Beyond Potstickers: A Chinese New Year Tradition

Traveling for me is a whirlwind of experiences for me. The sights, the sounds, the food, the people! It’s something I just can’t get enough of. Kind of like pizza or chocolate ;). My favorite way to explore a new place is to immerse myself in to the culture of where I’m at. When in Rome, right? You will be amazed at what you find. The world is very different and interesting place. The best way to experience a people and their culture is to partake in a festival, or a tradition. While some traditions and festivals are small, limited to a town or even a geographical area, some are quite larger, spanning countries, and even following people as they move abroad. One of my favorite festivals is Chinese New Year. From the food, the parades, to the dragon dances and the fireworks, it’s something you have to experience! A definite bucketlist item!


 Depending on the country, the traditions of Chinese New Year vary. Some are universal, passed down from generation to generation, while  others are specific to a region or even a change of habitat. My favorite tradition of Chinese New Year would have to be the food! If you know anything about me, I don’t eat to live, I live to eat. Food is an adventure for me and I’m always out to try new things.  

Ever since I was a kid, I was facinated with the celebration of Chinese New Year. Mainly because of the stories and pictures of all the fireworks being shot over Victoria Bay in Hong Kong, but everything else it entailed. Pretty much any holiday that could get me out of school for a few days, I was a fan of. But there was something about Chinese New Year that stuck with me, and during one of my first visits to China, I made the trek to Hong Kong to see what all the excitement was about. Let’s just say that the stories and pictures as a kid did no justice! It was fifteen days of non stop action. Parades, fireworks, and lights! There are two main events that cannot be missed; the first being the amazing fireworks display I previously mentioned that takes place over Victoria Harbor. The second celebration is the infamous night parade that travels along the streets of Tsim Sha Tsuji. The parade is made up of illuminated floats, performance artists and dancers. Even Disney Hong Kong is lit up in style! During the festival, gifts of money in red envelopes, called Hong Bao are exchanged as a sign of prosperity and good luck.


  
Another one of my favorites is the staying up until midnight and eating dumplings, or Jiaozi to ring in the new year. Jiaozi is also eaten as the first meal on the fifth day of the new year. The significance of the Jiaozi is huge in Chinese culture, and it’s similarity to Hong Bao is interesting. They look like the golden ingots yuan bao used during the Ming Dynasty for money and the ingots were also given as some of the earliest versions of Hong Bao. The name Jiaozi sounds like the word for the earliest paper money, so serving them is believed to bring prosperity. Some cooks will hide a coin in one for the lucky to find.  

With Chinese New Year right around the corner, the festivities will be ramping up all over the world! Traditions will be celebrated and a great time will be had. I want to share with you the tradition of Jiaozi by giving you the recipe. While these dumplings are traditionally eaten during the Chinese New Year, they can be had at any time. And not only are they filled with history and tradition, they’re pretty delicious too!

Jiaozi | Traditional Chinese Dumplings

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup warm water

Filling:

1/2 lb ground pork

1/2 cup Chinese chives, or scallions, chopped

2 tbsp bamboo shoots, diced

1  tbsp ginger, diced

2 tbsp garlic, diced

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp Chinese Shaoxing wine or rice wine

1 tsp sesame oil

Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tsp granulated sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp chili oil

1 tsp chili flakes
Method:

Mix the flour with water and knead it for about 20-25 minutes or until the dough gets soft. Separate the dough into two portions and roll them into cylinders, about 1 inch in diameter. Cover them with wet towel and set aside. To prepare the skin, cut the dough into 1/4 in. length and use a rolling pin to flatten it until it becomes a round skin about 3 inch in diameter. You can also save time by purchasing premade skins at almost any grocer.

Mix the pork, chives, bamboo shoots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine in a large bowl. Make sure when preparing the chives, you only use the green part. Once mixed thouroughly, chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Holding a skin flat, in the palm of your hand, put a spoonful of filling into the center of the skin.  Wet the edges and fold in half, forming a half moon shape. seal it up tightly with your fingers, removing any trapped air. There is no crimping needed, but can be done by pinching fingers together to form pleats around the dumpling. Repeat until all the filling is used.


  
While the traditional way of cooking Jiaozi during Chinese New Year is to use a bamboo steamer basket, there are a few methods you can try to keep things interesting.

Boil: Boiling dumplings is the most simple way to cook them. To do so, bring a large pot of water to a slow boil. Add the dumplings and cook until they float to the surface. Cook them for an additional 2-3 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to remove them to a plate.

Steam: Pour about 2 inches of water into a dutch oven or a wok, and bring to a boil. Arrange the dumplings in a single layer in a bamboo steamer lined with napa cabbage leaves or parchment paper. Cover the steamer, place it in the pot, making sure the dumplings don’t touch the water, and cook at a low heat for about 6 minutes, or until cooked through.

Pan-fry: Heat a nonstick pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, allowing it to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the dumplingsto the pan without letting them touch. Add water until it reaches halfway up the dumplings. Cover the pan and cook over medium high heat until all the water has evaporated and the bottoms are browned and crispy.

While the dumplings are cooking, mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, chili oil and chili flakes in a small bowl for dipping. Serve dumplings while hot.



You can also make these to freeze and eat at a later date, just make sure to thaw them before cooking.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! Do you have any traditions you enjoy? Let me know more about them by commenting below. And don’t forget to subscribe by clicking here!

 

Jiaozi | Traditional Chinese Dumplings
 
Author:
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Jiaozi | Traditional Chinese Dumplings
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ cup warm water
  • Filling:
  • ½ lb ground pork
  • ½ cup Chinese chives, or scallions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp bamboo shoots, diced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, diced
  • 2 tbsp garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp Chinese Shaoxing wine or rice wine
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Dipping Sauce:
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili oil
  • 1 tsp chili flakes
Instructions
  1. Mix the flour with water and knead it for about 20-25 minutes or until the dough gets soft. Separate the dough into two portions and roll them into cylinders, about 1 inch in diameter. Cover them with wet towel and set aside. To prepare the skin, cut the dough into ¼ in. length and use a rolling pin to flatten it until it becomes a round skin about 3 inch in diameter. You can also save time by purchasing premade skins at almost any grocer.
  2. Mix pork, chives, bamboo shoots, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil and rice wine in a large bowl. Make sure when preparing the chives, you only use the green part. Once mixed thouroughly, chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Holding a skin flat, in the palm of your hand, put a spoonful of filling into the center of the skin. Wet the edges and fold in half, forming a half moon shape. seal it up tightly with your fingers, removing any trapped air. There is no crimping needed, but can be done by pinching fingers together to form pleats around the dumpling. Repeat until all the filling is used.
  4. While the traditional way of cooking Jiaozi during Chinese New Year is to use a steamer basket, there are a few methods you can try to keep things interesting.
  5. Boil: Boiling dumplings is the most simple way to cook them. To do so, bring a large pot of water to a slow boil. Add the dumplings and cook until they float to the surface. Cook them for an additional 2-3 minutes, then use a slotted spoon to remove them to a plate.
  6. Steam: Pour about 2 inches of water into a dutch oven or a wok, and bring to a boil. Arrange the dumplings in a single layer in a bamboo steamer lined with napa cabbage leaves or parchment paper. Cover the steamer, place it in the pot, making sure the dumplings don't touch the water, and cook at a low heat for about 6 minutes, or until cooked through.
  7. Pan-fry: Heat a nonstick pan over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, allowing it to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the dumplingsto the pan without letting them touch. Add water until it reaches halfway up the dumplings. Cover the pan and cook over medium high heat until all the water has evaporated and the bottoms are browned and crispy.
  8. While the dumplings are cooking, mix the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, sesame oil, chili oil and chili flakes in a small bowl for dipping. Serve dumplings while hot. You can also make these to freeze and eat at a later date, just make sure to thaw them before cooking.

98 thoughts on “Beyond Potstickers: A Chinese New Year Tradition

  1. You make it look so easy to make these dumplings -They look and sound Delicious. Thanks for sharing how the Chinese New Year is celebrated throughout the world. Happy Chinese New Year!!!!

  2. Nice to know how to make the chinese dumplings… I guess as I am veg I can put veg fillings inside the dumplings. Good to know about the excitement of the chinese new year as well… exciting.

  3. amazing photo os Hong Kong with the fireworks going off wow. We have never reached Hong Kong yet the kids so want to go to Disneyland in Hong Kong maybe one day soon. The dumplings look amazing we always buy dumplings at the local market they are amazing

  4. I have ALWAYS wanted to know how to make these classic dumplings! ABSOLUTE comfort food! Thanks for the recipe, Joe!
    The Philippines boasts the oldest Chinatown in the world and Chinese culture has been assimilated into almost every part of Filipino culture and more prominently in Filipino cuisine! Have you tried nian gao (colloquially known as tikoy)? It’s a sweet rice cake usually prepared by dipping in beaten eggs and then deep fried! It’s popular during the celebration of Chinese New Year.

    1. That’s really cool! I didn’t know that the oldest Chinatown was in the Philippines. Which island is it on? I have had tikoy, didn’t know it was called nian gao though.

  5. I must say, this is the best ever read on Chinese New Year. So much life you have instill in it with your vibrant account.
    I can relate with you when you say you live to eat…. i am just like this. I travel to eat.
    Good to have found you. Lets stay connected.

  6. I love Chinese food and I, too, have been fascinated by Chinese New Year. We celebrated when I was a child, although we have no connection to China. I never ventured into making my own Chinese food at home but I’ll give these a try.

  7. We were in Hong Kong for (Western) New Year and it was hilarious at how NON partying it was! I kept saying, “But man, I bet Chinese New Year is awesome here!” I normally am the same way about food being an integral part of cultural immersion, but I had some NOT so great Dim Sum experiences in HK, granted…that is just probably my picky, Western ways 😉

    1. I do agree with you about our western ways. Sometimes our palate is a bit more diverse, so some dishes turn us off. That being said, some of the best Dim Sum I’ve had was in Macau. It is funny how calm it is during a western New Year. Kind of surprised me when I first visited at that time.

  8. So interesting to read about Chinese New Year in China. Peru boasts the oldest China town in Latin America and the food specialities are called “chifa.” So nice to compare and contrast the differences! Great post and amazing pictures.

  9. These dumplings look so tasty! I’ve never tried to make them at home. It’s always been a restaurant treat. Your recipes and explanation make me believe I can do it! Thanks!

  10. What a fantastic post, I’m made dumplings many times, but find that I have to either freeze them intact of cook them right away or else they getting mushy on the skin and fall apart quickly. Love your Hong Kong stories.

    1. I’m glad you liked my post! Sometimes the water from veggies used inside the dumplings can cause that. Try squeezing the water out of the veggies(usually cabbage), if you use them. It should help!

  11. Beautiful photos! my favourite is the reflection of the dragon in the water. I wish I could say that I’ll make the dumplings but that looks way too complicated for my meagre cooking abilities.

  12. Never made Dumplings before but will definitely try this recipe!

    The thing I like the most about the Chinese new year are the decorations. Even here in London, Chinatown was with so much light and looking nicer than usual.

  13. I love Chinese New Year, my family are Chinese-Filipinos who immigrated to NYC while I was a child. Some of my favorite memories of my short stint in Manila was how much fun we had in Chinese New Year and how much Jiaozi and noodles we ate during this holiday. When we moved to NYC, we continued to celebrate Chinese New Year. I also have great memories of helping my aunt make these delicious dumplings.

  14. I remember celebrating Chinese New Year in elementary school. We would gift each other those little red envelopes with something small like a quarter or a piece of candy inside, and there was always a mini-parade with a Chinese Dragon in the gym. I hadn’t thought about that in years, until I read your post! I adore that picture of the dragon floating over water, and this dumpling recipe sounds (and looks) incredible! I might have to make this myself.

  15. The recipe seems a little bit to complicated for me to try. I kove Chinese dumplings, or in fact, I love dumplings no matter what country I’m in, but I’d rather eat them in a restaurant or have someone make them for me 😉

  16. I would love to experience Chinese New Year in Hong Kong – the fireworks display over Victoria Harbor has been on my wishlist for a while now. We have celebrations for the Chinese New Year in Australia, and the Sydney Parade is pretty decent though I have no doubt it’s not even on the same scale as what it would be like in China or the surrounding nations/provinces.

    Thanks for sharing your recipe – I’m a horrible cook so I’ll try it lol though I may hang out for some authentic food from China itself :D!

  17. So awesome to have the recipe for that! I’ve always wanted to make these myself, so this is my motivation to do it. I really like the Chinese rice cakes that are often used in traditions like this. They have such a unique texture but I like them a lot.

  18. Your photos are amazingly beautiful. And those pot stickers? I cannot believe those are homemade. I can guarantee mine would not look like those. Chinese New Year is a fun family tradition for us as well. My son is only 5, but he loves to celebrate all of the different cultural holidays. This one is a great one for kids! Yay Year of the Monkey!

    1. Happy Year of the Monkey! That’s awesome that you and your family celebrate the different cultural holidays. I did growing up and I think it gave me a greater appreciation for places and it’s people.

  19. I currently study in England but a lot of my classmates are from China, so I get to know a lot about their traditions as well. It’s so interesting! My classmates were all so excited for the New Year celebrations, it’s one of the most important celebrations in China. We also talked about hong bao or “lucky money” as they call it. Would love to experience the Chinese New Year live one day.

  20. Awesome post, Joe! Seeing the fireworks over Victoria Harbor would be incredible! My husband and I have been fortunate to spend CNY in several Chinese cities, Singapore, and this year in Cambodia where there is a surprisingly large Chinese population. The celebrations have been different in each places, but the holiday is always lots of fun, and the food is always delicious. We will have to try out your jiaozi recipe! Cheers 🙂

  21. Wow thanks for this recipe of traditional Chinese dumplings. I don not like the skins I buy from grocers. They seem to be not as soft as they should be! I lived in the Philippines and they were so available. Chinese New Year is celebrated there, too!

    1. It could be because they’re cold, that makes them more stuff and less pliable. Try keeping them out for a bit, or making them from scratch. I need to get to the Philippines for Chinese New Year! I here it’s amazing!

  22. I love Chinese New Year too, I always loved watching the parade and the dragons. Of course, the food is a must! Especially dumplings and egg rolls. Your pictures are amazing, it looks soooooooo delicious! If I ever have time, I will love to try to make it! I will use your recipe 😉

  23. Looks delicious! I am Chinese, and we eat Jiaozhi during Chinese New Year, and when you gotten the one with the coin inside, it means that you would have good fortune for the upcoming year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *