What is behind the traditional Chinese dumplings?
What are Jioazis in general
Surely some are familiar with the term dumpling, which appears in several country's cuisines. Dumpling basically means nothing more than dumpling and thus describes exactly what jiaozis are.
Jiaozis come from China, the country of origin of dumplings. They are about 3 to 4cm long and thus slightly larger than Japanese gyoza. Jiaozi come in an infinite number of variations and are usually served together with other dim sum gegessen.
Traditionally, jiaozis are prepared together with the family on the Lunar New Year and eaten afterwards. The traditional filling consists of a minced pork mixture, ginger, Chinese cabbage, sesame oil, garlic and soy sauce. Jiaozis are then eaten with a dip of soy sauce, rice vinegar and chopped garlic.
What do an emperor and a doctor have to do with Jiaozi
The history of the origin of the jiaozi is very legendary and special, moreover, is that there are even two legends.
The first legend says that there was an emperor who wanted to live longer. He promised himself to achieve this goal by eating 100 different dishes a day. He commissioned a cook to take on this complicated task. The cook was at his wits' end and in desperation filled dumplings with leftovers from the previous day. When he was later summoned by the emperor, he feared for his life, as he was threatened with being killed if he did not bring 100 dishes to the table. However, contrary to his expectation, the emperor was delighted and awarded the dumplings.
Another legend revolves around a doctor from northern China named Bian Que. In northern China at that time, many people suffered from frostbite because of the bad winter. The doctor wanted to help with herbs, but they were difficult to cook loosely. So he wrapped them in leftover dough and gave them to the patients. The patients ate the cooked dumplings and were supposed to get well. The jioazi, which are eaten nowadays, are supposed to remind of him.
How are jiaozis made
Making jiaozi is not necessarily complicated, but requires a little practice. The dough consists of flour and warm water. It is important that the water does not boil, so that the dough becomes more elastic. The elasticity of the dough is essential for the later shaping. The water should also not be added all at once, but gradually. Then knead the dough for at least ten minutes until it becomes a homogeneous, smooth and slightly sticky mass.
The dough is then rolled out. The thickness of the dough should be selected depending on the later intention with the dumplings. If you want to fry or steam the jiaozi, then a dough thickness of 2mm is sufficient, if you want to cook them, then you need a thickness of about 3-4mm.
When it comes to the filling, the ingredients should be chopped as small as possible. You can also puree them, but should be careful not to make a mush. Even processing is important so that the filling can be cooked evenly later. The filling should also not be too moist so that it does not soak the dough. This applies in particular to jiaozi that contain watery Chinese cabbage, for example.
The filling should be kneaded with your hands for 5-10min and then left to rest for just under an hour so that all the spices come through.
After rolling out the dough, cut out circles with a diameter of about 9cm using a serving ring or a glass. The cut out circles are moistened at the edge to get the wavy edge later.
Once you have placed a small heap of the filling in the center of the dough circle, fold the edges together as if you were closing a book and gently press the edges together. You can also press them with a fork, but you must be especially careful.
What to do with the jiaozi blanks afterwards
There are - depending on your preference - more or less three methods for the further procedure.
1. steaming: In a steam basket made of bamboo, the jiaozi are gently cooked with steam. The advantage here is that the dumplings are not greasy in this way, because they were not fried in fat.
2. cooking: For those who do not have a cooking oven or if you just want to do it quickly: You can also cook jiaozi in a pot of salted water for two minutes. However, with this method, jiaozi will be softer than the other methods or even mushy.
3. fry and lightly steam: in the pan, fry the flat side so that it becomes crispy. Then water is added and a lid is placed on the pan until the liquid evaporates. Then they are fried again to maintain the crispness.
See also Prepare jiaozi (dumpling recipe) I Chinesisches Rezept I Dim Sum I Yung’s Kitchen
Are there vegetarian and vegan jiaozi?
Traditionally, jiaozi are not vegetarian except for the dough, let alone vegan. Nevertheless, there are well over 40 different variations and there are basically no limits to creativity when it comes to the filling.
Delicious vegan options include jiaozi with spinach and goji berries, with glass noodles, carrots, mushrooms, onions and garlic, or with cabbage and tofu.
Or just do it like the emperor's cook and process leftovers from the refrigerator.