Chinese cuisine: the classic recipe for Jiaozi dumplings
Chinese cuisine actually consists of various very different regional cuisines, all of which have spread across the world and developed in different ways in – for example – Asia, America and Europe.
Yin and Yang, the fundamental twin pillars of ancient Chinese philosophy, are also important in Chinese cookery. Yin is seen as being present in fresh ‘female’ food, like fruit and vegetables, while Yang is manifested in hot ‘male’ foods containing meats and spices. In other words, just as the right wine must be in harmony with the food eaten, so Chinese dishes have to maintain a balance between complementary opposites like hot and cold, male and female, sweet and sour, and so on. An example?
Jiaozi Dumplings… a dish for special moments
Dumplings are a much-loved key element in Chinese cookery. Their name, Jiaozi, indicates the period between 23:01 and 23:59 on the night of the Chinese New Year’s Eve, the moment just before the old becomes new. They are therefore considered, as the old saying goes, “zhao cai jin bao”, or “harbingers of wealth and treasures.” All over the world, countless Chinese families gather and celebrate the moment of preparing the New Year dumplings, together expressing a rite that symbolizes both family and hospitality. A characteristic feature is their thick folded pasta, pinched together along the sides. They are extremely simple to make.
The ingredients for preparing roughly 40 Chinese-style dumplings are:
- For the Pasta:
- 120 ml hot water
- 200 gr white flour
- For the Filling:
- 300 gr minced pork
- c. 150 gr sweet prawns
- 1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
- 3/4 tablespoon of soya sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon of rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of sake
- peas for decoration
- half a leek
- half a small onion
- 1 chive
- pepper to taste
Firstly, prepare the pasta: pour the hot water onto the flour and knead for roughly 15 minutes. Shape the pasta into a ball, place it delicately in a bowl and cover it with cling-film. Leave to stand for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, get to work on the filling: whisk the onion and chop the chive. Stir all the other ingredients together, place the mixture in another bowl, then cover it and place in the fridge for 40 minutes.
Back to the pasta: divide the dough into 5 or 6 pieces. Remove one piece at a time, leaving the others covered by the cling-film. Roll the first piece of dough into a very thin sheet, and then cut into discs 8 cm in diameter.
Place 1 teaspoon of filling in each dough disc and then use your fingers to fold and close it into a small bundle. Carry out the same procedure with all the remaining portions of dough.
You can now choose between two cooking methods: in a steamer or in a pan.
- In a steam cooker: line the cooker with perforated baking paper, place the dumplings on the paper and cook for 8-10 minutes.
- In a pan: oil the pan with 1 tablespoon of vegetal oil and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Heat the pan, then add the dumplings and fry lightly until they begin to brown. Next, without turning them, pour 100 ml of hot water down the sides of the saucepan, cover, lower the heat and leave to cook for 8-10 minutes.
And that’s it! Invite friends or family and serve with soya sauce, chili sauce or soya, sesame oil, rice vinegar and chopped chives and coriander.
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