Let's Look at Chinese Dumplings
Chinese dumplings, also known as "jiaozi" in Mandarin Chinese, are a traditional Chinese dish that consist of a small, thin wrapper made from wheat flour and water, filled with a variety of savory fillings such as meat, seafood, or vegetables. The dumplings can be boiled, steamed, or pan-fried, and are often served with a variety of dipping sauces.
The origins of Chinese dumplings can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD), where they were traditionally eaten during the Chinese New Year as a symbol of wealth and prosperity. They are a popular food in Northern China, particularly in the regions of Beijing and Shandong, but can also be found throughout China and in Chinese communities around the world.
There are many different types of Chinese dumplings, each with its own unique filling and preparation method. Some popular types include:
- Potstickers (guotie), which are pan-fried dumplings with a crispy bottom and soft top
- Steamed dumplings (shuijiao), which are steamed and often served with a ginger and vinegar dipping sauce
- Soup dumplings (xiao long bao), which have a soupy filling and are steamed in small bamboo baskets
- Wontons, which are similar to dumplings but with a thinner wrapper and are often served in a clear broth.
Chinese dumplings can be made at home by purchasing pre-made wrappers or making your own wrappers, and filling them with a variety of ingredients. They are also a popular street food, and can be found in many Chinese restaurants and food courts.
In addition to being delicious, Chinese dumplings are also a relatively inexpensive and versatile dish, making them a popular food for families and large gatherings.
Dumpling Names Across the Globe
Chinese dumplings are known by different names in different countries and regions around the world. Some of the most common names include:
- Gyoza in Japan: Chinese dumplings were introduced in Japan after World War II and are now considered a popular Japanese dish.
- Mandu in Korea: Chinese dumplings have been adopted and adapted in Korea and have become a popular street food.
- Jiaozi, or "potstickers" in the United States and Canada: Chinese dumplings have become a popular dish in North America, particularly in Chinese-American cuisine.
- Pierogi in Poland: Chinese dumplings have been adopted and adapted by Polish cuisine and is considered as a traditional dish of Poland.
- Pelmeni in Russia: Chinese dumplings were brought to Russia by the Mongols and have since become a traditional Russian dish.
- Manti in Turkey: Chinese dumplings have been adopted and adapted by Turkish cuisine and are considered as a traditional dish.
Chinese dumplings are also known as "dumplings" or "potstickers" in many English-speaking countries, and are often referred to by their specific name, such as "steamed dumplings" or "soup dumplings".
What Are the Most Popular Dumplings in China?
There are many different types of dumplings in China, each with its own unique filling and preparation method, and each region has its own specialty. However, some of the most popular types of dumplings in China include:
- Jiaozi (饺子): Jiaozi, also known as "potstickers" in the west, is a popular dumpling dish in Northern China, particularly in the regions of Beijing and Shandong. They are made with a wheat wrapper and filled with meat and/or vegetables, and can be boiled, steamed, or pan-fried.
- Xiaolongbao (小笼包): Xiaolongbao, also known as "soup dumplings" are a specialty of Shanghai and are made with a thin wrapper and filled with meat and a flavorful broth. They are steamed in small bamboo baskets.
- Guotie (锅贴): Guotie, also known as "potstickers" in the west, is a popular dumpling dish in Northern China, particularly in the regions of Beijing and Shandong. They are pan-fried dumplings with a crispy bottom and soft top.
- Baozi (包子): Baozi, also known as "steamed buns" are a popular type of dumpling in China, particularly in the regions of Northern China. They are made with a wheat flour wrapper and filled with meat and/or vegetables and steamed.
- Wonton (云吞): Wontons are a popular type of dumpling in China, particularly in the regions of Southern China. They are similar to dumplings but with a thinner wrapper and are often served in a clear broth.
It's worth noting that China is a large country and dumplings are a staple food, you can find different types of dumplings in different regions, and each region has its own specialty.
What Sauces Go Well with Chinese Dumplings?
Chinese dumplings are often served with a variety of dipping sauces to add flavor and enhance the overall taste experience. Some popular sauces that go well with Chinese dumplings include:
- Soy sauce: A classic and simple dipping sauce made from soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sometimes sesame oil and chili oil.
- Black vinegar: A tangy and slightly sweet vinegar that is a popular dipping sauce for dumplings, particularly for potstickers.
- Chili oil: A spicy sauce made from chili peppers and oil, it adds heat and a complex flavor to dumplings.
- Sesame paste: A thick sauce made from ground sesame seeds, it has a nutty flavor and pairs well with savory dumplings.
- Garlic sauce: A sauce made from garlic, vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil, it adds a strong garlic flavor and a nice balance of acidity.
- Soy-vinegar: A combination of soy sauce and vinegar, it is a simple and balanced dipping sauce, adding a nice tangy and savory flavor to the dumplings.
- Hoisin sauce: A sweet and savory sauce made from soybeans, sugar, and spices, it goes well with meat-filled dumplings, particularly when they're pan-fried or grilled.
These are just a few examples of popular dipping sauces that go well with Chinese dumplings, but the options are endless, and you can experiment with different combinations of flavors to find your favorite. It's also possible to make your own sauce at home, by mixing ingredients according to your taste preference.
Chinese Dumpling Recipe
This recipe is for pan-fried dumplings, but you can also boil or steam dumplings by following the same process but replacing the oil with water and steaming them for a couple of minutes more. You can also experiment with different fillings such as vegetables, seafood or tofu, and you can also use round or square wrappers depending on your preference.
Chinese Dumplings Recipe
For the Dumplings
- 1 package pre-made dumpling wrappers round or square
- 1 pound ground pork ground chicken or beef works too
- 1 cup cabbage finely chopped
- ½ cup scallions finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- water for sealing the dumplings
- vegetable oil for pan frying
For the Dipping Sauce
- 3 ounces soy sauce
- 1 ounces dark soy sauce
- 1 ounces rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon hot chili oil
- 1 spash sesame oil
- chives or scallions, finely minced
For the Dumplings
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, cabbage, scallions, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
- To assemble the dumplings, place a wrapper on a clean surface and add about 1 tablespoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper.
- Dip your finger in water and run it around the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half and press the edges together to seal the dumpling.
- Repeat this process until all the filling is used up.
- Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Once the oil is hot, add the dumplings, making sure not to overcrowd the pan.
- Cook the dumplings for 2-3 minutes on one side, or until they start to brown, then add about ¼ cup of water to the pan, cover with a lid and steam for another 2-3 minutes, or until the filling is cooked through.
- Remove from heat and serve with the dipping sauce.
For the Sauce
- You can adjust any or all of these ingredients to suit your taste. Simply whisk the ingredients together, dip the dumplings in the sauce and enjoy.