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The Confusion of Dumplings

Many of you have asked me what is the most popular food in Chinese New Year celebrations?

Well, China is so large and diverse, it is hard to point to just one dish, but in large parts of Northern China, almost every family would have dumplings on their New Years eve dinner table.

Then you ask me what are they?

I think I will start with giving you the proper name of these delicate wheat flour pastry parcels with meat and vegetable fillings. They are called "Jiao Zi" in mandarin Chinese. Dumplings is just an English name given to them for the convenience of English speakers, but I personally think it is confusing, given dumplings in western cuisine are dough balls with no filling. Dumplings don't portray the bursting flavours and the delicate texture of this famous Chinese dish.

To make "Jiao Zi", you first make a soft dough with wheat flour, cut it into small pieces, then roll them out into very thin pastry. Then fill with your favourite filling and seal up into small half moon parcels. My favourite filling is my mum's pork, eggs and Chinese chive filling. After these are boiled or fried, then you can enjoy them dipped in soy sauce, vinegar and chilli sauce. Yum!

The whole process is a collective family effort. It is an opportunity for the whole family to work together and spend time around the kitchen table, talking and laughing. This is one of my most treasured childhood memories.

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