Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What's That? Wednesday: Jiaozi

Last week I had the opportunity to make jiaozi with some local Chinese women.  Jiaozi, pronounced “juh owd zuh”, are Chinese dumplings.  Jiaozi are typically filled with meat or vegetables and wrapped in dough.  The dumplings can be steamed (which are my favorite), boiled or fried.
From what I understand, jiaozi originated from northern China, but now many Chinese enjoy eating them.  There are regional differences and I think each family has their own favorite way of preparing them.  I compare it to Southern barbecue; it’s enjoyed across the US, each region has its own specialty and everyone has their own opinions on how it should be prepared.
Mixing the ground pork.
I have eaten dumplings and watched a friend’s Ayi make them, but this was my first time to make them myself.  On this day, we were using the pre-made dumpling wrappers, but made the filling from scratch.  Ground pork was mixed with a vegetable called Chinese chive, ginger, Chinese 5 spice (I have no idea what the five spices are), soy sauce, salt and probably a few other things.  My contribution was helping to chop mounds of Chinese chive. The chives were very mild tasting and didn’t have much of a scent.

I had to take a picture of this
huge wok!

Which sauce would you like?

Chinese chive

He's a good helper!

Mixing the ginger with the pork
on an awesome chopping block!

After the filling had been made, we set out to fill each –and every --individual wrapper. Let me tell you, there were a lot of wrappers – my guess is around 500!  It took about an hour with six or more people filling. and we had a lot of wrappers to fill!  Again, I observed many women sharing their different opinions on how the crimping around the edges of the dumplings should be done.  I was taught one way and I stuck with it.  It was really neat to see the dumplings all in a row and notice the differences between the styles of crimped edges.
Starting to fill the wrappers. 

Everyone has a different way of crimping the edges.

This rectangular wrapper is a wonton wrapper.

Boiling dumplings.
Once the dumplings were filled, they were ready to be dropped in boiling water, much like ravioli or tortellini.  After a few minutes in the boiling water, the dumplings are ready to be eaten.  We all took turns eating a few dumplings, then making a few, and repeating the pattern.  

Some of the finished product.

A little of the aftermath.
There was enough filling and wrappers left over that I was able to bring some home.  My Ayi filled the rest and then froze them so we can enjoy them later.

Let's eat!
The best part of the day was watching the women interacting and cooking together.  Most of the time I had no idea what they were saying.  But, by observing body language and listening to the intonation of their voices, I knew what they were saying.  They were playfully arguing about how much spice to add, assessing when the mixture was just right, and making a case for why their way of crimping the dumplings was the best.  I could have closed my eyes and just as easily been back at our home cooking in our church’s kitchen.  Ahhh, dumplings!

1 comment:

  1. Everything you are saying in your blogs (I'm getting caught up!) is making me cry. Stop that!! :)