Celebrate Chinese New Year with delicious dumplings
Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, is China’s most important festival. It is time for families to be together and a week of an official public holiday.
This year falls on Friday, February 12, 2021, beginning the year of the Ox. with China’s public holidays from February 11–17, 2021. The date of Chinese New Year is decided by the lunar calendar, the holiday falls on the second moon after the Winter Solstice on December 21st so ever year the New year falls on different dates between January 21st and February 20th.
The festival has a history of over 3,000 years. Over the centuries new traditions were added and celebrations became more entertainment orientated. The main activities include putting up decorations (red is the main colour of the festival), eating reunion dinner with family on New Year’s Eve, firecrackers and fireworks and giving red envelopes and other gifts. Food plays a huge part in the celebrations with specific foods eaten to bring good luck.
The Luckiest New Year Foods
Food for the New Year emphasises lucky symbolic meanings. These foods are eaten for the New Year’s Eve family reunion dinner.
7 Lucky Foods to eat during Chinese New Year
- Fish (an increase in prosperity)
- Chinese dumplings (great wealth)
- Spring Rolls (wealth)
- Tangyuan (sweet rice balls)(family togetherness)
- Good fortune fruit (fullness and wealth)
- Nian Gao (Glutinous rice cake) (a higher income or position)
- Longevity Noodles (happiness and longevity)
Below we have included some Chinese new year inspired dumplings….
Dumplings generally consist of minced meat and finely-chopped vegetables wrapped in a thin and elastic dough skin. Popular fillings are minced pork, diced shrimp, fish, ground chicken, beef, and vegetables. They can be cooked by boiling, steaming, frying or baking.
On New Year’s Eve, it is a tradition to eat dumplings with cabbage and radish, implying that one’s skin will become fair and one’s mood will become gentle. When making dumplings there should be a good number of pleats. If you make the junction too flat, it is thought to purport poverty.
Some put a white thread inside a dumpling, and the one who eats that dumpling is supposed to possess longevity. Sometimes a copper coin is put in a dumpling, and the one who eats it is supposed to become wealthy.
Dumplings should be arranged in lines instead of circles, because circles of dumplings are supposed to mean one’s life will go round in circles, never going anywhere.
How to make dumpling wrappers (or buy ready-made!)
Total time: 1 hr 30 mins
Makes 35 – 40 wrappers
This recipe makes about 35 to 40 dumpling wrappers that are about 12 to 13 grams each and 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter, which is a good medium-size. If you want to make larger dumplings, aim for wrappers that are about 14 or 16 grams, and they’ll roll out to about 3 3/4 inches in diameter. This recipe will make about 30 or so large wrappers. Feel free to adjust the size of each dumpling wrapper to your liking.
- 320g all-purpose flour
- 175g very warm water
- Pour all the flour and water into a mixing bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir everything together. Mix until all the water is absorbed and shaggy pieces of dough start to form.
- Then, use your hands to gather the dough together. As you do this, dig into the dough with your fingers in a claw-like motion. This helps to distribute the moisture inside the dough. (See note 2 for mixer instructions.)
- Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it on a surface for 2 to 3 minutes. The dough is slightly tacky, but not sticky. You shouldn’t need to flour the surface. If you find the dough is sticky, dust the surface with a little bit of flour and knead the flour into the dough.
- After several minutes of kneading, you should get a pretty smooth ball of dough. There may be some crags and dimples on the surface, but that’s okay. Place the dough into the bowl again and cover the bowl with a damp towel.
- Let the dough rest. If you are pressed for time, you can start rolling out the dough into wrappers after about 20 minutes. However, it’s best to let it rest at least 45 minutes. The dough feels more supple when it rests longer, making the wrappers easier to roll out. (see note 3)
- Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it a few times. Make a hole in the centre of the dough with your finger. Then use your fingers to stretch out that hole in the centre. Keep stretching out the dough and rotating it until you get a large ring.
- Cut the dough with a sharp knife. You should now have a thick dough rope. Keep rolling out the rope until it is about 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
- Now, cut out 5 small pieces of dough, each weighing about 12 to 13 grams. This is about 1 tablespoon of dough. If you want larger dumplings, each piece of dough should be 14 to 16 grams. The dough dries out easily so put the dough rope back into the bowl and cover it again.
- Take each piece of dough and roll it into a ball. Using the fleshy part of your palm, flatten each ball of dough into a disc, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Lightly dust each disc with flour.
- Take your rolling pin into your right hand and roll it over the entire surface of the disc and then roll it off. Your rolling pin never leaves the surface. Use your left and to rotate the disc 90 degrees and roll over the entire surface again. Repeat this two more times until you have rolled out the dough for two revolutions. If the disc is sticking to the rolling pin, brush it with some flour.
- The third time around the wrapper, you will only roll over the wrapper halfway before rotating it. This ensures that the centre is slightly thicker than the edges so the filling is doesn’t break through the wrapper easily. Do this for 1 to 2 revolutions around the wrapper.
- For the final revolution, you will only roll over the edges of the dough (about 1/2 inch into the wrapper). The wrapper should be somewhere between 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 inches in diameter. If you are making larger wrappers, the wrapper should roll out to about 3 3/4 inches in diameter.
- Brush some flour over the wrapper, set it aside, and cover it with a dry towel. Roll out the 4 remaining discs. Once you’ve rolled out 5 wrappers completely, use it to make dumplings.
- The dumpling wrappers form a crust easily. If you are working by yourself, you don’t want to roll out more than 5 dumpling wrappers at a time.
- If you want to store the wrappers for later use, roll out the dough. Brush potato starch (or tapioca starch) over all the wrappers before stacking them up. Tightly wrap the stack of wrappers with plastic wrap. Then, transfer them into an air-tight container. You can refrigerate these for up to 2 days or freeze them for up to a month, as long as no freezer burn develops around the wrappers.
- You can microwave the water on high for 45 seconds and check to see if it has reached the appropriate temperature. If the water is not hot enough, continue microwaving at 10-second intervals. Alternatively, you can mix hot boiling water with cold water.
- Mixer directions: Add the flour and water to the bowl and mix on low speed with the dough hook attachment. Once all the water has been incorporated into the flour, increase the speed to medium-low. Continue mixing for about 2 minutes, until a dough forms and all the loose flour has been gathered into the dough. Turn off the stand mixer and transfer the dough onto a surface. Knead it by hand a few times, then shape into a ball. Place the dough ball back into the mixing bowl and cover it with a damp towel or a silicone lid.
- In my original recipe, I rested the dough twice. For the first rise, you let the dough rest for 15 minutes. Then, you knead the dough several times before letting it rest again for at least 30 minutes. I have simplified the recipe so that you only need to rest the dough once. I found that the dough made with a single resting period to be similar to the double resting method.
- If you don’t have time to roll out all the dough into wrappers, you can refrigerate the dough overnight. However, it is very difficult to roll out the dough when it is still cold. Let the dough sit on the counter and reach room temperature before rolling it out.
Turkey and Kale Boiled Dumplings
Prep time: 45-60 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
- 4 leaves of kale, minced (in a food processor if possible)
- 2 spring onions, minced
- 2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 lb. minced turkey
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1 package prepared round dumpling wrappers or make your own using recipe above.
For the dipping sauce
- 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
- ½ tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon finely minced spring onions and 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (optional)
- Handful coriander
- Mix all ingredients except wrappers in a bowl until well combined.
- To make each dumping, place a wrapper on a clean surface or your palm, and heap a teaspoon or two of filling into the centre, depending on the size of the wrapper. Be careful not to overfill or it will be hard to get a good seal.
- Moisten the inside edges of the filled wrappers using your finger or a chopstick dipped into a little water and fold over, forming crescents.
- Press the edges together, making pleats to seal. Make sure they are well sealed, or the filling will fall out when you cook them.
- Bring a large pot of water to boil and carefully drop in dumplings. There should be a lot of room for them to move around. When water resumes boiling, add 1 cup of water to cool.
- When the water resumes boiling again, add another cup of cold water to cool. Repeat this process one more time.
- When the water boils for the third time, the dumplings will be done. They should be floating.
- Drain and serve immediately with your dipping sauce.
For dipping sauce:
- Combine soy sauce plus any combination of sesame oil, chilli sauce or oil, vinegar, minced scallions, minced coriander and minced ginger, to taste.
Chicken Potsticker Dumpling Filling
Prep time: 1 hr 20 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Makes 32 – 40 dumplings
These dumplings are nice and crispy on the bottom, and the filling is made with easy-to-find ingredients. If you are making these dumplings ahead, freeze the pleated potstickers. After several hours, the dumplings should harden. Transfer the frozen dumplings to a freezer bag. DO NOT store pleated, uncooked potstickers in the refrigerator. The moisture from the filling will seep into the dumpling skin, and your dumplings will be a soggy mess.
- 425g ground chicken
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying dumplings
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- Half a finely chopped cabbage
- 6 chopped spring onions
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 32 to 40 round and thick dumpling wrappers
- water for cooking the dumplings
- 5 tablespoons soy sauce
- 5 tablespoons cup rice vinegar
- 1 spring onion sliced
- 1 clove garlic, sliced
- 1/2-inch piece of ginger, sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
Prepare the Filling
- Add the ground chicken to a bowl and set it aside.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 15 to 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the chopped cabbage and cook for 1 to 2 minutes minute. Add the spring onions and salt and cook for another minute, until the greens star to wilt. Turn off the heat and let everything cool in the pan for about 5 to 8 minutes.
- Transfer the vegetables and spices to the bowl with the chicken. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil and stir to combine all the ingredients.
Red Curry Tofu Potsticker Dumpling Filling
Prep time: 1 hr
Cook time: 25 mins
Makes 40 – 50 dumplings
These red curry tofu dumplings are great for parties or dinner! Serve them with sweet chilli sauce.
- 14-ounce package of firm tofu
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, plus more for frying dumplings
- 6 chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 finely sliced cabbage
- 2 spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons red curry paste
- 2 tablespoons coconut milk
- 40 to 50 round dumpling wrappers
- water for wrapping dumplings, plus more for cooking
- Press the tofu: Drain the tofu from the package and wrap the tofu with a layer of paper towels. Place the block of tofu on top of a plate and place a small stack of plates over the tofu. Let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Unwrap the tofu block and divide it into 2 pieces. Crumble the tofu by squeezing it in your hands. Set the crumbled tofu aside.
- Cook the filling: Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and cook a minute more. Next, add the cabbage and spring onions and cook until the cabbage starts to wilt about 2 minutes. Transfer the tofu to the pan. Add the salt, red curry paste, and coconut milk to the pan, and stir to coat the tofu and vegetables. Turn off the heat. Transfer the filling to a large bowl and let it cool for 15 minutes.
Vegetable Potsticker Dumpling Filling
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 35 mins
Makes 35 dumplings
I highly recommend eating these dumplings with a dipping sauce. These dumplings are great with my sweet chilli sauce, soy and vinegar dipping sauce, or chilli oil.
- About 35 potsticker wrappers
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying dumplings
- 6 chopped shallots
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- ½ thinly sliced savoy cabbage (see note 1)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 carrots, grated
- 6 sliced spring onions
- 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder (optional)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
Prepare Vegetable Filling
- Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil in a wok or large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for about 1 minute. Next, add the ginger and garlic and stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the cabbage and salt and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Next, add the carrots and cook for a minute.
- Turn off the heat. Mix in the garlic chives, five-spice powder, and sesame oil, if using.
- Transfer the filling to a large bowl to cool for at least 20 minutes.
How to make potstickers
NEXT STAGE….. Prepare the Dumpling-Making Station
- Fill a small bowl with water for wrapping the dumplings. Grab a baking sheet for the finished dumplings and a towel to cover the dumplings to prevent them from drying out. Get a spoon for scooping the dumpling filling.
- NEXT STAGE … Make the Dumplings
- Dip the dumpling wrapper into the bowl of water. Rotate the wrapper so that 1/2 or 2/3 of the wrapper is wet, creating a wet border about 1/4 to 1/2-inch wide. Place the wrapper on your left hand, the wet side facing away from you. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling into the centre of the wrapper (you may use more or less depending on the size of your dumpling wrapper).
- Pinch together the wrapper on the right. Using your index fingers, create a pleat. Seal the pleat towards the right. Continue creating and sealing the pleats to the right until you reach the end of the dumpling.
- If you want the dumpling pleats to go in two directions, towards the centre, start folding the dumpling together like a taco. Pinch the wrapper together in the centre (the left and right sides of the dumpling are not sealed. For the pleats to the right of this centre pinch, you want to create pleats with your index fingers and seal them facing the left. For the pleats to the left of the centre pinch, create and seal the pleats facing the right.
- Continue pleating dumplings until you are out of filling or dumpling skins. If you notice that the dumplings are starting to dry out, cover them with a dry towel.
NEXT STAGE… Cook the Dumplings
- Heat a large nonstick pan with 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat… Arrange the dumplings over the pan. Cook about 15 to 17 dumplings at a time. Pan-fry the dumplings for 2 to 3 minutes, until the bottoms are golden.
- Next, hold the pan lid with one hand and pour about 1/4 cup of water into the pan with your other hand. You want just enough to cover the bottom of the pan. When the water comes in contact with the hot oil, there will be a lot of splattering, so use the lid of the pan as a shield. Cover the pan, reduce the heat slightly to medium, and cook for 6 to 7 minutes.
- Uncover the pan and let the dumplings cook for another minute or two until the water is evaporated. Transfer the cooked dumplings to a plate.
- Repeat this entire cooking process if you want to cook the remaining dumplings. If you want to cook the dumplings later, freeze them.
Serve the Dumplings
- Mix all the dipping sauce ingredients together. Prepare the sauce 30 minutes before serving. This allows the sauce to fully absorb the herbs and spices in it.
- Serve the potstickers with the dipping sauce.