Chinese New Year is ahead of us this weekend. The year of the rooster starts on Jan. 28th and all around the world, Chinese people are cleaning their houses, shopping for new clothes, and preparing for feasts. There’s much to take care of before it arrives, as the Chinese follow several traditions leading up to and during the new year to help usher in good luck and fortune.
One of the major foods eaten during the Chinese New Year and year-round in the northern provinces are Jiaozi, which are a kind of Chinese dumpling. Jiaozi typically consist of a ground meat and/or vegetable filling wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which is then sealed by pressing the edges together or by crimping. Jiaozi are always served with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce that may include vinegar, garlic, ginger, rice wine, hot sauce, and sesame oil. I made my Soy Sauce Dipping Sauce with half part Vinegar and half part Soy Sauce, which is quite tasty in all its simplicity.
Though considered part of Chinese cuisine, Jiaozi are popular in other parts of Asia and in Western countries. Jiaozi originate from China and are often referred to as wontons, potstickers, and boiled dumplings. But during World War II the Japanese discovered these magical little dumplings and named the Japanese version gyoza, which seem similar enough to potstickers.
2 lbs. baby bok choy or Napa cabbage
1/4 cup minced Chinese chives or green onions (white and green parts)
1 ½ pounds ground chicken
2/3 cup Chinese rice wine
½ cup oil
3 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ teaspoon white pepper
2/3 cup water, plus more for assembly
3-4 packages dumpling wrappers
- Wash your vegetables thoroughly and blanch them in a pot of boiling water. Transfer them to an ice bath to cool. Ring out all the water from the vegetables and chop very finely.
- In a large bowl, stir together the vegetable, meat, wine, oil, sesame oil, salt, soy sauce, white pepper, and ⅔ cup water. Mix for 6-8 minutes, until very well-combined.
- To wrap the dumplings, dampen the edges of each circle with some water. Put a little less than a tablespoon of filling in the middle. Fold the circle in half and pinch the wrapper together at the top. Then make two folds on each side, until the dumpling looks like a fan. Make sure it’s completely sealed. Repeat until all the filling is gone, placing the dumplings on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Make sure the dumplings aren’t sticking together.
- To cook the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop the dumplings in, and cook until they float to the top and the skins are cooked through, but still slightly al dente.
- Serve with soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, chili sauce, or other dipping sauce of your choice!