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The many types of Chinese dumplings - 饺子(jiǎozi)

Updated: Oct 2, 2019

饺子 (jiǎozi) or Chinese dumpling is a quintessential dish in China that is consumed and appreciated throughout the country all year round in various different guises. It can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner; served as an appetiser, a side dish, or as the main course. In China, 饺子 (jiǎozi) is sometimes served as a last course in restaurants.

There are many variations of 饺子 (jiǎozi) which essentially refer to the way that the dumplings have been cooked. If the dumplings are boiled then they are called 水饺 (shuǐjiǎo), if steamed then 蒸饺 (zhēngjiǎo), or fried 锅贴 (guōtiē). 锅贴 (guōtiē) literally means “pot stickers” which you may have seen the menus of some Chinese restaurants.

饺子 (jiǎozi) is also the most important dish for celebrating Chinese New Year especially in Northern China. It is a ritual comparable to that of the roast turkey at Christmas. The pronunciation of the word 饺子 (jiǎozi) phonetically suggests the turning point between the old year and the new year. The radical 交 (as part of 饺 jiǎo) means ‘to overlap’ or ‘to cross,’ and in ancient Chinese, 子(zǐ) refers to the time between 11pm and 1am. As such families would eat 饺子 (jiǎozi) at midnight on Chinese New Year's Eve to bid a symbolic farewell to the old year and to welcome in the new. In addition, 饺子 (jiǎozi) is usually made in the shape of gold ingots (in the same shape as ancient Chinese money), and eating it during the New Year with the family symbolises good fortune and wealth for all.

The Youtube clip below introduces vocabulary in relation to making dumplings.

Click here for the Youtube clip in Mandarin with Simplified and Traditional captions.

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