When life gets hectic--especially in these weeks leading up to Christmas, we are often forced to choose between cooking a meal or sitting down at the table to eat together. Some families turn to weekly pizza night as a solution, but our weekly “go to” when life gets busy is jiaozi (Chinese dumplings).
Jiaozi can be found in the freezer section of most Chinese grocers. I buy the Wei-chuan brand because they taste good, and because they have a seal (lower left corner) assuring they've been inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Jiaozi are very affordable (I get mine for around $3.50 per bag), and they come in a many flavors:
Pork, scallops, and shrimp Pork and Chinese spinach
Chinese Celery and Shrimp Pork, Leek, and Shrimp (my fav!)
Lotus Root and Chicken Green Onion and Beef
Leaf Mustard and Pork Seafood and Cilantro
According to Andrea from Viet World Kitchen, Wei-Chuan also makes a MSG-free brand, their Shandong Dumpling series (look for 山东 on the wrapper). I haven’t seen this in the stores, but intend to keep my eyes open for it!
Jiaozi can be steamed, boiled, or pan-fried.
Boiling JiaoziWhen boiling jiaozi, make sure to follow instructions on the package. Jiaozi should come to a boil four times, and each time this happens, 1 cup of cold water must be added.
Here's how this works: after placing the frozen jiaozi into the boiling water, wait until the water begins to boil again. Next, add one cup of cold water to the pot, and wait until the water comes to boil again. Do this two more times. When the water boils after the third cup of water is added, it’s time to take the jiaozi out. You can dump the pot into a strainer (like pasta). I use a slotted spoon to take the jiaozi out, because the noodle “skin” can be fragile.
Turn burner to medium heat. Cover the bottom of the pan with oil, and arrange the frozen jiaozi in the pan. Add approximately 1/2 cup of water to the pan, and cover with a lid. Cook until the water in the pan cooks off. Add around 1/3 cup water and cook for one minute. This will keep the jiaozi from sticking to the pan when you remove them.
Next, dipping sauce! Here is my all-time favorite recipe--a slightly spicy and sweet vinegar-based sauce. Please alter and swap out ingredients according to taste.
Sweet, Spicy, and Sour Dipping Sauce
1 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
¼ tsp Kadoya sesame oil
¼-1/2 tsp Guilin chili sauce
pinch of sugar
Serve with salted edamame (which can be bought in freezer section of stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joes) and enjoy!