At the South Arm Community Kitchen, Vanessa brought along a new friend, Ming. Ming is from Beijing and she was a chef back there. We are fortunate to learn from Ming how to make jiaozi from scratch. Yes, even the dough is made from scratch.
The timing is just right as Chinese New Year is just around the corner. Jiaozi is a traditional food during Chinese New Year. Ming enlightened us on why jiaozi is eaten during Chinese New Year. For one, the shape of jiaozi resembles the gold ingots which is a form of money used during the past. Therefore, jiaozi is believed to bring wealth in the new year. Also, the Cantonese believes that the way the filings is wrapped in a wrapper keeps the wealth within the family.
Jiaozi is also believed to get its name from the shape which resembled horn shape.
There are various filings for jiaozi. Garlic chives or also known as Chinese chives is the most common one. The mild garlicky flavour of the chives complements the flavour of the pork very well. I had blogged about other types of jiaozi here and here.
ground pork (can also use ground beef or lamb), about 2 lbs
garlic chives, 1 bundle, finely chopped
chicken bouillon powder (optional)
The garlic chives has flat leaves unlike the regular chives which has hollow rounded leaves.
First,we have to make the dough for making the jiaozi wrapper. Ming made the dough all by feel. Therefore, there is no measurement to the ingredients. First, put flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center.
Add warm water, a little at a time into the well while mixing with hand.
When the dough comes together like a ball, dump it onto a floured counter.
Knead the dough until it’s smooth.
Covered the dough with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 to 30 minutes. According to Ming, the flour in Canada has very high gluten and the dough need to be rested so that when you roll it out, it will not shrink back.
While the dough is resting, prepare the filings. Place the ground pork in a large bowl. Season the pork with salt. minced ginger, chicken bouillon, sesame oil and cooking oil.
Use one or two pair of chopsticks to stir the pork in one direction until the pork is stringy.
Add water bits by bits and continue to stir the pork. Ming used about 1 1/2 cups of water for 2 lbs of pork. The end product is a very soft mixture. Ming told us that the juiciness of dumpling comes from the water not the oil.
Add the finely chopped chives and mixed thoroughly.
After the dough has rested, take a portion of it and make it into a doughnut shape, i.e. with a hole in the center. Stretch the doughnut shape dough evenly until the diameter is about 1.5cm.
Break apart the dough nut shape dough and hold with one hand like shown.
Use the other hand to twist and break the dough into smaller portion, about 2 cm or the length of half your thumb.
Place the small pieces of dough on a floured counter.
Ming told us that this is a professional rolling pin. I might get one of this.
Ming showed us how to roll out the dough into a jiaozi wrapper. She rolled from outside to the center of the dough while turning the dough. She always gets a round wrapper while the rest of us gets odd shapes. It’s all about practice.
Fill the wrapper with about 1 heaping teaspoon of filings.
Bring the wrapper together and pinch the center to seal. Home-made wrapper does not need water to seal as the dough is sticky enough. Do not put too much dry flour on the counter while rolling the dough or else the wrapper wont stick.
Use both hand to crimp the sides of the jiaozi. Make sure it is properly sealed.
Making jiaozi requires lots of helping hand. That’s why, after the Chinese New Year eve’s reunion dinner, the whole family will sit together to make jiaozi. It’s a great time for family members to catch up with one another. To freeze the jiaozi, place them on a baking sheet in a single layer and freeze them for 30 minutes. Remove from the freeze and store them in ziplock bag, seal the bag and refreeze. This way, the jiaozi will not crack when you cook them.
To cook the jiaozi, bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add in the jiaozi, do not add too many to the pot. Stir the side of the pot to prevent the jiaozi from sticking. Cover and let the water comes back to a boil. Add a cup of cold water, let it comes back to a boil, uncovered this time and add another cup of cold water. When it comes back to a boil again, the jiaozi is cooked. If you cook the jiaozi from frozen state, you will have to add the cold water 3 times. Jiaozi is usually served with vinegar. The tanginess of the vinegar helps to cut the greasiness of the pork.