This weekend we invited friends over to celebrate the Year of the Dragon with us by making Chinese dumplings (jiaozi). This was our first jiaozi-making party since our college days, when we co-hosted a party for 20+ international students in our friends’ tiny apartment.
This year, since half of our guests were children under the age of seven, we wanted our party to be simple and kid-friendly. We used frozen dumpling wrappers from our local Chinese food store. They defrosted on the counter in about two hours with the wrapper off.
We made two different fillings, pork and shrimp and pork only, based on our friend Rob's recipe from years ago.
Rob’s Dumpling Recipe
2 lbs of ground pork, turkey, or shrimp (We ground shrimp in our food processor.)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons of brandy, sherry, or other aromatic alcohol (We used Shaoxing cooking wine.)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Mix all of the above together and let sit.
1 inch fresh ginger
3-4 stalks spring onion
Either 8-10 celery stalks or one small head of Chinese cabbage (Cabbage should be approximately 1/3 of meat mixture; we used about ½ of a large head for one recipe.)
Mince ginger, green onion, and cabbage, each separately.
(A food processor works great for mincing Chinese cabbage, but we found that it needed to be cut into big pieces before being tossed into the processor to ensure uniform mincing.)
Squeeze excess water out of cabbage.
Mix minced veggies into meat and store in fridge until party.
Makes filling for around 90 dumplings. (We divided the recipe in half and used pork only for one half and pork and shrimp for the other.)
Everyone helped with the wrapping, though the two-year-old’s dumplings were subjected to a second inspection to make sure the edges were totally sealed. Since our expert jiaozi maker from Beijing wasn’t able to come and instruct us, we experimented to find the best way to crimp and seal the dumpling wrappers. This experimentation resulted in beautiful creations subsequently named “the stegosaurus” and “the full moon.”
(Above, the "stegosaurus," "the wave," and "the purse")
When the dumplings were ready to eat, we set them out with other simple dishes: cool cucumber salad, a tofu dish, stir-fried bok choy (qing cai), and white rice. We also provided kid-friendly food such as “fishie” crackers, juice boxes, and berries. After dinner, the kids scampered off to play while the adults enjoyed cherry pie, fresh whipping cream, and spiral jade tea.
All in all, it was tremendous fun, and my daughter is already talking about next years’ party. I think we will add a vegetarian filling to the line-up as well as a contest (and award, of course) for the most creative wrapping style. For those of you who want to get a head start on the competition, the filling must stay within the wrappers.
If you are planning to host a dumpling-making party this weekend, check out Carolyn Phillip’s wonderful recipes and instructional video. Also check out Kelly the Overthinker’s dragon cake. So cute! I wish I had discovered this one last week.