TEACH ENGLISH IN CHINA AND LEARN HOW TO MAKE CHINESE DUMPLINGS
We at TeachDiscoverChina want to make the experience to teach English in China for all our English teachers as exciting as possible. Hence we run, besides our many other benefits and generous salary package, a social program to introduce English teachers to life in China. The theme this time: How to make Chinese dumplings!
And the social event of the year has just wrapped guys, only joking, well TeachDiscoverChina’s social event of autumn has just wrapped. Also di,d you see what I did there? Probably a bit too early for a pun hey! At least it leads me on very nicely to say our TDC ‘Teach in China, Make Dumplings’ social gathering was a big success, our incredible TEFL teachers made and wrapped some delicious dumplings (now you see it!) and we feasted into the glorious Chengdu night. We were delighted to see some of our wonderful teachers step away from the ESL classroom, have a break, and join us for some fun, food and Chinese culture. We want to share some highlights of the occasion with you and also talk a bit about these foods called dumplings.
What are Chinese Dumplings?
Dumplings called Jiaozi (饺子) in Mandarin Chinese, are a famous Northern Chinese food, they are a variety of different fillings, meats, vegetables and seasoning wrapped in dough then boiled. Jiaozi are a major part of Chinese cuisine and are eaten all over China, you will definitely eat some whilst you’re teaching here. So let’s look into the legend behind this quintessential Chinese food.
The History of the Chinese Dumpling
It all goes back more than 1800 years to the Eastern Han Dynasty with a wise man named Zhang Zhongjing aka the “Medicine Saint”, who would become one of the most famous practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). One ferociously cold winter when Zhang was returning to his hometown he couldn’t escape the notice that disease had spread and become an epidemic, especially amongst the poor, symptoms included painfully frostbitten ears. Very upset Zhang decided to combat this. He collected and shredded together mutton meat, chili peppers, and herbs into fillings and used dough to wrap them strangely enough into a kind of ear shape (I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that was surely a coincidence or not). He then boiled them in water before giving it to the poor to eat. Miraculously after a few days, these dumplings had cured the frostbite and quelled the epidemic. The materials that Zhang used in the wrap are scientifically proven to help warm the body and improve the blood flow, thawing the frostbitten ears. They were also extremely delicious too. Since then they spread throughout the vast country with even more flavors and different fillings and are still an iconic fixture in Chinese cuisine today. (*China Daily)
When to eat dumplings
Dumplings are so delicious that they are actually eaten all year round but traditionally you are meant to eat dumplings with your family during the Chinese New Year Spring Festival, especially Chuxi – New Year’s Eve. Dumplings have come to symbolize happiness and wealth, as their shape also closely resembles ingots, China’s old currency. Superstition says the more dumplings you eat during Chuxi, the more success you will have in the coming year. So you know what the advice is here.
How to make dumplings?
Teaching English in China and want to test your culinary skills and cook some Chinese food, here is our layman’s guide to making dumplings courtesy of advice from Travel China Guide
The Gordan Ramsay Way (f**k…)
*Amounts listed below are for servings for 2 to 3 people. You can invite some Chinese friends round.
- Gather all your ingredients and materials.
For the dumplings – you will need: 400g of flour, 200g – 300g of celery, and depending on your preference, I’m a meat kind of guy so 300g-350g of pork, but you can also have beef, mutton, chicken and shrimp. If you’re a vegetarian or if you just prefer, you can put mushrooms, cabbage, leek, eggs, sweetcorn, and even fruits inside.
For seasoning – get some green onion, five spices powder, salt, vinegar, soy sauce, cooking wine, sesame oil. The amount you use is dependent on your taste.
- The Dough: Pour 400g flours into a basin, repeatedly add water and stir until the flour becomes small pieces. Then pour more water and gather all the flour and knead into a dough. Use preservative film to cover it for roughly between 20-30 minutes. After, you will need to knead the dough again until even smoother and cover again so you can use it later.
- The Filling: Gather all your filling material, chopped celery, ginger, green onion, ground pork. Smash them together and ground them down even further and add five spices powder (if you have a Sichuanese kind of taste buds), sesame oil and stir them all.
- The Wrapper: Retrieve the dough you prepared before and cut a small section from it. Rub it into a long stick then cut into small balls of dough. Use a rolling pin and flatten the dough balls until they become flat round layers.
- The Dumplings: Place a flat round layer of dough in the palm of your hand, put spoonfuls of the filling in the middle of the wrapper. Fold and pinch the edges tightly together so it looks like an ear or moon shape. Then make some more.
- The Cooking: Boil water in a pan/wok then place the dumplings in. Stir them around so they don’t stick. Put the lid over the pan to make sure the dumplings are properly cooked, when it boils again, pour more water in, do this about 4 times.
- The Sauce: Get a small dish and mix together soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and red chili oil and there you go!
- Eat! Dip your dumplings into the sauce and see how good it tastes!
The Other Way
If you’re like me and don’t possess any culinary skills as of yet (and I mentioned ‘as of yet’ because give me time and don’t count me out just yet), you can go to any supermarket in China and buy a frozen pack of dumplings, make sure you buy some nice seasoning sauce too. Then you can go home after teaching and just boil the dumplings until ready. Then voila, get your sauce and chopsticks ready and start eating. Yum! Yum!
So that’s it for now, we hope you enjoyed the highlights from our TDC ‘Teach in China, Make Dumplings’ social event, learned about the history of this very special food, and also hope you will get your chef hat on and have a go at making some dumplings. Don’t forget to send us some pictures if you do, we’d love to see your culinary skills. Send it to our email below for a chance to feature on our social media.
Last but not least a massive thank you to our wonderful teachers for coming to have some fun and, including those that could not attend, for their great work. If you’d like to have a great time and teach English in China, please get in touch, you know where to find us – at firstname.lastname@example.org and of course here on our website 🙂 You can talk directly to me – Adam at TDC team
Interested in teaching English in China and learn first hand about how to make and eat authentic Chinese dumplings: Get in touch!
Read all our TEFL China blog posts here