Thursday, January 10, 2008

Chinese Food: Jiaozi

Jiaozi (Chinese transliteration) or gyōza (Japanese transliteration) and also known as mandu (Korean transliteration), is a Chinese dumpling, widely popular in China, Japan, Korea, as well as outside of East Asia particularly in the United States.

Jiaozi typically consist of a ground meat and/or vegetable filling wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which is then sealed by pressing the edges together or by crimping. Jiaozi should not be confused with wonton: jiaozi have a thicker skin and a flatter, more oblate, double-saucer like shape (similar in shape to ravioli), and is usually eaten with a soy-vinegar dipping sauce (and/or hot chili sauce); while a wonton has a thinner skin, is sphere-shaped, and is usually served in broth.



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), and Chinese chives. Dumplings are eaten with a soy sauce-based dipping sauce that may include vinegar, garlic, ginger, rice wine, hot sauce, and sesame oil.

Dumplings are one of the major foods eaten during the Chinese New Year, and year round in the northern provinces. Traditionally, families get together to make jiaozi for the Chinese New Year. In rural areas, the choicest livestock is slaughtered, the meat ground and wrapped into dumplings, and frozen outside with the help of the freezing weather. Then they are boiled and served for the Chinese New Year feast. Dumplings with sweet, rather than savoury fillings are also popular as a Chinese New Year treat.



Jiaozi were so named because they were horn shaped. The Chinese for "horn" is jiǎo (角), and jiaozi was originally written with the Chinese character for "horn", but later it was replaced by a specific character 饺, which has the food radical on the left and the phonetic component jiāo on the right.

According to folk tales, jiaozi were invented by Zhang Zhongjing, one of the greatest practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine in history. They were originally called "娇耳"(Pinyin: jiao1 er3) because they were used to treat frostbitten ears.

How to make Jiaozi (video)
video

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