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Homemade "Jiaozi"


Article by Karen Kwong

Photography by Karen Kwong

Lunar New Year's eve was on February 11th this year. As a tradition, my family ate "Jiaozi" - Chinese dumplings at midnight.

According to Wikipedia, "dumpling is a broad classification for a dish that consists of pieces of dough (made from a variety of starch sources) wrapped around a filling, or of dough with no filling. " [Source: Wikipedia]

Dumplings are found in many different cuisines around the world. "Jiaozi" is the Mandarin pronunciation of a common type of Chinese dumplings, which are made with minced meat and finely chopped vegetables wrapped into a piece of dough skin, boiled to cooked, and can be served with different types of sources. It is considered a lucky food to eat on Chinese New Year's eve because of its ingots shape, which represents wealth in Chinese culture.

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There are many different ways to make Chinese dumplings. Each family has its own recipe. My family loves my Mom's homemade style. We made the wraps from scratch, using all-purpose unbleached flour. The flour to water (make sure to use cold water) ratio is 3 to 1 by volume. Slowly mix the flour and water, add some salt, and then hand knead into doughs.

We always make extra fillings, because Mom believes that means we will have "extra wealth". You can be very creative with the fillings ideas as many ingredients can be used to make the fillings. We usually use ground pork and shrimp. You can also use scrambled eggs for a vegetarian version. There is a wide choice of mixtures as well - mushroom, Chinese cabbage, chives, corn, celery, carrots - you can use a food processer to get them finely chopped. Some vegetable contains high water content, make sure to disgorge prior to mixing. How to flavor the fillings depends on personal preference too - we like to flavor the fillings with black pepper, ginger powder, soy sauce, salt, etc.

Mom likes to use modern kitchenwares to speed up the process. For example, we would use a mixer to make the fillings.

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As for making the wraps, Mom likes to use a pasta machine. We first roll the dough into a long strip and then cut it into little knots, then we feed the knots into the pasta machine. The thickness of the wrap requires some experiment with your own pasta machine. Each knot will be fed through the machine twice: first time at a thicker setting, and then rotate 90 degrees, fed through the next level thinner setting. That is how you make the round shape dumpling wrap.

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The last step is to fold the dumplings. We found using a straight icing spreader to help with placing the fillings very helpful.

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There are many ways to fold the dumplings. One style my kids love is the "sunflower" - sandwich the filling between two pieces of wraps, and then fold around it to form a flower shape. It is so easy to do my 6-year-old enjoys it very much!

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