As the Lunar New Year is approaching, I wanted to share one of the many traditions my family partakes in when celebrating. In our culture, food holds a lot of significance, and some dishes have specific meaning. The dumpling or 饺子 (Jiǎozi) represents fortune, as they are shaped like the gold and silver ingots that were once used as currency. Although my family enjoys homemade dumplings all year round, we always make them around this time to welcome in the new year.
8 ounces Napa cabbage (about 1/4 head)
8 ounces ground pork
1/2 bunch scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped garlic chives
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons freshly grated peeled ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pound round dumpling or potsticker wrappers
To prepare the filling:
Wash and finely chop the cabbage, then sprinkle lightly with salt. Transfer the cabbage to a large bowl to remove excess liquid, and add the pork, scallions, garlic chives, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Combine the filling without overmixing. Scoop a little of the filling onto a small dish and microwave until fully cooked to taste, and adjust the soy sauce to taste.
Filling the dumplings:
Homemade dough/wrappers are always recommended for the best taste and texture, however that process takes a lot of time and effort, and pre-made dumpling wrappers work just as fine. Place the dumpling wrapper flat on your palm, and scoop around a tablespoon of filling onto the center of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to form a semi-circle, pressing down the edges to seal the dumpling. This recipe should make around 30 dumplings.
A little trick I like to use is to dip your finger into a bowl of water and wet the edges of the wrapper so they can stick together better. If you want to try and be fancy, you can attempt to fold in pleats and press them down to seal the dumpling. Also, don’t forget to flour any surface you are working the dough on to prevent it from sticking.
Cook the dumplings:
Boil a large pot of water and add the dumplings. Make sure to stir occasionally to prevent any dumplings from sticking to the bottom. Once the water comes to a boil again, add a cup of cold water to the pot and repeat for a total of two cups added. Once the water comes to a boil after the second cup, remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon.
For a different taste, you can also pan fry the cooked dumplings by just searing the dumplings until golden brown in a pan with a little oil. This becomes potstickers, or 锅贴 (Guōtiē) and I like to do this with my leftover dumplings.
Traditionally, dumplings are enjoyed with soy sauce, I also like to add garlic and black/Asian vinegar, but these can be adjusted to taste.