Chinese New Year: Jiaozi

If you eat only one food for Chinese New Year, make it jiaozi (gee-owl'-zee). It will bring you luck all year long. For the tea, this is another item you might want to buy from your favorite Chinese restaurant. I wanted to include the recipe though for the adventurous.

6 cups Chinese (Napa) cabbage, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground pork
2 cups garlic chives, finely chopped
2 ½ tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 tablespoon cornstarch

50 round wheat dumpling wrappers
Red rice vinegar

To make the filling, put the cabbage and salt in a bowl and toss lightly to combine. Allow to stand for 30 minutes. Squeeze all the water from the cabbage and put the cabbage in a large bowl. Add the pork, garlic chives, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, ginger and cornstarch. Stir until combined and drain off any excess liquid.

Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of each wrapper. Spread a little water along the edge of the wrapper and fold the wrapper over to make a half moon shape. Use your thumb and index finger to form small pleats along the sealed edge. With the other hand, press the 2 opposite edges together to seal. Place the dumplings on a baking sheet that has been lightly dusted with cornstarch. Do not allow the dumplings to sit for too long or they will go soggy.

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, stirring immediately to prevent them from sticking together, and return to a boil. For the traditional method of cooking dumplings, add 1 cup cold water and continue cooking over high heat until the water boils. Add another 3 cups cold water and cook until the water boils again. Alternatively, cook the dumplings in the boiling water for 8-9 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and drain the dumplings. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.

The dumplings can also be fried. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan, add a single layer of dumplings and cook for 2 minutes, shaking the pan to make sure they don’t stick. Add 1/3 cup water, cover and steam for 2 minutes, then uncover and cook until the water has evaporated. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.

Serve with red rice vinegar.