Chinese dumpling, also called Jiaozi, typically consist of a ground meat and/or vegetable filling wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which is one of the most important and traditional dishes in China.
In northern China, making dumplings is an important activity for most families on New Year's Eve. Families start eating the dumplings after midnight. And, just as nineteenth-century English cooks hid silver pence inside each batch of Christmas pudding, one lucky family member may bite into something hard and discover a gold or silver coin inside their dumpling.
China has been perfecting the art of dumpling making since the Sung dynasty. Chinese dumplings may be round or crescent-shaped, boiled or pan-fried. The filling may be sweet or savory; vegetarian or filled with meat and vegetables.
Common dumpling meat fillings include pork, mutton, beef, chicken, fish, and shrimp which are usually mixed with chopped vegetables. Popular vegetable fillings include cabbage, scallion (spring onions), leek, and garlic chives. Dumplings are eaten with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce that may include vinegar, garlic, ginger, rice wine, hot sauce, and sesame oil.
Here are some brief descriptions of different types of Chinese dumplings:
These crescent shaped dumplings with pleated edges are normally filled with meat or vegetables, although you'll occasionally find recipes calling for more unusual ingredients such as shrimp and even winter melon. The filling ingredients are enclosed in flour and water dough that is thicker than a wonton wrapper. The dumplings are frequently boiled, although they may also be pan-fried.
Potsticker dumplings are pan-fried on the bottom and then steamed. It's traditional to flip them over before serving so that the browned, pan-fried side is on top.
Siu Mai(Shao Mai)
Mild tasting steamed dumplings recognizable by their cup or basket shape, with the filling sticking out at the top. One food writer compared eating Siu Mai to biting into a soufflé, because the dumpling is so soft and puffy. Traditionally they are filled with pork, although shrimp or prawns are also used. Siu Mai is normally made with round skins: use round wrappers or square wonton wrappers cut into circles.
Shanghai Steamed Buns
Not buns at all, but meat or seafood-filled dumplings famous for being very juicy and flavorful. Shanghai Steamed buns are recognizable for their unique design, as the filled wrapper is gathering up into several folds prior to steaming.