well its Chinese New Year’s eve today and all over the world there will be many people preparing lavish feasts of extravagant foods that are for special occasions, rich in flavour and that symbolise good luck and good fortune hopefully for the year to come.
tomorrow marks the start of the year of the rooster and this evening families will be together eating, drinking, chatting, exchanging gifts and money, setting off fireworks and watching the new years gala show on tv whilst continually eating snacking and enjoying the biggest meal of the year.
People will eat fish (Yu) as the pronunciation is similar to the pronunciation for the word prosperity, people will eat lots of round shaped food as they look like coins, and people will also eat rice cakes (nian gao) as the word nian is the same pronunciation as the word year.
Dumplings are always eaten at new year, particularly in northern China as the shape of the dumpling reminds people of traditional coin purses. Kitchens all over North China will be boiling steaming and frying plate after plate of dumplings filled with meat, seafood and vegetables to share with people popping in to wish each other a happy new year.
Last Wednesday was Burn’s night – a festival in Scotland and so in our house we decided to experiment and incorporate Scottish and Chinese cultures. We made haggis dumplings and I have to say they were delicious and they will most definitely be getting made more often in our house.
Since we were coming home from work and didn’t have much time to cook we bought the dumpling wrappers and the haggis so that we could assemble and cook and then eat. We added some grated carrot so that we could have one of our 5 a day and to add some texture and flavour. We got wrappers from the Chinese supermarket in Bristol and we bought Simon Howie Haggis in a bag I was hungry and impatient so the fact that we were able to do this was a bonus. Wrapping dumplings is a skill that takes time to perfect and I did need help with this. We also opted for frying the dumplings rather than steaming or boiling as this gives the dumplings a crispy outside skin that is just tasty.
If you are keen to make your own dumplings and want the easy option first of all then give this a go.
Dumpling wrappers they are ready rolled and quite cheap from asian supermarkets
2 carrots either grated or finely chopped.
some water to dip fingers in to stick the wrappers closed.
groundnut oil for frying the dumplings
sesame seeds if you want to add some additional flavour
- Think of a production line in a factory for your dumpling making as it’s a process that’s quite repetitive and therapeutic.
- in a large bowl empty out the haggis and add the chopped or grated carrot and mix the ingredients together. If you are not a fan of carrot feel free to add any other vegetables that are finely grated or chopped. you are welcome to add any herbs or spices here but I didn’t as the haggis has a strong enough taste to it. Consider cumin, garlic, ginger, chilli, 5 spice.
- Prepare a large oven tray, plate, chopping board so that you can lay out the completed dumplings one by one so that they don’t stick together.
- Prepare a small bowl of water so that you can dip your fingers in the water and use this to stick the dumplings together.
- Place a dumpling wrapper in your less active hand and take a small spoonful of the filling and place it on the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over and wet your fingers to stick the edges of the wrapper together. press the edges rightly together so that the contents dont escape.
- Repeat this over and over until the wrappers and filling are completely used up.
- Now you are ready to begin cooking the dumplings. we fried them to make guotie.
- heat a flat bottom frying pan (make sure its a pan with a lid) over a full heat and add some water. Let the water come to the boil and add some oil and mix it through the water. Sprinkle some sesame seeds if you want these to form a crispy base on the dumplings.
- Lay your dumplings in rows in the pan and put the lid on turning the heat down to a medium heat. The water will allow the dumplings to steam cook and soften before developing a crispy base.
- Watch the pan as the dumplings cook and you will see the steam escape the pan. You are watching for the steam to diminish. This should show that the dumplings are close to being cooked.
- Take the lid off and check the dumplings to see that the base is beginning to crisp up. Feel free to alter the heat if you feel it’s too high.
- Once the base is cooked dark and crisp enough to your liking remove this batch of dumplings to a plate to cool.
- Clean the pan and start again until all dumplings are cooked.
- If you don’t want to cook all dumplings you can lay them out on a tray and cover them with foil and then gently place them flat in the freezer.
- Serve the dumplings with a variety of dipping sauces from soy sauce and Chinese vinegar, to sriraccha, lao gan ma Chinese chilli sauce, peanut butter and oil to make a satay style dipping sauce.
- And Enjoy.
You can also experiment with the filings from pork to beef to vegetables and tofu or a mix of all.