For almost 4 years, Shanghai was a place we both called home. It’s a place where you’re able to visit some of the tallest, most modern buildings in the world and then just around the corner, throw all your senses into overdrive as you experience a wet market filled with squirming live fish, cut hanging meats and fresh local vegetables.
China is an exciting country, a country where new merges with traditional. Although its a country that continues to rapidly change and evolve, its traditions, culture and family values continue as they have for so many thousands of years. One of these traditions is the Lunar New Year which is celebrated this year between January 27 through February 2nd. During this time Asia experiences one of the largest migrations of travelers in the world.
It’s estimated that around 414 million Chinese will travel during this week to well over 174 different destinations!
Typically, Chinese families take this time to visit one another, travel on vacation and…eat dumplings. Tons and tons of dumplings, literally.
Every family seems to have their own recipe twist of the traditional dumpling, or 饺子Jiaozi, as they are known in Mandarin. The tradition is to prepare and cook the dumplings during Lunar New Years Eve and then have your first delicious bite at midnight. The eating of dumplings, which actually look like ancient Chinese golden nuggets, signify wealth and good fortune in the coming year.
As the Lunar New Year begins, I asked my friends back in China, Leo Yu and Ellen Xu to share with us their own family recipes for Lunar New Year dumplings:
Ellen Xu’s Dumpling filling:
Ingredients (Makes 50-70 dumplings):
- 500g (appx. 1lb.) of minced pork
- 500g (about 2 cups) of chopped cabbage
- 1 raw egg
- 1/4 cup of olive or cooking oil
- Black pepper powder, salt and soy sauce to taste
Leo Yu’s Dumpling filling:
Ingredients (Makes 30-50 dumplings):
- 200g (appx. 1/2lb.) minced pork
- 400g (appx. 1 3/4 cups) minced green pepper
- 10g spring onion
- 5g minced ginger
- 15g soy sauce
- salt to taste
- 1/4 cup oil
Mix all of the ingredients above together, taste before filling the dough, and adjust as needed.
Now that you’ve made the filling, you need to have the dumpling dough. The dough can be bought pre-made in squares or circular shapes or can be easily home made with a little flour and water. There are many ways and styles to close and fold the dumplings, below are some example images:
You can find more directions on dumpling dough making here:
Ok, now you’re almost there. The last part is to take your mixed fillings, pop them into the dough and boil. Directions:
- Mix all the dumpling filling ingredients together in a food processor.
- Using your dumpling dough wrap about 1 teaspoon of filling in each dough wrap.
- Boil a large pot of water, add dumplings, lower temperature and cover pot with lid.
- Reduce temperature and allow to boil again.
- Dumplings will begin to float when ready.
Leo’s Tip: Try cooking a small batch of dumplings before filling entire batch of dumplings to try the flavor and alter taste of filling by adding additional salt and pepper.
Happy Eating and Happy Lunar New Year!