Jiaozi, also called the Chinese dumpling, is a traditional food in China, especially in northern China. In the old days, people ate Jiaozi on holidays or important days (especially on New Year’s Day), but now people eat Jiaozi more often.
Jiaozi was invented by a famous ancient Chinese doctor called Zhang Zhongjing, who was born in the Eastern Han Dynasty. Jiaozi was first invented to cure ear problems. In the old days, people were poor and easily got their ears frostbitten by working long hours outside in the cold. Zhang Zhongjing invented Jiaozi to treat the frostbite. Treated with Jiaozi, many people recovered, and in order to show their thankfulness, they ate Jiaozi when winter came to memorialize the great doctor. Over the years, it became a tradition. Now when important days like New Year’s Day occur, the Chinese eat Jiaozi.
Image of Zhang Zhongjing (Public Domain)
The family members sit down and work together to prepare the food, starting with the main ingredients. There could be vegetables and also some beef or pork. All the ingredients are cleaned and cut into a suitable shape and size. Then, we knead the dough and wait for for the right time to use it.
While waiting, we mix all the ingredients for the filling together, also adding in some flavorings, such as dried pepper, soy sauce and salt. The salt should be put in at the end, because if we put the salt in too early, too much water will come out of the vegetables, which will make the Jiaozi skins difficult to stuff.
Then, the family members cooperate with each other. One is responsible for rolling the dumpling skin and another will pack the stuffed dumplings. The family members chat and help each other, and the work goes faster.
There are many ways to eat Jiaozi -- boiled, fried or steamed.
Someone may hide a coin inside one of the dumplings, and the one who gets the coin is considered a good luck person in the coming year. The shape of the Chinese dumpling is similar to ancient Chinese gold or silver ingots, which are called Yuanbao, meaning wealth. People think this will bring them luck.
There’s an old saying: ”Few foods are more delicious than jiaozi.” People like Jiaozi a lot, not only in China, but also in many countries overseas.
Hero image by The Wu's Photo Land (CC by 2.0)