A Complete Guide to Preparing Jiaozi, for Clumsy Westerners
Here is a simple recipe and process that I have come up with, simply by observing
my former Chinese
housemate and current Chinese girlfriend. If I can do it, you certainly can!
I unfortunately don't have a recipe for making the wrappers
, but the round ones you can buy at any good grocery store, or any self-respecting Asian market
, should handily suffice.
Basically, use all of these ingredients to taste, with pork usually making up the majority of the filling. For reference, the last time I made these, I used a little over half a package of pork, no cabbage. With everything else, it filled 50 wraps just about perfect.
- Chop everything (mushrooms, cabbage, green onion, cilantro) very, very tiny. We're talking pencil eraser-sized bits or smaller, here. Cabbage needs to have excess water continually squeezed out of it, as you chop it.
- Put all the ingredents, sans the oil and wild pepper, in large bowl, start to mix it up, stirring in one direction only.
- Put the oil in a wok/pan, along with several pinches of wild pepper. Heat the oil, allowing the pepper husks to flavour the oil. Scoop out the husks, throw 'em away.
- Pour the oil into the mix. Continue to mix, mix, mix, until the texture is consistent.
After you have completed this, you enter the tedious, but gratifying
portion of the process: filling the wrappers.
If you are lacking in hand-eye coordination
, time, or attention span
, you can always purchase a little plastic dumpling maker. However, the results don't look as pretty...
This is an attempt to textually describe how to fill and fold the wrappers. You might want to watch someone with the know-how
, in order to "get it
Oh yeah. Be sure you have quite a bit of level freezer space.
- Set a small bowl or dish of water aside.
- put a wrapper in one hand. with the other, use chopsticks or a spoon to place a blob of dumpling mix in the centre of the wrap. Said blob should be about the size of a US quarter in diameter, maybe a little bigger. Until you get the hang of this, though, start small.
- dip your finger(s) into the water dish, and dampen the outside edges of the wrap that surround the mixture.
- Gently fold one side of the wrap overtop, forming a half moon-shape... it will, perhaps, resemble a taco to you, as well. Gently squeeze the top of the "arch" together. This leaves you with two open "loops" on either side.
- Poke the edge in, of one of the loops, thus making two smaller ones in the process. Squeeze the bottom loop tight. Repeat the "tuck and fold" step on the top loop; Seal all folds against the body of the dumpling, in the direction of the bottom loop.
- Repeat this process on the other side. When you have completed this, squeeze all the sealed edges, to assure that there are no holes anywhere along the seal.
- Place dumpling on a large tray (pizza pan, etc.) that is covered in plastic wrap or lightly floured.
- Repeat the above process until you have run out of dumpling mix and/or wrappers. Each time you complete a dumpling, assure that any two dumplings do not touch, as they may stick together, which in turn means they will likely break when cooking.
Freezing the dumplings, while not a necessary step, goes far to assure that the edges get, and stay sealed. The easiest way to do this is to line a shelf in your freezer with plastic wrap
, and place each dumpling, one by one
, onto the sheet, again assuring that they do not touch. The freezing process should not take long -- an hour, at most. When they are frozen, or mostly frozen, dump them all into a Ziploc
This is the best part!
This is the purportedly "traditional
" way to cook them. While you can just dump them in boiling water, letting them cook until they float, here's how I learned to do it, with the frozen dumplings.
- Fill the pot with a reasonable amount of water, leaving a fair amount of empty space in the top (you will see why, below). Wait for the water to boil.
- When the water begins to boil, dump a decent number of dumplings in. The water will, of course, stop boiling temporarily.
- When the water begins to boil, add 1/2 to 1 cup of cool water. When the water begins to boil again, repeat.
- When your dumplings begin to float, you can remove them with a slotted spoon, and either put them in a bowl, in a soup, or you can fry them up.
Last but not least
What good are dumplings if you don't have dipping sauce
- Chop up the garlic, green onion, nice and tiny-like.
- Mix everything to taste. A good reference is a 2:1 ratio of vinegar:soy sauce. Add a few drops of sesame oil, a pinch of sugar, and however much chili, green onion, and garlic that you like. I highly recommend any of the Lao Gan Ma brand chili sauces... they're far better than anything else, if you can find them. Hands down. No kidding.
After all your hard work, you are ready to enjoy your homemade
jiaozi... although you can continue calling them "potstickers
" if you want. Now, aren't they so much better than those silly things that come from your grocer's freezer, in the Panda