Dumplings – A Taste of Chinese New Year2016-10-19
Eating dumplings during Chinese New Year has been a popular and tasteful tradition that has prevailed all over China for hundreds of years. It is also a joyous time where all family members can get together and make their Spring Festival come alive over the love of food. The much-loved dumplings are prepared by wrapping minced meat and finely chopped vegetables into a piece of dough skin and are then usually boiled or steamed and served with a dipping sauce. They come in all varieties, shapes and sizes and their names differ depending on the region, for example they are called 'Jiaozi' in Northern China and 'Wonton' in Southern China. However, in spite of their different names, dumplings are always going to be the true taste of Chinese Traditional New Year - Spring Festival.
Legend has it that dumplings were first invented in the latter period of the Eastern Han Dynasty (AD 25-220) by Zhang Zhongjing (张仲景), one of ancient China’s most eminent physicians.
It was on the day of the Winter Solstice, the coldest day of the year, while travelling home that Zhang Zhongjing came across a large number of refugees suffering from deathly frost bite and hunger, so based on his experience in treating patients suffering from cold damage, he stewed mutton, pepper and other medicinal materials together in a large pot and wrapped them in dough shaped like ears and distributed them to the refugees.
The refugees ate them from Winter Solstice to New Year’s Eve and had their disease cured and then whenever winter came again the refugees and then their descendants made dumplings the Zhang Zhongjing way. Since that cold day, 1400 years ago, eating dumplings in winter has become a Chinese tradition and a staple for millions.
How to make dumplings
The first step of making dumplings is to prepare the fillings which usually consist of minced meat and finely chopped vegetables - the most popular ones being ground pork, ground beef, ground chicken, shrimp, and even fish, and in no order are often mixed with Chinese cabbage, garlic chives, spring onion and garlic chives with scrambled eggs.
Once the fillings are set it is time to make the dough skins, the most challenging part, but if this doesn’t tickle your taste buds then you can always buy the ready-made ones available in all supermarkets.
For those who like a challenge you need to begin by mixing two cups of flour with one cup of water. The mixture can neither be too wet nor too dry or the fillings will not set. After the water and flour are well mixed you then by hand roll the paste into a long strip and divide into many parts, then taking a rolling pin you roll each small part into one thin dough piece. As making dumplings is a family tradition taking it in turns to fill the perfectly formed dough skins makes it quicker and even more fun. Once the dumplings have been filled, you then gently knead them into shape and seal them tight gently placing them in boiling water. Once they rise up to the water’s surface then it’s time to get them out and have the big Spring Festival feast all the family has been waiting for.
Where to Savour Dumplings in Town
Lei Lei Dumplings蕾蕾水饺
An old favourite with the locals this place has literally been here forever. The restaurant provides a large selection of delicious dumplings ranging from around RMB7 for your regular beef and carrot to an unbelievable RMB28 for truly tasty crab meat. Whatever filling you choose you can bet the dumplings taste good.
Add: No. 208, Gudun Road (古墩路208号)
Hours: 7am - 3am
Ding Tai Fung 鼎泰丰
Ding Tai Fung, renowned for its Xiaolongbao, a type of steamed bun is also highly regarded for its number of other fulfilling dumplings and mouth-watering dishes. With a swift service, an elegant environment – sampling any number of Ding Tai Fung’s delightful dumplings has never been so satisfying.
Add: 3/F, MIXC Mall, No. 701 Fuchun Road (富春路701号万象城3楼)
Hours: 10am - 9pm