Chinese dumplings come in many shapes and sizes, especially when you start to consider the many different varieties you can enjoy as dim sum. However here, we’re talking about the humble jiaozi (餃子). The jiaozi is a simple Chinese dumpling eaten across much of Asia; you may be more familiar with it in one of its many guises:
- Boiled dumplings (水餃, shuijiao)
- Steamed dumplings (蒸餃, zhengjiao)
- Fried dumplings (鍋貼, guotie)
- Japanese Gyoza
- Nepalese Momo
- Korean Mandu
Jiaozi are commonly filled with a meat (pork, beef, chicken, lamb) mixed with chopped vegetables such as cabbage, chopped chives or onions. Most importantly, the filling is evenly diced to ensure that they can be evenly mixed and seasoned, leading to a more delicious dumpling.
Jiaozi can be made by simply pressing the edges of the dumpling together, but additional pleats and folds can be added along the dumpling back to give the jiaozi different shapes. Common folds include multiple pleats from one side, along the dumpling, and pleats made from the centre, moving outwards.
Making of dumplings at home is a social affair, with the dumplings often made and enjoyed together by families for Chinese New Year. This is because the dumplings resemble little golden ingots, which signify wealth for the coming year and the act of making and enjoying them together brings unity to the family.
What you may not realise, is that making your own jiaozi at home is actually quite easy and fun to do. Modern home-cooks can now find ready-made dumpling pastries, making it even easier to make your own dumplings at home should you not have the time to roll out your dumpling pastries.