoroughly.
Add the chopped spring onions, grated ginger, grated garlic and cabbage into the minced pork. Add in the seasonings (white vinegar, sesame oil, soy suace and white pepper). Mix them well and cover with a clingfilm. Refrigerate for an hour for the flavours to combine.
Place a spoonful of the meat filling onto the dumpling skin. Wet the corners of the dumpling and wrap, making sure you seal the edges very tightly. At the end of the recipe is a video from where I learned how to wrap the dumplings. Place the wrapped dumplings on a plate dusted with corn flour. Do not place them too close to one another else they will stick to each other. Cover them with a damp tea towel. Keep the unwrapped dumpling skins under a damp tea towel as well to prevent the skins from drying out.
To freeze the dumplings: Place the wrapped dumplings on a floured plate and place it in the freezer for at least an hour. Transfer the frozen dumplings into a resealable ziploc bag and consume within 2 months.
Boil half a pot of water.
When the water has come to a rolling boil, add in the dumplings (do not over-crowd them) and lower the heat to medium. When the water has return to a boil, add in a cup of cold water. Wait for the water to return to boil again, and add in a second cup of cold water. Let the water come to a boil and the dumplings should be cooked. This whole process will take about 5 minutes.
Rationale: The reason for this is to cook the dumplings more gently rather than boiling them straight for 5 minutes which may cause the dumplings to break. Thanks Bobbi for the advice!
To cook frozen dumplings: Do the same as above, just repeat for another time by adding a third cup of cold water and let the water come to a boil.
Use a slotted spoon and scoop the dumplings out. Place them on serving plates and serve with Chinese black vinegar and thinly sliced ginger.
- For more texture, add in 250 grams of peeled and chopped water chestnuts.