What’s Jiaozi?

Jiaozi (pronounced “Jow-ze” with the “Jow” rhyming with “ow”), are stuffed, boiled dumplings and are favorite edible in northern China. Fancy restaurants here in Tianjin often feature pages of Jiaozi varieties, ranging from mushroom and chives to sea bass to minced pork. And as for grocery stores? You’d be hard pressed to find one here that doesn’t have at least an entire row dedicated to bags of frozen dumplings, just waiting to be plopped into boiling water for a quick supper.

Today, Sam, our friend Jay and I learned how to make Jiaozi old-school style, compliments of Laurette and her family’s hospitality.  We made two kinds: pork, shrimp and green onion Jiaozi and then pork and green bean Jiaozi.  I’ll list the ingredients for each below and then follow with instructions.

How to Make Jiaozi

INGREDIENTS

Pork and Green Bean Jiaozi:

Marinated ground pork and chopped green bean mixture

Stuffing:
–Uncooked, freshly ground pork (preferably with a little bit of fat).  1 Part
–Steamed or sauteed green beans.  2 Parts
–1 large thumb-sized chopped fresh ginger
–Soya sauce
–Salt
–Sesame Oil
Dumplings Skins

Pork, Shrimp and Green Onion Jiaozi:

Pork, scrambled egg and shrimp

Stuffing:
–Uncooked, freshly ground pork (preferably with a little bit of fat). 1 Part
–Chopped Shrimp. 1 Part
–Scrambled Eggs. 1/2 Part
–Chopped Green Onions. 2 Parts
–1 large thumb-sized chopped fresh ginger
–Soya sauce

–Sesame Oil
Dumpling Skins

Jiaozi Chili Oil

Ground dried red chili peppers
Hot oil (almost any type of vegetable oil — Laurette uses peanut)

Jiaozi Dumpling Skins

Dumpling Flour (Finely ground bleached wheat flour) and water.  Really.  That’s it!

STEP BY STEP DIRECTIONS FOR MAKING JIOAZI

Preparing the Jiaozi Chili Oil

Take dried red chili peppers and grind them into fine flakes.
Place in container and then pour a portion of hot vegetable oil (not olive oil, thought) over the chili flakes so that the are covered with a small layer of oil.
Set aside to cool.

Preparing the Jiaozi Stuffing
Stuffing:

Marinate raw, fresh ground pork with soy sauce, salt, sesame oil and ginger, to taste. Laurette uses a few teaspoons of salt and soy sauce each and about 3 teaspoons of sesame oil for each type of stuffing. Allow marinated pork to sit for about 10 minutes.

Dice shrimp and set aside.

Scramble eggs and set aside.

Prepare twice as much chopped green onion as the meat and eggs. So, if you have about two cups of meat and eggs combined, you will need at least 4 cups of chopped green onions.Set chopped green onions aside.

Stirring the green onions into the egg, pork and shrimp mixture

Once you are ready to stuff the dumplings, in a large bowl, stir the eggs and meat together. Then slowly add the chopped green onions, stirring with chopsticks in one direction only (clockwise or counter-clockwise) until meat, eggs and green onions are thoroughly mixed.  The one-direction-only procedure keeps the protein products from being broken into smaller pieces.

If you are preparing the minced pork and green bean variety, simply cook the beans by steaming or sauteing and then dice. Combine beans and uncooked, marinated pork together in one bowl and set aside.


Preparing the Jiaozi Dumpling Dough
:

Jiaoza Dough. How to make Chinese Dumplings

In a bowl, mix flour with water (Laurette had about 4 cups worth of flour) until you have formed a very firm ball of dough.  Knead dough for 10 to 15 minutes.  Once completed, the dough should be so firm that adding additional flour to the homogeony would be almost impossible.  Cover.  Let sit for about 30 minutes.

Creating the Jiaozi Dumpling Skins

  1. After resting, divide dough into portions (Laurette made 4 smaller dough portions). Take one portion and knead for about a minute. Pinch the center of the dough so that a small opening forms in the center. Then, slowly rotate the dough while pulling gently until the opening has become a large circle and the dough is approximately an inch thick.

Kneading smaller portion of dough.Chinese Dumplings.Jiaozi

Pinching to create center in dough.How to make Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi)

Creating the dough ring.How to make Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi)

Forming Dough.How to make Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi)
2. Cut the circle so that it is now a thick noodle and then either pinch off 1-inch sized portions or cut them with a knife.

Pinching off the portions of dough.Forming Dough.How to make Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi)

3. Flatten these 1-inch portions slightly with your fingers or the heel of your hand.

Flattening the dough portions.How to make Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi)

4. Roll out a flattened portion into a circle about 3 inches wide, making sure that the outer edges of the circle are thinner than the center.  This creates the dumpling skin.

Rolling out the dough into a dumpling circle.How to make Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi).

Take this dumpling skin and place about a tablespoon of filling in the center.

Place stuffing inside Chinese dumplings.How to make Jiaozi

5. Fold the dumpling skin in half around the filling, making sure that one side of the dumpling half is slightly longer than the other.

6. Pinch the top of the dumpling arch.

Pinching the dumpling skin closed.How to make Jiaozi

Pinching the dumpling skin closed.How to make Jiaozi

7. Take a portion close to the bottom corner of the longer side and pull it up to a slightly higher point on the shorter side, so that a pucker has formed. Pinch closed and then move along to the top, pinching the sides together. Repeat this procedure for the other bottom corner so that the entire dumpling’s seam is pinched together. The reason for pulling from near the bottom corner of the longer side to a higher point on the shorter side is it creates a dumpling that is not symmetrical in its width. In other words, while the edges (where it is pinched) should look symmetrical when completed, the dumpling’s thickness should be fatter on one side than the other so that the dumpling more or less sits on its bottom rather than lying flat. I hope that makes sense!

Pinching the dumpling skin closed.How to make Jiaozi

Pinching the dumpling skin closed.How to make Jiaozi

8. Dip the bottom of the completed dumpling in flour and then place on floured tray.

Laurette creating the dumpling skins (and you can also see the stuffed, uncooked dumplings to the left).

COOKING JIAOZI:

1.Once you have your stuffed dumplings (Laurette said the average portion is about 12 to 15 dumplings per person), bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil.

2. Gently push dumplings into boiling water (be sure not put too many in at one time — this pot held about 30 or so) and stir briefly using the rounded, back side of the ladle, not the front.  This keeps the edges of the ladle’s spoon from cutting the dumpling flesh.

Laurette pushing the dumplings into boiling water.How to make Chinese Dumplings.Jiaozi

3. After a brief stir (about 30 seconds or so) the dumplings should float to the top. Allow floating dumplings to boil for about 5 or so minutes.

Boiling Chinese Dumplings.How to make Chinese Dumplings.Jiaozi

4. Remove boiled dumplings using a large, sieved spoon and place into bowl.

Scooping freshly boiled dumplings (Jiaozi) from boiling water

 

5. Repeat process until all dumplings are cooked.

HOW TO SERVE AND EAT JIAOZI

Serve the Jiaozi with a side of chili oil and dark rice vinegar. (I like to add a side of soy sauce as well).

Eat by spooning a bit of the chili oil, rice vinegar (and soy sauce if you like) into your small eating bowl and then dip your piping hot dumpling into the sauce!  And of course, all of this is so much more fun if you use chopsticks.

That’s it!  It’s a fun way to spend some time with friends and eat yummy food, too.  And even though I have proven to be wholly inept at the art of dumpling making (it’s trickier than it looks!) Laurette is a veritable Jiaozi goddess and makes up for the rest of us.

We all stuffed ourselves on both dumpling types until full and there were still probably twenty or more dumplings remaining. Sam had a head cold, so he could not really tell the difference between the pork-and-green-bean dumplings and the shrimp-pork-egg-green-onions dumplings, but the former were unquestionably my favorite. Which surprised me, actually, as I would have thought I’d prefer the one with shrimp.

But that’s one of the joys of new experiences, isn’t it? It challenges what you think you already know.

But now I do know how to make Chinese Dumplings (“Jiaozi”) from scratch, and I hope this step by step proves helpful to you as well!

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