Jiǎozi (饺子) -Chinese Dumplings

Dumplings are life. Don’t believe me? Just think of all forms of dumplings you can find throughout the world, I’ll wait…See told you, dumplings are life. I honestly cannot think of a single country or culture, which does not have a form of dumplings. In the Ukraine it is perogis, ravioli from Italy, Swedish potato dumplings, Southern US chicken and dumplings, empanadas from Latin America, momos from Nepal, Jewish kreplach, samosas from India, Korean mandu, and last and certainly not least, jiǎozi from China. 

 
Here is a quick history of jiǎozi:
 
Jiǎozi (饺子) are believed to have been invented during the Han Dynasty by the physician Zhang Zhongjing as a cure for frostbitten ears (I know, weird cure), in fact the original name jioa’er (娇耳) literally translates to tender ear. There is no definite proof that he did invent them, but it is the most popular one. Since then  jiǎozi have become a popular dish throughout China, and is now popular around the world. 
 
Jiǎozi are even more popular around Chinese New Year as the moon shaped dumplings symbolize gold ingots that were once used as money and when eaten are believed to bring prosperity for the year. It can also be eaten any time of the year and for any meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner. Jiǎozi are also great for freezing and having on hand for a quick and appetizing meal. Jiǎozi are often steamed or boiled, but can also be pan-fried. 

I have been trying to work up the courage to try my hand at making gluten free  jiǎozi, but there was always some trepidation that forced my hands to stop moving towards the jar of flour. Finally, I had a good excuse to make them though. As with many people who celebrate Chinese New Year, my family decided to have a little get together and watch the Lion Dance, which luckily happened right outside our place, to enjoy the festivities together. This was going to be my chance to make some jiǎozi and test it on (hopefully) willing victims. 

I first made a small batch to see if my idea would work and when it did, moved onto as larger batch, this is a good idea if you have never made jiǎozi and want to practice first. I used Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 gluten free baking flour which is a blend of different gluten free flours and is fast becoming my favourite gluten free mix to use in all recipes. With that in hand I mixed in some water and oil and was able to produce fairly good dough. I easily picked off pieces and flattened them between my fingers. I tried to make them as thin as possible, like you would do with normal ones, but as there is no gluten to give stretch to the dough it kept breaking. So I decided to make the skins thicker, which worked and I was able to continue making as many as I thought I would need. 

I decided to make vegetarian ones with mushrooms and spinach but you can always go traditional and use pork and spring onions, or do something altogether crazy and stuff them with anything you can think of. The jiǎozi were a bit chewier then regular ones, and were better when fried and not just boiled/steamed but still reminiscent of the ones I ate in “hole in the wall” restaurants in China. These skins could also be used to make any other type of dumplings that call for round skins so if you wanted to, you could make more then you need and freeze the skins for use at a later date, I do recommend you place parchment paper in between each skin first so the jiǎozi will not stick to one another.

Overall I will definitely be coming back to this recipe to make again and will explore other ways to use it to my advantage.


PS- They were a hit at the party.
 

Jiǎozi
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 25
 
Jiǎozi Makes 25 small rounds     Cook Time: 10-15 minutes     Total time: 1 hour
Ingredients
  • 2 Cups gluten free flour, I recommend Bobs Red Mill 1-1 baking flour
  • ¼ Cup cold water
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • Minced meat and/or vegetables to stuff skins
Instructions
  1. In large bowl pour in flour, make hole in middle of flour pour oil into it then pour water in slowly. When half the water is in the bowl, mix flour and water together this will determine if more is needed. Continue to do this until dough it thoroughly mixed together and it starting to form a ball.  Continue mixing and kneading dough to firm up. Cover bowl with cling wrap and set to side.
  2. Combine ingredients for stuffing in a bowl and set to side. I used a mixture of minced mushrooms, spinach, garlic, spring onions, soy sauce and sesame oil. Also set a large pot of salted water to boil and have a pan coated in oil ready to fry up the
  3. jiǎozi
  4. Cut or pinch off sections of the dough, you want ping-pong ball sizes or larger depending how big you want the
  5. jiǎozi
  6. to be, I would not make then larger then golf ball size.
  7. Lightly dust surface with flour. Flatten out the sections and shape into a round, I used my hands for this but you can always use a rolling pin. Just make sure it is all uniform in size and evenly smooth.
  8. Hold a skin in your palms and place stuffing in the middle. Pinch two side of the skin together at the top point, then again at he corners. From each corner work your way up pinching dough together until the middle pinch. The
  9. jiǎozi
  10. should look like present moons. Continue doing this until you have reached your desired amount to make. If you find doing this in your hand is too hard you can do it on a flat surface and use both hands.
  11. Place
  12. jiǎozi
  13. into the pot of boiling water. Like pasta they will drop to the bottom and rise while they cook, they should not take longer then 5-7 minutes. Stir at least once to make sure they are not sticking. Transfer to the pan to fry up. Fry on one side for a few minutes then flip over to fry other side.
  14. Serve immediately with a side dish of soy sauce with rice vinegar. They can also be eaten when cooled.

 

Enjoy!

Here are some pictures I took of the Lion Dance:

 

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