Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings) – Revisit

Ever since my post of grandmother’s jiaozi recipe 3 years ago, I’ve been meaning to do a revisit post with pictures. It’s been even longer since I’ve made wrappers from scratch, uh like over 15 years! So what crazy bug bit me in the butt to cross off 2 to-do’s this weekend? I don’t know but it’s still a little itchy. I made jiaozi earlier in the week with some store bought wrappers but stupid me only bought 1 package, which only used up half of the filling mixture.

So on Saturday, rather than drive to 99 Ranch or somewhere to get another pack, I thought to myself, “Self, don’t just sit there with your thumb up your —. Why don’t you do something productive and use up that extra filling?” So I pulled out one of my favorite Chinese cookbooks, Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook (2nd ed. 1987), for her wrapper recipe. I couldn’t remember the amount of ingredients for my grandmother’s recipe: flour + salt + water + elbow grease. Just lots of that last ingredient. So I decided to use Mrs. Chiang’s recipe, halved.

Recipe will make about 50 wrappers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour (I used unbleached all purpose), plus more for kneading and rolling
  • 2 pinches of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cups water

Directions:

In a medium bowl, add flour, salt and 1/2 cup of water. Mix everything together. The dough will clumpy and won’t be sticky. Continue to add about 1 tablespoon of water at a time, combining after each addition, until all the flour comes together. The dough should not be sticky. Turn dough out on a generously floured work surface. The recipe calls for 2 minutes of kneading until elastic but I remember my grandmother kneading longer than 2 minutes to get smooth and very elastic dough. After kneading for about 2 minutes, the dough was still very stiff and not very elastic. Then I remembered that my mom used to use her food processor to make her dough. Well, it probably would have been easier to go the “mom” route but too late now.

After 7-8 minutes of kneading, I thought the dough was elastic enough even though not as smooth as bread or pasta dough would be after kneading. I couldn’t remember what it should look like but I figured it was long enough (arms screaming with pain joy).

I divided the dough into 2 halves. Rolled one half into a long rope about 3/4 inches thick. Then I cut the rope into 1/2-inch sections. The book doesn’t talk about the next step so this is what grandmother taught me. Turn a section onto one of its cut side. Gently squeeze the section to make it round then smash it down with your palm. I should have taken pictures at this point but the camera was upstairs and my hands were all doughed up. Anyway, the point is to make little round disks to roll out.

Don’t worry about using too much flour on the work surface. It won’t hurt the dough. Use enough flour so the disks don’t stick to each other. Using a rolling pin, start to roll out each disk into a wrapper 3-inches in diameter. The best way to roll out the disk is to hold the top of the disk with one hand and roll half way up and down the bottom of the disk with the rolling pin with the other hand. Then rotate the disk about 1/4 turn and repeat. Keep doing this until the wrapper is about 3 inches in diameter. Reflour the work surface as needed to prevent sticking. The finished product should be soft, supple, elastic yet strong.

I rolled out about 6-7 wrappers and then fill them before rolling out more. I eye-ball the amount of filling but if I had to guess an amount, probably about a tablespoon of filling. The nice thing about homemade wrappers is that they are quite forgiving to overfilling due to the elasticity. Another good thing is that the wrapper doesn’t require water for it to stick to itself. Just squeeze the sides together. Put the filled jiaozi on heavily floured surface, in my case was a baking sheet. There is a downside to homemade wrappers over many store bought wrappers, other than the whole kneading and rolling thing. Homemade wrappers tend to get soggy faster and stickier once filled. So be liberal with the flour. Or rest the jiaozi on wax paper.

I think rolling wrappers is like riding a bike. After my fifth one, I was breezing through them and for a minute, I felt like I was back in time and I could hear my grandmother and mom in my head telling me how to make the perfect wrappers. Ahhhh, good times! Although I was never as fast as them at pleating the suckers. The funny thing was that even though my arm was getting a little tired towards the end, I found the process to be kind of nice, almost calming. Certainly a lot different experience than the last time I made it. Well, I was much younger and I’m a better cook now. Okay, at least more experienced.

It took about 2 hours from the start of making the dough to filling the last wrapper (total of 40 jiaozi),with a couple of small breaks in between tending to the dogs. Not too bad since I spent extra time to make pretty pleats rather than doing it quick and dirty. Oh yeah, the filling ingredients this time were: ground pork (fatty kind!), napa cabbage, scallions, egg, garlic, broccoli spigarello, ground white pepper, soy sauce, salt and sesame oil. So here’s what they looked like. 

Here’s a shot of the back of these little scrumptious bundles.

Okay, wait, at least the filling I know for sure is scrumptious but I don’t know how good the wrappers turned out. Why not? Because I froze these to be eaten at a later time, that’s why. Go ahead, complain. All preparation and no “h”. But it means I have to do a follow-up post when I boil these up. Come to think of it, maybe I should add another to-do item, like make a video on how to roll out a jiaozi wrapper?

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend!

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10 Comments

Filed under Chinese, Pork, Recipes

10 responses to “Jiaozi (Chinese Dumplings) – Revisit

  1. WOw those look amazingly beautiful! I’ve been wanting to eventually do vids too. But oh, I forgot I need to start cooking again before that can happen… :P

    • CAB

      Aw, thanks Dennis! My dumplings usually don’t look that good but since Iwas making fresh wrappers and taking pictures, I thought I’d at least make them presentable.

      I’ve been thinking about vids for a while now but just never got up the patience to set it all up. But maybe I’ll try to make one with something simple and see how that turns out. Maybe… :-)

  2. Sandy

    The pleats look so pretty! I’ve been doing the quick & dirty method by folding the dumplings in half. I really should take the time to attempt some pleats.

    I’ve never tried homemade wrappers. And I had to google the broccoli spigarello – was that something you had to use up?

    • CAB

      Hi Sandy and thanks! I usually do the quick and dirty method, too. :) It’s so much easier to make pleats with homemade wrappers.

      The broccoli spigarello was something that I wanted to use up. I had bought some for fried rice but it was a very large bunch. I thought it would be nice to add a little something different to the filling. I sauteed with some oil and garlic first to get it softened (and cooled) before adding it to the filling. It didn’t add a whole lot of flavor but did add a nice green to it.

  3. Your dumplings look gorgeous! Each one looks so perfectly uniform with the pleats. Mine never look that perfect. I’ve pretty much decided to retire from dumpling making and just get frozen handmade ones from SGV. So much less work and still delicious.

    • CAB

      Thanks Kirbie! I thought yours looked really nice. I won’t go as far to say that I’ll be making my own wrappers from now on but it wasn’t as bad as I remembered. I’m too lazy to drive to SGV to get them. But if I did, I think I’d have to get a year’s supply of them, hehe.

  4. Faye

    Wow. Wow. Wow! Your dumplings are so plump and beautiful! I can’t believe it’s only 3 ingredients to make the wrappers?! And only 2 hrs from start to finish (including to fill them?!). Really really nice job! Do you prefer the boil/steam/pan fried method for your home made dumplings?

    • CAB

      Hi Faye! You are way too kind and thank you! I had a lot of practice growing up since I always helped. I love these boiled then pan fried as leftovers. I really like to get the wrapper nice and crunchy. I’ve never tried to steam them since it seems a bit more work than boiling.

  5. wow, that does look really good and so pretty! i’ve tried wrapping them before and it is not easy…but you gotta start somewhere right?!

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