Have you ever eaten Chinese dumplings? If you haven’t, you really do miss out the legendary dish. There are many timeless cuisines out there, but dumplings are just on another level of perfection. It has a rich history and symbolism behind it. And don’t even ask about the taste; it’s addictive! Now, let’s dig deeper about this Chinese cuisine.
The Chinese Dumpling Story
The story dates back in the era of the Han Dynasty.
Zhang Zhongjing, a Han official, returned to his ancestral village. At that time, an extreme winter occurred and affected many of the villagers. The villagers suffered from frostbite. Seeing this situation, Zhang Zhongjing attempted to cure the villagers by creating a medicine that will be known later as a dumpling. To cure the villagers, Zhang Zhongjing created fillings from meat, herbs, and chili. Then, he wrapped these fillings with dough and created an ear-shaped food.
He gave these dumplings along with a bowl of hot soup to the villagers with each person receiving two dumplings. Warmed with these delicious foods, the villagers were cured of the frostbite. Later on, people copied Zhang Zhongjing’s dumplings recipe and created their own version of dumplings by mixing various vegetables and meats as the fillings. It was the birth of the dumplings from Chinese. Initially, it was a medicine meant to cure frostbite. Today, it is a delicious cuisine that we all enjoy.
To put it simply, the Chinese dumplings are fillings—it can be meat or vegetable, prawn or even eggs—wrapped with dough that will be steamed with boiling water. The dumpling itself is born delicious and originally has many flavors. The most popular are pork and chive, pork with scrambled eggs and chive, pork and cabbage, and a mix of pork, prawn, and vegetable.
Meet the Traditional Dumplings from Chinese Clan
Jiaozi is a dumpling with crescent shape and pleated edges. It is typically filled with either meat (lamb, beef, chicken, or pork) or vegetables. However, some people enjoy jiaozi with unusual fillings like shrimp and even watermelon. This dumpling can be boiled, steamed, steam-fried, or pan-fried and is especially popular during Chinese New Year Eve.
Guotie or Peking Ravioli is a dumpling that is both pan-fried and steamed. At first, the dumpling is fried until one side turns brown. After that, it’s steamed for several minutes. When served, the dumpling is flipped over so that the brown side is on the top.
Har Gow is a dumpling with shrimp and bamboo shoots filling wrapped in a translucent, smooth and shiny skin. The dumpling skin is what makes this type popular. The smooth skin is created from wheat starch, an ingredient that’s readily available in Asian markets. Har Gow is usually a part of Chinese dim sum.
Siu Mai is a dumpling with a basket or cup shape, usually filled with pork. It has a puffy and super soft texture. As for the skin, its wrappings are mostly round.
Storing Your Dumplings at Home
The way you keep your dumplings at home can determine the finishing result of those fluffs after fried or boiled. To store dumplings properly, you will need freezer bags, a silicone baking sheet, and freezer. In case you don’t have a silicone baking sheet, you can use aluminum foil or parchment paper together with the baking sheet.
Once everything’s set, here’s what you need to do:
- Prepare the dumplings until they are ready for you to cook.
- Line the silicone baking sheet. Put the dumplings on the baking sheet but don’t stack them. Place them in the freezer.
- Once they are frozen, put them on the freezer bags and you’re all done!
This process can make the dumplings last up to three months. It is advised that you put on a label on each freezer bag and write the date along with the content of the dumplings as a reminder. Also, you don’t need to thaw them before cooking. You can cook them right away although it may take a bit longer time.
How to Cook Frozen Dumplings
Alright. If you have succeeded in storing your dumplings, you may have another question popping out on your mind.
What is the right way to cook them?
Basically, it’s similar to how to do it when you freshly made the dumplings. You can either boil, steam, steam-fry, or cook it in the microwave and fry. Each of these methods brings different results and varies in preparation time. For instance, the easiest way is boiling the dumplings while the fastest way is microwave and fry.
While boiling is the easiest way to cook frozen dumplings, it’s also the most time-consuming. It results in dumplings with a soft texture. To boil dumplings, prepare a pot and fill 2/3 of it with water. Let it simmer. Then, add the dumplings into the boiling water. Wait until they float. Wait for a bit, pick them up, drain and serve.
To steam, simply place the dumplings inside a steamer. Put the steamer on a saucepan (or a wok) which you have previously fill with water. Cover the steamer, turn on the stove, let the water boil, and wait for about 10 minutes. After being steamed, the dumplings will have a firmer but a bit stretchy skin.
If you want a soft and crispy texture at the same time, steam-fry is the answer. First, fry the frozen dumplings on a pan with several tablespoons of oil for two minutes. Then, add water until it covers the dumplings. Wait until they are steam through and finally, fry them again when the water evaporates.
Microwave and fry is the fastest method to cook dumplings. It takes no more than five minutes and results in juicy, tender, yet crispy dumplings. To do it, put the dumplings in a microwave-safe container. Add water until they are half covered. Then, microwave the dumplings for about three minutes. While waiting for the dumplings to be done, add several tablespoons of oil into a frying pan and preheat it over medium heat. When the dumplings are done, drain them, and allow them to cool for 15 seconds. Put the dumplings on the pan and cook until they turn golden brown and place them on a plate.
Jiaozi vs Wontons
Chinese dumplings or Jiaozi are similar to Wontons. Still, they’ve got some distinctiveness in terms of fillings. While jiaozi’s fillings are mostly meat, such as lamb, beef, chicken, pork, fish, shrimp, or chopped vegetables, Wonton, on the other hand, usually has diced shrimp and minced pork as fillings. Also, Jiaozi usually has thicker skin, unlike Wonton.
Chinese Dipping Sauce for Dumplings
1. Sauce #1
- 1 teaspoon of hot chili oil
- 2 crushed garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons of Chinese rice vinegar
- 2 teaspoon of sesame oil
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
How to Make:
- Mix all the ingredients above.
- Serve or store the dipping sauce in a sealed container and put in a refrigerator. Use the sauce within 3 days.
2. Sauce #2
- Sesame oil
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 tablespoon of Chinese BBQ sauce
- 1 tablespoon of chopped spring onion
- 2 tablespoon of soy sauce
- couple drizzle of sesame oil
How to Make:
- Mix all the ingredients above
- Before serving the dipping sauce, leave it for at least 20 minutes
Authentic Chinese Dumpling Recipe (with Pork / Beef Filling)
Here’s the recipe you’ve been waiting for!
Ingredients for the dough:
- 1/4 teaspoon of salt
- 1 1/4 cups of cold water
- 3 cups of all-purpose flour
Ingredients for Filling:
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground white pepper
- 1/2 minced spring onion
- 1 cup of ground beef or pork
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of Chinese rice wine
- 1 peeled and minced garlic clove
- 1 1/2 cups of shredded Napa cabbage
- 2 slices of minced fresh ginger
- 3 tablespoons of sesame oil
- 4 tablespoons of shredded bamboo shoots
How to Make the Dumplings:
- Gather all the ingredients above
- Put the salt into the flour and stir it
- Stir in the cold water until it forms a smooth dough
- Turn the dough into a ball
- Cover the dough ball. Leave it alone for at least 30 minutes
- Meanwhile, add white pepper, rice wine, salt, and soy sauce to the meat. Stir the mixture
- After a while, mix the remaining ingredients to the meat. Stir and mix the ingredients well
- To create the dumpling dough, turn the dough into a ball
- Divide this ball into 60 pieces. Next, roll out each piece until they become a circle with about 3 inches of diameter
- Take a tablespoon of the filling and place in the middle of each circle
- Wet the edges of these circles with water
- Fold the circle over the filling and create a crescent shape. Seal the dumpling by pinching the edges. Do this to all of the dumplings
- To cook the dumplings, take a pot and fill it with water. Bring it to boil then add as many dumplings as possible. Stir the dumplings to avoid them sticking together
- Bring the water to a boil again. Add a half of cup of cold water. Cover and repeat
- Wait until the dumplings come to their third boil. Drain and remove them
- That's it. Your juicy dumplings are ready to serve!