Zester Daily has an article and video by me that shows you how to host a jiaozi party, as well as a step-by-step look at how they are formed. The video is embedded here, as well, at the bottom of this story.
The wrappers and all of the fillings can be made ahead of time and refrigerated. In fact, they are much better this way, as the dough then has sufficient time to relax and the fillings can take on extra flavor as they marinate. (See the Tips below for more ideas.)
|Edible bottle gourds|
In the previous article on Chinese "dumplings," I introduced both a Muslim beef filling and a Cantonese shrimp and pork filling. But what if you are having over people who are avoiding meat for any number of reasons?
The best solution is a delectable meatless filling that can be enjoyed by everyone. In fact, this is one of my all time favorites, perfect for any jiaozi party. The eggs meld perfectly with the soft threads of the squash-like gourd, and only a few aromatics -- like ginger, green onion, black pepper, and rice wine -- are used so that the natural sweetness of the gourd shines through.
The star of this show is the vegetable known as the edible bottle gourd. Called hugua in Chinese, it is a sweet and juicy member of the squash family that is able to keep its shape without mushing down, and yet it has a gentle aroma that makes it the perfect foil for the curds of scrambled eggs that nestle up to it. Easy to make and certainly not at all expensive, I like to make twice as much of this filling as any other because they always disappear so quickly.
|Tender peeled gourds|
As for how many dumplings you should serve – although why jiaozi is translated as “dumplings” instead of the ravioli I have no idea – figure on about a pound of filling per four people; that way there will be enough to ensure extra.
It is always better to make too many than not enough, though. Giving your guests food to take home is also a wish that they enjoy plenty in the new year.
Jiaozi pi 餃子皮
Jiaozi pi 餃子皮
|The insides should be white & tender|
Makes 2 to 3 dozen
6 cups Korean flour, or about 4 cups all-purpose and 2 cups pastry flour
2¾ cups room temperature filtered water
Extra flour for kneading and rolling out the dough
1. Place the flour and water in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until the dough forms a ball and no longer sticks to the bowl. (You may also mix it by hand.)
2. Scrape the dough onto a floured flat surface (see Tips below), sprinkle some more flour on top, and knead the dough until it is soft and satiny. At this point, the dough should not stick to either your hands or the board, and when pinched between the fingers it will feel like an earlobe. Form the dough into a ball, dust it liberally with flour, and place it in a plastic bag. (It may be prepared up to this point a few days ahead of time and refrigerated; allow the dough to return to room temperature before shaping the wrappers.)
|Shredded & salted gourds|
3. Knead the dough gently on a lightly floured board to wake up the gluten, but avoid using too much flour, which will dry out the dough. Cut the dough into fist-sized chunks and knead them one at a time until they are once more soft and supple; use a tea towel to cover whatever dough you are not working with so that it stays moist.
4. Roll the dough out into a long rope about an inch in diameter and cut off Ping-Pong ball sized pieces. Dust these with flour. Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten it into a round disc. Roll out each piece into a wrapper about 2 inches in diameter. Lightly the dust the wrappers and cover with a tea towel; fill immediately.
5. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add about a dozen jiaozi to the boiling water and bring it back to a boil while stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Add around a cup of cool water to the pot and bring the water to a boil (see Tips). Repeat this one more time, at which point the jiaozi should be floating. Remove them to a serving platter with a slotted spoon. Cook the remainder in the same way. Serve the dumplings immediately
Muxu hugua xian木須瓠瓜餡
Muxu hugua xian木須瓠瓜餡
Enough for about 36 jiaozi
3½ to 4 pounds edible bottle gourds (zucchini, pumpkin and other squashes can be substituted)
1½ teaspoon sea salt
4 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
½ cup finely chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons regular soy sauce
3 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
1 tablespoon sugar
Ground black pepper to taste
4 teaspoons roasted sesame oil
8 fresh or plumped up black Chinese mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
½ cup fried green onion oil (or ½ cup more peanut or vegetable oil)
4 green onions, finely chopped
1. Up to a day before filling the jiaozi, peel and trim the gourds (remove any seeds), grate coarsely and place in a colander in the sink. Toss the shredded gourd with the salt. Wait about an hour and then squeeze the gourd dry in your fists. Place the shredded gourd in a large work bowl.
3. Toss in the ginger, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, pepper, sesame oil, mushrooms and fried green onion oil. Place the filling in a covered container and refrigerate.
4. Up to an hour before filling the jiaozi, toss the gourd with the green onions. Adjust seasonings (see Tips) and then fill the jiaozi.
Flour. In this recipe, as well as in every other one of Chinese pastry recipes, I call for Korean flour, which is similar in gluten content to Chinese all-purpose flour, but is of more consistent quality. As with French and Italian recipes, American flour results in a tougher dough, while Korean flour provides a gentle suppleness combined with just enough snap that you end up with perfect Chinese pasta. The mixture of American flours listed below as an alternative is a distant second when it comes to good results, as gluten qualities and freshness vary so much. You can find Korean flour at many East Asian markets.
Freezing. Uncooked jiaozi freeze beautifully, so try to make more than you think you will need. Freeze the extra uncooked jiaozi on a cloth-covered baking sheet; make sure that they do not touch each other or else they will stick together. As soon as they are very hard, remove them to a resealable plastic freezer bag and return to the freezer; boil the jiaozi without defrosting them first.
Any leftover cooked dumplings can be lightly fried in a few tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until golden all over, and they are just about as delicious as the freshly boiled ones. Do note that you cannot steam these jiaozi, as these use what is called a “cold dough” (only room temperature water is mixed into the flour), while steamed ones call for “hot dough” (where boiling water is stirred into the flour).
A perfect flat surface. One of the best places to roll out dough (or knead bread, for that matter) is the underside of a pullout chopping board. Most people use only the top side of the board to cut things on and forget that there is a nice, unblemished surface underneath. If you are lucky enough to have such a board, place a damp cloth on your counter to keep the board from moving around and place the board on top of that. Then, when you are through making the wrappers, be sure that you turn the board right side up before you put it away in order to protect its smooth surface.
|Perfect scrambled eggs|
Add the onions and cabbage last. Raw onions can overwhelm a dish and take on a slightly foul aroma if not cooked immediately. Likewise, cabbage can become watery if added to the filling to early, even if salted first. So, I recommend that for meat fillings, you pack them into containers, layer the salted squeezed cabbage on top and don’t add the onions until the last minute. The vegetarian filling, too, should wait until the last minute before the onions are mixed in.
Adjust seasoning as desired. Fry a small amount of the filling (no additional oil should be necessary) and taste it to adjust the seasoning; more sugar, oil, salt or any other fine-tunings can then be made right before you fill the dumplings.