Learn how to make popular Chinese dumplings jiao zi that can be boiled (shui jiao) or pan-fried (guo tie) with juicy fillings. Homemade jiao zi is the best!
Wrapping jiao zi is seriously one of my favorite things to do. I found it a therapeutic activity 🙂 It’s also one of the things that most Chinese families do together for Chinese New Year celebration. Everyone gathers around the table, they roll, they wrap, they chit chat 🙂 Jiao zi is one of the-must-have foods for celebrating CNY. The shape of the jiao zi resembles the ancient Chinese gold and silver and hence it represents wealth.
Jiao zi is also a general term for dumplings in Chinese cookery. It is called jiao zi because of its horn shape. If you are new to Asian cooking, you may be wondering, how about wontons ? aren’t they considered dumplings ? yes they are, but they aren’t considered in the jiao zi’s group. The skins used to wrap the fillings for jiao zi and wonton are different though. Jiao zi’s skin is made of just flour and water, hence the “paler” color, while wonton’s skin is made of egg, flour and water and you can tell from its yellowish color. Jiao zi is usually made with meat fillings and some veggies. This may vary slightly too from recipe to recipe. It’s not difficult to make your own jiao zi once you get a hang of it and they can be delicious appetizers in no time.
CHINESE BOILED DUMPLINGS AND POTSTICKER DUMPLINGS
Jiao zi can be boiled in water, which is called Shui Jiao (水饺) and pan-fried on the stove, which is called potstickers (鍋貼). Guo tie literally means stick to the pot. The Japanese gyoza is a similar concept to Chinese guo tie.
THIS RECIPE IS CONVENIENT
Making the filling for jiao zi is really not difficult at all. Making the wrapper from scracth does take some time. I prefer to use premade potsticker wrappers. They are usually at the refrigerated section or sometimes in the frozen section. If it’s frozen, just thaw them in the fridge overnight and they are ready to be used after that. Make sure you get the right wrapper. Jiao zi wrapper is thicker and round in shape.
TIPS FOR REALLY GOOD CHINESE DUMPLING FILLING
1. Choose pork with some fat
This is a must for moist and flavorful filling. If you use lean meat, well, it’s healthier, but do expect healthy result too 🙂
2. Use egg
The addition of egg also helps to keep the filling moist
3. Use oil
I mean..this makes sense right?
3. Use cornstarch
Mom likes to add a bit of cornstarch to meat filling like this. It helps to make the meat more tender
4. Add the vegetable last
I use chopped Napa cabbage for this recipe and so it’s important to add the veggies last after the meat is marinated or the vegetables will start “oozing” out water and makes the filling too watery
5. Allow enough time to marinate
Allow at least 1 hour to marinate the filling. I like to marinate overnight (up to 12 hours) for maximum flavor
HOW TO FOLD TRADITIONAL PLEATED JIAO ZI
I wrapped the dumplings in three different ways. From simple to some more interesting pleats
1. TRADITIONAL PLEATS
Place a small amount of filling in the middle of the wrap. When you start to get the hang of it, you can fill up with more filling. Dab water around the edge of the wrapper
Fold into half, but don’t seal yet. Just pinch the middle part together
Then start to fold a little bit of the wrapper towards the center. Fold and press to seal. Continue with next fold and press
Now you are done with one side. Fold and press the other side towards the center
This is how it looks like after it’s done
2. LEAF PLEATS
This version has pleats on both sides versus just one side like in traditional pleats. Place a small amount of filling not in the middle, but following the length of the wrap. When you start to get the hang of it, you can fill up with more filling. Dab water around the edge of the wrapper
Fold into half but don’t seal yet
Pinch seal the end with two fingers and start folding both sides and press down to seal
And continue to do fold and seal until you reach the other end. This version is a bit tricky to get right the first few times. I still need more practice myself, but the more you do it, you’ll get the hang of it.
3. HALF CIRCLE
I didn’t take step by step photo for this one because it’s pretty straight forward. Place a small amount of filling in the middle of the wrap. When you start to get the hang of it, you can fill up with more filling. Dab water around the edge of the wrapper and then fold into half and press to seal
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How To Make The Best Jiao Zi (Boiled and Pan-Fried)
- 40 piece premade pot sticker wrappers
- 350 gr ground pork (preferably with some fat)
- 1 large egg (about 50-55 gr)
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- ½ cup green onion finely chopped
- 2 cups Napa cabbage finely chopped
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tsp grated garlic (2 cloves)
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp Chinese black vinegar
- Mix the soy sauce and black vinegar in a small dipping cup/bowl and set aside for later use
- Toss the chopped cabbage with about 1 tsp of salt and let it sit for about 15 minutes. This step is to draw out water from the cabbage so it won't make your filling watery later. Lightly rinse with water to get rid of excess salt. Squeeze out as much water as you can. Set aside
- In a bowl, combine the ground pork, egg, aromatics, and seasonings. Stir with a chopstick in one direction until the mixture is sticky and pasty. Add the green onion in and stir to combine. Cover and let it marinade for at least 1 hour or overnight if you have time
- When ready to wrap the dumplings, add the cabbage in and stir to combine
- Scoop about 1 Tbsp or more of the filling on the wrapper. If you don't plan to do any pleatings, use your index finger, run a thin layer of water along half of the inner rim and press both sides together to create a tight seal, forming the shape of a half circle. Please refer to my post above for pleating some patterns
For boiled dumplings (Shui Jiao):
- Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Drop the dumplings in. You may need to do this in batches if you make big batch. Stir the dumplings so they won't stick to the bottom of the pot. The water will start to boil over. Pour 1/4 cup of cold water and let it come to a boil again. The dumplings should float. Remove with slotted spoon and dip them quickly in a bowl of cold water briefly, and then transfer to a serving platter
For pot stickers (guo tie):
- Use a non-stick pan with a lid or cast-iron will work too. You need a lid that can cover whichever one you use. Preheat about 2 Tbsp of cooking oil.
- Place the dumplings on the pan. You may need to do this in batches
- Lower the heat to medium and let them cook until the bottoms are nicely golden brown, about 3 minutes
- Pour in 1/4 cup of water and immediately cover with a lid
- The steam helps to cook the dumplings. Lower the heat to low-medium and cook for another 2 minutes
- Remove the lid and crank up the heat to let the liquid evaporates and the oil appears again. The dumplings are kinda sticky to the pan at this point (pot sticker remember?). Let the oil continue to cook the dumplings until the bottoms are crispy and nicely browned. The bottom shouldn't be sticky anymore and you can easily remove from the pan to serving platter. Serve immediately with dipping sauce