dumplings


dumplings
(jiaozi)
Jiaozi is a popular dumpling-like food in north China, its stuffing made of vegetables, meat or both. The favourite stuffing is Chinese cabbage and ground pork, seasoned with green onion, ginger, soy and sesame oil. Use of vegetables is only limited by imagination, but the choice of meat confines to pork, mutton and beef, in that order.
Jiaozi was first recorded by the North Zhou Confucian Yan Zhitui 1,400 years ago. He mentioned a popular crescent-shaped wheaten food called huntun, which according to historians had existed 600 years earlier. Interestingly, huntun as the antecedent of jiaozi is still coexisting today with its descendent. Huntun, known as ‘wonton’ in North America, is boiled and served with the soup, while jiaozi can be boiled, steamed, and fried and served with a dab of vinegar sauce.
Jiaozi is significant to the Chinese New Year’s Eve in north China as niangao, a cake of sweet rice to the south, both believed to bring good luck. With limited syllables in their language, the Chinese play heavily into homophones. Since jiaozi, sounds the same as ‘the juncture of the old and new years’, having it then forebodes a happy beginning.
Like many other jiachangcai, jiaozi also becomes commercialized, available as frozen food in supermarkets, delivered home by food trucks and served in restaurants, the most famous of which is Defachang in Xi’an. It created a dinner of a hundred varieties of jiaozi in 1984. Its popularity is second only to that of the Terracotta Warriors.
YUAN HAIWANG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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