Chinese dumplings or jiaozi (饺子, pronounced jiǎozi) are one of the most popular and important foods eaten during Chinese New Year . In China’s northern provinces, they’re eaten year-round, and although they are considered a Chinese food, they’re enjoyed in other parts of Asia and have become popular in many Western countries too. Korean mandu (만두 or 饅頭), Japanese gyoza (ギョーザ), and Nepali momos (མོག་མོག) all share common origins with Chinese jiaozi, but use slightly different ingredients and cooking techniques- if you’re a fan of dumplings, you should definitely try these versions too!
Chinese jiaozi typically consist of a ground meat and/or vegetable filling wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which is then sealed by pressing the edges together. Finished jiaozi can be boiled (水饺, shuǐ jiǎo), steamed (蒸饺, zhēng jiǎo) or pan-fried (煎饺, jiān jiǎo). Pan-fried dumplings are also known as “potstickers” (锅贴, guōtiē), especially in the West. Don’t confuse jiaozi with wontons though- jiaozi have thicker skins and have a flatter shape like a double-saucer and are usually eaten with a dipping sauce, while wontons have thinner skins and are usually served in broth.
This recipe is a great Shanghainese-style take on jiaozi, and uses a blend of pork and vegetables for a light, flavorful filling. I like to use a mix of equal parts shepherd’s purse*, napa cabbage, and Chinese chives for a nice balance of flavors, but you can use whatever combination you like- just make sure to thoroughly squeeze out the excess water from whatever blanched vegetables you choose to use, to prevent the filling from becoming too wet.
Fair warning- this recipe makes A LOT of jiaozi! I made about 12 dozen using just 2 packs of dumpling wrappers, and still had jiaozi filling left over. Rather than filling, folding, and crimping all those jiaozi by yourself, I recommend you get your family or friends together and make a group activity out of it (similar to a tamale-wrapping party, but with jiaozi). If you don’t end up cook all of your dumplings right away, you can freeze them by wrapping the baking sheets tightly with plastic wrap and freezing the jiaozi overnight. The next day, transfer the frozen jiaozi to a Ziploc bag, and store in the freezer for later use.
- 3 lbs green leafy vegetable (like shepherd’s purse*, baby bok choy, napa cabbage, or Chinese chives)
- 1 ½ pounds ground pork (or ground chicken or beef, as long as they aren’t too lean)
- ⅔ cup shaoxing wine
- ½ cup oil
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ⅔ cup water, plus more for assembly
- 3-4 packages dumpling wrappers
Wash your vegetables thoroughly and blanch them in a pot of boiling water. Transfer them to an ice bath to cool. Ring out all the water from the vegetables and chop very finely.
In a large bowl, stir together the vegetable, meat, wine, oil, sesame oil, salt, soy sauce, white pepper, and ⅔ cup water. Mix for 6-8 minutes, until very well-combined.
To wrap the dumplings, dampen the edges of each circle with some water. Put a little less than a tablespoon of filling in the middle. Fold the circle in half and pinch the wrapper together at the top. Then make two folds on each side, until the dumpling looks like a fan. Make sure it’s completely sealed. Repeat until all the filling is gone, placing the dumplings on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Make sure the dumplings aren’t sticking together.
If you’d like to freeze them, wrap the baking sheets tightly with plastic wrap and put the pans in the freezer. Allow them to freeze overnight. You can then take the sheets out of the freezer, transfer the dumplings to Ziploc bags, and throw them back in the freezer for use later.
To cook the dumplings, boil them or pan-fry them. To boil, simple bring a large pot of water to a boil, drop the dumplings in, and cook until they float to the top and the skins are cooked through, but still slightly al dente.
To pan-fry, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat. Place the dumplings in the pan and allow to fry for 2 minutes. Pour a thin layer of water into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow dumplings to steam until the water has evaporated. Remove the cover, increase heat to medium-high and allow to fry for a few more minutes, until the bottoms of the dumplings are golden brown and crisp.
Serve with soy sauce, Chinese black vinegar, chili oil, or other dipping sauce of your choice!
Find the dumpling skins fresh at the Asian grocery store. Look for the white, round ones. If they start to dry out, wrap them in a damp paper towel and put them in a sealed plastic bag for a couple hours to soften back up.
Shepherd’s purse is generally only found in the freezer section of well-stocked Asian grocery stores in the States, but that’s not a bad thing, as washing fresh shepherd’s purse is a long and difficult process. It’s often sold under its Chinese name, so look for bags marked as “jicai” (荠菜) in the frozen vegetable section.
Freeze any unused dumpling wrappers in an airtight sealed plastic bag for later.
last updated August 17, 2023