about We are Akila and Patrick. Our minds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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jiaozi (chinese dumplings)



Judging by the fact that I last posted a recipe in June , over five months ago (eeks!), you might think that we haven't been eating much.  If anything, we have actually been eating too well, as the scale likes to remind us.  The problem: Japan and China have made us lazy.  Unlike Australia and New Zealand , where we were eager to cook our own meals, the restaurants in Japan and China demand our attention.  And, we succumb to the lure of perfectly cooked tofu , fast thick noodles , and plump juicy dumplings.

Chopping cilantro Pork with ginger and cilantro
Eggs being beaten for jiaozi Chinese ingredients

Pork filling for jiaozi

Eggs with tomato jiaozi

Preparing jiaozi fillings

I am a bit obsessed with the dumplings here in China.  I like how my tongue clicks hard against the last syllable of the Mandarin word "jiaozi" and how my tongue rings against the roof of my mouth of the English word "dumpling."  Semantics aside, I bite into the thin translucent dough and am surprised by the fillings of egg and tomato, egg and chives, mushrooms, or green pea shoots.  Patrick munches through the pork and chives, beef and ginger, and pork and cabbage dumplings.  I want to carry one of the jiaozi shops, where the wrinkled men stand at the counter and rapidly roll rounds of dough, fill them, and toss them into bamboo steamers, with me back to the United States.

Jiaozi dough Jiaozi dough
Jiaozi dough Jiaozi dough

Jiaozi dough

Seeing as that isn't a likely option, we decided to learn how to make jiaozi from Chunyi Zhou, a perky woman who teaches classes in a traditional house in one of Beijing's hutongs, with Hutong Cuisine .  Within a few minutes, we were enmeshed in dumpling making.  We began by building the fillings which are, truth be told, very simple recipes.  For the beef and pork recipes, we added minced meat with soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, and chopped vegetables, with a small amount of water and salt to create a moist, sticky filling.  The egg-based fillings used loosely scrambled eggs combined with soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, and chopped vegetables.

Jiaozi dough

Jiaozi dough

And, then, it's time to get your hands dirty.  The dough is a mix of all purpose flour with water, kneaded together, rolled into a long strip, and then cut into rounds.  We flattened the rounds and rolled them into thin circles.

Rolled dough Jiaozi dough
Jiaozi dough Jiaozi


The tricky part is creating the lovely pleats in the jiaozi wrapper.  After an hour building dumplings, I am still not sure that I make them correctly.  Our instructor taught us to hold the wrapper in the palm of our hands, fold one edge over the other at a diagonal and seal the wrapper, and then put each subsequent fold against that first pleat (see this video on folding jiaozi ).

Fried jiaozi

Fried jiaozi

Or, you could make the much easier fried jiaozi by sticking the filling in the middle and then sealing the two edges together.

Fried jiaozi Pork jiaozi

Fried jijaozi, steamed jiaozi

To steam the dumplings, place them in a stainless steel or bamboo steamer and let them steam for a few minutes, until the dumplings are translucent.  To fry the jiaozi, place them in a single layer on a pan lightly coated with oil.  When the bottoms stick, add some water to the pan so that the top of the jiaozi steams, resulting in a half-crispy, half-tender dumpling.


Egg and chives, egg and tomato jiaozi

Whichever way you make them, these are the next best thing to catching a plane to Beijing.

Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings)

From Hutongcuisine Cooking Class
Time: 3 hour
Serves: About 6 people (depending on how many types of jiaozi you make)

Meat Fillings:

Pork and cabbage

3 1/2 ounces minced pork (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup of finely minced Chinese cabbage, celery, or carrot
1/2 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1 teaspoon finely diced spring onion
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

Beef with onion

3 1/2 ounces minced beef (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup spring onion or cilantro
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
2 teaspoon rice wine
1 teaspoon sesame oil

Egg Filings:

2 eggs
1/2 cup chopped tomato or chives
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice wine
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil


Note: this is enough for one of the types of fillings --- if you are going to make all three, then you need to triple the amount of dough.

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup water


1. Make the meat filling: Add the salt to the vegetables and let sit for about 10 minutes until the vegetables become watery.  Squeeze the water from the vegetables into a separate dish.  Add the meat to the soy sauce, rice wine, ginger, and sesame oil.  Mix it, stirring only in one direction.  Add a small amount of water squeezed from the vegetables 3 times unti the meat sticks together.  Add the vegetables to the meat and mix them together.

2. Make the egg filling: Loosely scramble the eggs in a sautee pan until they are still slightly wet.  Then mix the remaining ingredients together with the eggs.

3 .  Make the dough: Mix water and flour together and knead it until it becomes a thick dough.  Cover for 10 minutes with a wet cloth.  Knead again and then roll into a long round strand.  Cut into 16 small balls.  Flatten each ball into a round slice and then roll into a round disc.

4. Make the dumplings: Place one disc onto the flat of your palm, then place a teaspoon of filling into the center of the disc.  Place a little water on the outside edge of the dough.  Fold the dough over at an angle onto the other side, fold one crease over and then pinch it to the side, and continue creasing and pinching until you reach the edge of the dumpling.  For the fried dumplings, place the filling into the center of the disc and just fold the edges of the disc into the center.

5. Steam the dumplings: Spread a small amount of oil on the bottom of the steamer and put dumplings into the steamer.  When the water is boiling, steam the dumplings for 10 minutes until the dumplings are translucent.

6. Fry the dumplings :  Spread a tablespoon of oil in a sautee pan and put dumplings into the bottom of the pan.  Cook the dumplings on medium low heat until the bottoms turn golden brown.  Add water to half the height of the dumplings, cover, and cook until the water evaporates, about 4 minutes.

7. Dipping sauce: Mince 6 cloves of garlic finely, and mix with 3 tablespoons of dark vinegar, 3 tablespoons of light soy sauce, and 2 teaspoons of sesame oil.