jiaozi galore

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Last year I spent five weeks in China living with a family in Changsha, the capital of Hunan province, as part of a traveling semester abroad. I was studying public health, and while it was an incredible adventure, China rather was difficult on my stomach. Although American Chinese food bares only a slight resemblance to actual Chinese food, I haven’t had any since being back in the country. So, after almost a year, I felt compelled to spend an evening this week making the dumplings that I learned how to make from the family I lived with in China. Zoe had also spent some time last year in Hong Kong, so the two of us turned 111 Pacific into a dumpling-making factory for the night. This is what I love about dumplings:

1.) it’s an activity

2.) you can put almost anything in them

3.) you can make hundreds, freeze them, and have them for the next month if you so choose!

After combing through our fridge and what remained in our CSA share, we made a few different varieties for the filling:

– Mushroom and Scallion: sautée diced onion in olive oil, add garlic. Add in a few handfuls of diced up mushrooms, a handful of chopped scallions (or leeks will do), and some chili pepper flakes. After a few minutes, add a few tablespoons of water to keep mushrooms moist. Add more if necessary. The longer the mushrooms sautee sits on the stovetop, the better. I would recommend at least 30 minutes. This filling tastes so good, I had to really resist from eating it before filling the dumplings! Once cooked, scoop it all into a bowl and sprinkle a few sprigs of torn-up cilantro on top.

– Baby bok choy and butternut squash: Roast squash in the over for about 20-30 minutes at 350F. Remove from oven and cut into small pieces. Cut bok choy into pieces about 1/2 or 1/4 inch long. Sautee it with onions and garlic, adding some fresh ginger, the squash and scallions. I poured in some of the remaining juice from the mushroom mixture (see above) into the sautee for more flavor.

– Egg and Mushroom: Cook up a plain three-egg omelette and slice it up into small pieces, making squares about the size of a scrabble tile. Put into a bowl and spoon in a few spoons worth of the mushroom filling and mix it all together.

– Crab: we had some leftover crab meat from the crab-fest a couple nights before. Zo put it on the stove top and added part of a can of coconut milk,  along with ginger and garlic.

Now for the fun part… wrapping the dumplings…

– You can get basic dumpling wrappers at any Asian market/grocery store for pretty cheap. Zoe had made some from scratch a previous time, but it sounded too labor intensive for my liking. Don’t keep the wrappers in the fridge for too long before using them, as they can get dried out and are harder to work with.

– To fill the dumplings, place the dumpling wrapper on a flat surface. Keep a small cup of lukewarm water on hand. Dip your finger or the end of a chopstick in the water, and trace around the perimeter. This is to make sure the dumpling stays sealed once you wrap it.

– Drop one spoon of filling onto the center of the wrapper. Pick up the whole thing and loosely fold it as if it were a taco. With your thumb and forefinger, press the ends of both sides together. Now for the trickier part… Keep the side closest to you straight. You are going to be folding the OTHER side (the one farther from you) into the side closest to you. Lightly pinch together the top edges of the dumpling  about 1/2 an inch from the left corner with your left thumb and forefinger. Then stick your right finger between the two open edges of the wrapper, and fold the edge that is away from you over to the left where you lightly pinched the sides together, and pinch. Repeat this down the right side of the dumpling. When you’re done, makes sure the top is fully sealed together so that nothing spills out. This should make a lovely crescent-shaped dumpling. Place the wrapped dumplings on a cookie sheet, and if using a meat filling, make sure to distinguish between those with meat and those without (they require different amounts of cooking time).

To cook the dumplings, I did three separate methods: boiling, steaming, and frying.

– Boiling: I think this tastes the best, however I do not think they as attractive looking and there is more likelihood of them bursting. To cook, just drop the dumplings into a very large pot of boiling water. The water should be at a rolling boil. You can drop in about a dozen at a time. Then add about a cup of cold water into the pot. If there is no meat in the dumplings, they will cook very quickly. Keep the dumplings in the boiling water for about 2-3 minutes. To remove, use a straining ladle or a spoon.  Serve with soy sauce, sweet and sour sauce etc…

– Steaming: Bring a few inches of water in a deep pot to a boil and add a steamer. Place dumplings in and cover for a about 5 minutes. If the seal is a little crunchy, you’ve still got more time to go. Serve.

– Fry: Heat a few teaspoons of canola oil in a large pan. Make sure there is enough oil to fully coat the bottom of the pan. Place dumplings in pan and heat on the stove at medium-to-low heat. Once you begin to see the dumplings turn golden-brown, turn them onto their side, and add a couple tablespoons of water. Be careful though with your hands! Once you start to see the sides of the dumpling start to slightly bubble, they are finished. The dumplings should look lightly toasted. Yum!

Enjoy!

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2 Responses to “jiaozi galore”

  1. zoe Says:

    dumplin dance 🙂

  2. Ctine Says:

    I do hope you saved some for me to try!

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