How to make 饺子(jiǎozi)
In our previous blog post we wrote about the many types of Chinese dumplings and a brief history of its origins and importance. We strongly believe that the best way to truly understand and appreciate a culture is to savour its foods. So let's attempt to make 饺子 (jiǎozi) ourselves. Now it may seem like a daunting task but if you break it down to the different segments and take it on one at a time it is not overly complicated.
For starters, I would recommend buying the round dumplings skins from a Chinese or Japanese (dumplings are also known as Gyoza in Japanese) supermarkets rather than making them on your first attempt. You can make the filling a day before and leave it to marinate overnight in the fridge. Letting it marinate will help bring out the flavours, but it’s not absolutely necessary if you’re short of time. There are all sorts of fillings you can put inside a dumpling, but here I have kept it simple and used some of the classic ingredients.
As the recipe is quite versatile, you can replace the pork with turkey or beef mince or omit the prawns entirely if you are allergic to shellfish. You can also opt for vegetarian fillings with a mix of cabbage, spinach, chopped carrots and mushrooms for example. The dumplings can be made in large batches and keep uncooked in the freezer. The frozen dumplings can be pan-fried or boiled straight out of the freezer which makes it a really convenient meal.
Pork, Prawn and Chive Filling for Dumplings
300g minced pork
200g raw prawns roughly chopped
1 tbsp. Chinese cooking wine
1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tbsp. oyster sauce
1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger
1 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
2 tbsp. sesame oil
4-5 onion stalks/scallions finely chopped
To be added to the marinated filling when ready to wrap:
200g Chives, finely chopped
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 packet of store bought round dumpling wrappers (approx. 50 wrappers)
A small bowl of water to dip fingers
A baking tray pan lined with parchment paper to place freshly wrapped dumplings
Combine all the filling ingredients (except for the chives and 1 tbsp. of sesame oil) in a large bowl.
Mix well. The filling should come together in a sticky mixture. I usually use my hands for this step.
Set aside for an hour or leave covered overnight in the fridge.
When you ready to wrap:
1.Finely chop the chives and mix them with 1 tbsp. sesame oil. Add this to the pork and prawn filling mixture.
2. Prepare your work surface, keeping the following within reach: a small bowl of water, the filling mixture, a small spoon for filling the wrappers, and a lined baking tray to place your freshly wrapped dumplings.
Handy tip: Wrap one dumpling and boil it in hot water as a test. You can then adjust the seasoning of your filling according to your taste.
Watch the Youtube clip below for a detailed step-by-step instructional video which shows you how to wrap your perfect Chinese dumpling饺子 (jiǎozi).
TO COOK (fresh or frozen):
Boil 水饺 (shuǐjiǎo) (Highly recommended if this is your first attempt)
Place dumplings into boiling water. When the dumplings start to float, cook for an additional 5-6 minutes. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon. Best eaten while it is hot with vinegar and some finely shredded ginger.
Pan Fried 锅贴 (guōtiē)
Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium-high heat.
Add the dumplings, flat side down, in a single layer so they do not touch. Arrange them in a circular shape with a bit of space between each dumpling as they will gradually expand when cooked.
Let the dumplings brown for 1-2 minutes.
Pour 1/3 cup of water into the pan. Cover with a lid and let dumplings steam for 3 minutes (5 minutes if frozen), or until most of the water has evaporated. Remove the lid to evaporate any remaining water and fry for 2-3 more minutes until the bottoms have evenly browned and crisped.
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large wok. Place dumplings into a bamboo steamer basket and place into the wok on a raised platform if possible. Steam for 8 minutes. Serve immediately.