Every year when we celebrate Chinese New Year, I vow to learn to make the famous northern Chinese dumplings that are often made on the eve of this Spring Festival. Families gather together as a team to share in the work, and then enjoy the delicious dumplings as part of the celebration. My son is adopted from China, and one of the many ways we try to incorporate his birth culture is through celebrations and food.
The history and symbolism of Chinese dumplings is fascinating. In an agricultural society like China, festivals such as Chinese New Year helped to brighten up the hardships that farmers faced. Faced with drought, extreme weather, and other problems affecting their crops, Chinese farmers wished for prosperity. Chinese New Year was a time to hope that the new year would bring luck and success, and there are many symbols and foods associated with this idea.
The shape of the Chinese dumplings is similar to the ancient gold ingot, used as currency until the 20th century:
Ingredients for Chinese Dumplings
Chinese Dumplings Wrappers:
- 1-1/4 lb bread flour, sifted.
- 12 fl oz boiling water
Chinese Dumplings Filling:
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1 head of napa cabbage
- 3 green onions, chopped completely
- 1T grated ginger
- 1T rice wine
- 2 T sesame oil
- 1T Kikkoman soy sauce
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 T cornstarch
- 1/4 c chicken stock
Chinese Dumplings Dipping Sauce:
- 1/2 cup Kikkoman soy sauce
- 2T brown sugar
- 2T rice wine
- 2T rice vinegar
- 1T grated ginger
* Kikkoman soy sauce is traditionally brewed, so it develops its characteristic rich flavor, appetizing aroma and distinctive reddish-brown color. We used original, but you could also use Kikkoman’s low sodium soy sauce.
Boil the 12 oz of water. Mix in 1.25lb bread flour (we used about 4 cups, adding a little when it was sticky). It’s kind-of crumbly at first, and then you can knead it into a ball. It should not be sticky- add flour until it forms a nice soft and elastic consistency. Place in a bowl with a damp towel covering it for an hour.
Blanch the cabbage leaves, and then chop them. Mix in all of the ingredients from the filling. We used our hands to mix everything together:). You can add more corn starch, or less broth to adjust the amount of liquid. You don’t want it too liquidy because the filling will seep out of the dumplings when you boil them!
While the dough is resting, mix together all of the ingredients to making the dipping sauce for the Chinese dumplings. This is one of our favorite sauces! It is delicious to dip, but I also use it to marinate chicken.
Now comes the fun part! Assembling the Chinese dumplings!!! It is much more fun with a team of helpers, so gather your kids and friends.
Divide the dough into quarters. Ask the kids to roll each portion into a “snake” approximately 1” in diameter. Then, they can cut the snake into pieces (about 1/2- 1 inch) and roll them out into a circle. This doesn’t have to be perfect, though it’s easier to form the dumplings when they are round:).
Take each disk of dough, and place about a teaspoon of the filling in the middle. Use water to close up the edges so the Chinese dumplings look like half moons. Ours were folded like empanadas:), but there are many beautiful ways to fold Chinese dumplings!
Gently place them in boiling water, and leave for 5-7 minutes (they will be floating). For another taste, with the same dumplings, fry them in a big of oil to serve them as potstickers. Either way, serve them with the delicious Chinese dumplings dipping sauce we made! Easy and delicious!
What’s your favorite food to celebrate Chinese New Year? Check out all of our Chinese New Year activities for kids!
Available at the Kid World Citizen Teachers Pay Teachers Store, these units are an incredible collection of Common Core aligned reading, writing, math, and critical thinking activities, as well as craftivities and coloring sheets. Kids have fun doing word problems, scrambles, graphing, a maze- and they learn about Chinese culture. Go now! >