Category Archives: Chinese New Year

How to Make Your Own Dumplings for Chinese New Year

Born and raised in Richmond, BC, Chef Nicole Gomes has been celebrating Chinese New Year ever since she can remember. The west coast city, just a stone’s throw from Vancouver, is known across North America for its dynamic Chinese food scene and famous night market brimming with all sorts of delicious eats.

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The Top Chef Canada alum has been calling Calgary home for over 16 years, where she runs a high-end catering company (Nicole Gourmet) and the uber-popular fried chicken eatery, Cluck ‘N’ Cleaver. But with strong family ties in Richmond, she always heads back west to celebrate the holiday with her family.

“Most of my memories about Chinese New Year just revolve around spending time with my family,” says Gomes, smiling. “Well, spending time with family and then eating and eating and eating. There’s always so much food!”

So when it comes to Chinese New Year cooking, Nicole Gomes is something of an expert. Here are some top tips she has picked up over the years, plus how to make perfect Chinese dumplings.

 

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The Perfect Dumplings for Chinese New Year

While Gomes says food has always been central to her upbringing, one of her most fond food memories is spending weekend afternoons learning to make dumplings (jiaozi) with her grandmother and younger sister.

“We would make dumplings all of the time with my grandma. Hundreds and hundreds of them,” says Gomes. “That is one of the best things about dumplings. You can make a huge batch, freeze them and eat them when you want.”

After years of making dough, rolling, filling and pinching, Gomes has become quite the dumpling expert, practically making them with her eyes closed. Though the filling can be flexible, Gomes’ favourite filling is a classic one made with ground pork and Shanghai bok choy.

If you’re celebrating the Lunar New Year at home this year, you should definitely have some dumplings on the table — so why not make some that are chef-approved?

Nicole Gomes’ Homemade Pork Dumplings

Prep and Cook Time: 1 hour
Makes: 30 dumplings

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Ingredients:

Pork and Bok Choy Filling:
2 heads Shanghai bok choy (halved, thinly sliced and blanched)
1 pound ground pork
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp light soy sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 tsp cane sugar
2 Tbsp Chinese rice cooking wine
1 Tbsp sesame oil
Canola oil (for testing filling)

Dumpling Dough:
2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup boiling water

Dipping Sauce:
1/3 cup black vinegar (available at Asian grocers)
2 Tbsp garlic chili paste
Crushed chili flakes (for garnish)

Tip: Always cook off a bit of your filling in a pan and taste it first before filling your dumplings. Add more seasoning if needed. You don’t want to fill a whole bunch of dumplings only to find out they don’t taste as good as they could!

dumpling-filling

Directions:

Pork and Bok Choy Filling :
Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir until combined.

Dumpling Dough:
1. Mix flour and water together in a medium bowl and knead until smooth.
2. Split dough into six equal logs, roll to 3/4-inch thickness (approximately) and cut into 5 pieces per log for a total of 30 dumplings.

filling-dumplings
3. Roll out into rounds and fill with approximately prepared pork and bok choy filling.

pinching-dumplings
4. To seal, lightly dab water around the edge of one half of the dumplings. Bring sides together and gently pinch along seam to seal.

Dipping Sauce:
Place black vinegar, garlic chili paste and chili flakes in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Cooking:
1. Pour 1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil in a large pan to evenly coat and turn to medium-high heat. Place dumplings into pan and cook until bottoms start to brown, about 2-3 minutes.

dumplings-browning
2. Next, pour in 1 1/2 cups water, cover with lid and let steam for 6-8 minutes or until water is absorbed.

dumplings-cooking
3. Remove lid to allow any remaining water to evaporate. Dumpling should be tender on top and golden brown on the bottom.
4. Transfer from pan to serving dish and let cool slightly before serving.

Tips for a Great Chinese New Year:

It’s a numbers game
The number eight is regarded as the luckiest number. That’s a good baseline to work with when you’re preparing dinner. Eight dishes can easily feed a big group of family or friends. On the other end, stay away from four in any shape or form (i.e. guests or dishes). Its pronunciation is the same as the word for death, so it’s considered very bad luck.

The longer the noodle you’re cooking with, the better
Noodles represent longevity in life. You will always see them on the table at Chinese New Year, but in a lot of different forms, like stir-fried or steamed with vegetables and soy-based sauces. Never cut the noodles — it is bad luck!

You don’t need to cook everything yourself
Popular dishes like suckling pig, barbecue pork and peking-style chicken or duck aren’t ideal for a home cook to make, especially if it’s their first time. Most Canadian cities have great Chinatown neighbourhoods with Chinese barbecue restaurants. Order these from a good quality spot and spend your time in the kitchen making delicious side dishes.

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Not every dish has to be hot
Many dishes in Chinese culture are served cold; a lot of people forget about that. Marinating soft tofu in a soy garlic sauce overnight in the fridge, for example, is really delicious and doesn’t take much prep at all.

Plan for some surf and turf
It isn’t a Chinese New Year dinner without lobster. Whole lobster is usually served because of its resemblance to a dragon (a creature that is synonymous with Chinese culture). It is usually paired with chicken. The presentation of a whole chicken represents family and prosperity.

What you should be drinking
Simple drinks are served along with Lunar New Year celebrations. Red and white wine to sip on throughout dinner, and finishing off with cognac when dessert comes around is perfect.

Always accept an invitation to someone’s New Year dinner, if possible
It is a real honour to be invited to someone’s Chinese New Year celebration, and one big plus is then you don’t have to worry about any of the cooking or the dishes afterwards.

Check out these 15 mouth-watering dumpling recipes for Chinese New Year.

 

1 Dish, 2 Ways: Pork & Shrimp Wontons

Whether you like your wontons slurped or crunched, one thing’s for certain; little pouches of savoury pork dumplings are always a deeply satisfying meal, no matter what time of year.

If you need a little push, make the Lunar New Year a culinary excuse for finally trying your hand at making homemade wontons. Thanks to handy store-bought wrappers, it’s easier than you think.

The trick is learning how to properly fold the wontons so that the filling doesn’t ooze out during the boiling or frying process. But truth be told, even if they don’t look like they’ve been assembled by a dumpling master, as long as they hold together, they’re going to taste absolutely delicious.

friedwontons

Serving Size: approximately 60 wontons
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Crispy Pork Wontons with Chili Oil Sauce

Ingredients:
12 store-bought wonton wrappers

For the Filling:
8 ounces ground pork
4 ounces raw shrimp, minced
3 Tablespoons chives, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon Chinese rice wine or sherry
¼ teaspoon sugar
3 dashes white pepper

For Frying:
1 cup canola oil

For the Chili Oil Sauce:
½ Tablespoon Chinese black vinegar
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
½ Tablespoon dried chili flakes
1 Tablespoon oil

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Directions:

  1. Combine the pork with the rest of the ingredients for the filling in a medium bowl. *Assemble the dumplings.
  2. Heat 2 to 3 inches of oil in a wok or stock pot to 350°F for deep-frying. Gently drop the pork dumplings into the oil and deep fry in batches.
  3. Deep-fry until they turn golden brown. Dish out with a slotted spoon, draining the excess oil by placing hot dumplings on a wire rack or dish lined with paper towels.

*How to wrap the dumplings:

  1. Place a piece of wonton on a flat surface about 1 Tablespoon of filling onto the wrapper, being careful not to overfill.
  2. Dip your finger in a bowl of warm water and circle around the filling, and fold over to form a triangle shape.
  3. Using both thumbs and index fingers, press and squeeze both sides of the dumplings towards the centre to form the folds. Seal the dumpling by dipping your index finger into a small bowl of water and circle around the outer edges of the wonton wrapper.
  4. Place them on a floured surface or baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth to prevent drying.

Pork Wonton Soup

Ingredients:
12 store-bought wonton wrappers

For the Filling:
8 ounces ground pork
4 ounces raw shrimp, minced
3 Tablespoons chives, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fish sauce
½ teaspoon sesame oil
½ teaspoon Chinese rice wine or sherry
¼ teaspoon sugar
3 dashes white pepper
2 cups, water (for boiling wontons)

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For the Soup:
6 cups homemade chicken stock or store-bought chicken broth
Green onions, to taste
Salt and white pepper, to taste
Wontons, soba noodles or noodles of choice

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Directions:

  1. Cook noodles, drain under cold water to stop cooking and set aside.
  2. In a medium pot, bring water to boil. Working in batches, gently lower dumplings into the water and let boil for 2-3 minutes. Remove from water and cover to prevent drying.
  3. Bring chicken broth to a boil and season with white pepper and salt to taste.
  4. Place dumplings in soup bowls, add hot broth and garnish with chopped green onion.

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BonnieMo Bonnie Mo is a Toronto-based editor and the face behind Food Network Canada’s 1 Dish, 2 Ways column. She’s also a contributing editor over at slice.ca. For more recipe ideas, visit bonniemo.ca, or catch her on Instagram @bonniemo

How to Throw a Dumpling Party

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Most of us don’t have days to spend in the kitchen exploring the nuances of Chinese cuisine let alone tackling the complex, traditional New Year’s dishes, some of which take days to soak, cure or braise. Even the most devout purchase their lo bak gao and nian gao at the Asian grocers and almost all would draw the most fearful blank when asked what ingredients were in them. Don’t worry, not many people actually know.

What a shame to let any of these hurdles refrain us from the only real reason to gather, to celebrate of course. So, for us with busy lives but would love to pull off a Lunar New Year’s bash without a bead of sweat on the brow, might I suggest some tips to make it easy.

The first mistake of entertaining is believing that you need to do it all yourself — and that you need to create an extravagant, seven-course meal. Get your friends involved in the fun and make it a dumpling-making party instead.

Host a Dumpling-Making Party in Four Steps

1. The Main Event

– Supply enough aprons and hand towels
– Prepare or buy the dough/wrappers beforehand
– Prepare the filling in advance (see recipes here)

– Have a few stations set up, each with a bowl of filling and utensils so your guests can gather and participate.
– Have sheet trays ready to hold the dumplings until you’re ready to cook
– Once all the dumplings are ready, boil a pot of water, clean off the table and enjoy the fruits of your collective labour

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2. Side Dishes

Instead of spending hours preparing a multitude of sides, visit your local Asian grocer to purchase prepared dishes. Pick a few crowd-pleasers and supplement with Asian pickles and sautéed Chinese broccoli in garlic and soy.

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3. Dessert

Nian gao is one of the most traditional New Year’s sweets and can be purchased at any Asian grocer. The traditional method of serving is to dip in egg and pan-fry. To add a bit of texture and crunch, top with some candied walnuts. Serve this with segments of mandarin and a dark Puer tea.

4. Décor
Keep the décor fun and festive with lots of reds and golds. Little housewares stores in Chinatown will usually have a variety of nostalgic decals. Traditional snacks like oranges, kumquats, lucky candy and watermelon seeds can be placed in large bowls for everyone to pick at.

Get: 10 Mouth-Watering Dumplings for Chinese New Year

jackie-head shot Jackie Kai Ellis is the owner and baker of Beaucoup Bakery, CEO/co-founder of The Paris Tours, JKE, Bespoken, Recette and The Invisible Thread. To Learn more about her, follow her on Twitter @JackieKaiEllis.

Chinese Crispy Beef & Broccoli Noodles with Kung Pao Chili Oil

Chinese New Year is upon us! Time for firecrackers, dancing dragons, cornstarch and red everything! Being a connoisseur of Chinese Christmas takeout, not to mention an avid customer at late-night Chinese food joints, I will be celebrating the year of the goat with tons of greasy eats! If crispy beef, chow mein, Kung pao, and beef and broccoli made a baby, it would be this recipe. Not traditional in any sense, but definitely great for celebrating. Happy Chinese New Year!

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Yields: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 ½ hours

Ingredients for the Kung Pao Chili Oil:

1/3 cup canola oil
2 Tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
½ teaspoon grated ginger
½ teaspoon grated garlic
2-3 teaspoon red chili flakes
¼ cup chopped peanuts
1 red hot long pepper, sliced thinly
1/8 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice
½ teaspoon sesame seeds

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Ingredients for the Crispy Beef & Broccoli Noodles:

1 package (425 grams) flat, fresh rice noodles or dried wonton noodles
¾ – 1 pound Sirloin cut thinly into ¼”-thick strips
¼ cup cornstarch
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup canola oil for frying
Salt for seasoning

½ pound broccolini, stems removed
1 teaspoon sesame oil
3 teaspoon grated ginger
2 teaspoon grated garlic
3 Tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
3 Tablespoons dark soy sauce (regular soy if fine too)
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups mung bean sprouts

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Directions for the Kung Pao Chili Oil:

  1. Heat the canola and sesame oil over high heat for 2 minutes in a small sauce pan.
  2. Turn the heat off and immediately add the Sichuan peppercorns. They will sizzle at first. Let steep for 2 hours.
  3. Remove the Sichuan peppercorns from the oil and discard. If you like that strange mouth-numbing sensation from those peppercorns, just leave them in! (Personal preference is to remove them.)
  4. Add the grated ginger, garlic, and chili flakes to the oil.
  5. Turn the heat back on to medium-low. Fry for 2 minutes once you see that it has started to sizzle. Don’t let the garlic burn!
  6. Turn the heat off and let steep for 15 minutes.
  7. Combine the chopped peanuts, red hot long pepper, Chinese 5-Spice, and sesame seeds in small Mason jar (or bowl) and pour the chili oil over top.

Directions for the Crispy Beef & Broccoli Noodles:

  1. Cook the noodles in a large pot of salted boiling water until just cooked through.
  2. Drain into a colander and immediately run cold water over the noodles to stop the cooking. Set aside.
  3. Combine the cornstarch, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
  4. Heat the canola oil in a wok, or large frying pan, over high heat.
  5. When the oil is hot. Dredge the pieces of beef in the cornstarch, shake off any excess and fry for 4-5 minutes until the outer edges are golden brown and crispy. Note: do this in batches! Don’t crowd the beef in the oil or else it won’t fry properly and will become gummy. Add more oil to the wok as needed between batches and make sure to dredge the beef in the cornstarch just before placing it in the oil.
  6. Remove the beef to drain on a paper towel lined cooling rack or plate. Season with salt.
  7. Drain out any excess oil left in the wok after frying.
  8. Return the wok to the stove and turn the heat down to medium-high.
  9. Add the broccolini to the hot wok with ¼ cup of water. Toss frequently
  10. Once the broccolini has cooked through, with a slight crunch, and the water has evaporated, remove it from the wok.
  11. Immediately add the sesame oil to the hot wok. Add in the ginger and garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute.
  12. Add the Shaoxing wine, dark soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and salt to the wok.
  13. Once the sauce is bubbling, add the noodles, broccolini and sprouts. Toss until everything is warmed through and the sauce has thickened. Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly with salt.
  14. Plate the noodles and broccolini, top with the crispy beef, and drizzle Kung Pao oil over top. Enjoy!

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Notes, Substitutions and Shortcuts:

  • If you can find “Milanese” sliced beef, which is extremely thin, use that! It’s perfect.
  • Substitute Chinese Egg Noodles if you cannot find rice noodles or wonton noodles at your grocery store.
  • You can get store-bought garlic chili oil and add chopped peanuts and fresh red hot long pepper slices to it instead of making the Kung Pao Chili oil.
  • Kung Pao Chili Oil will last for 2 weeks in an air-tight container like a mason jar. The longer it sits, the spicier it gets!
  • A good substitution for Shaoxing wine is a medium-dry Sherry.
  • Dark soy sauce will be thicker and more flavourful than regular soy sauce. But if you do not want to buy a whole bottle of dark soy for 3 Tablespoons, you can just use whatever soy sauce you have on hand.
  • This dish comes together very quickly. Make sure you have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go before you start frying that beef!

100x100_Danielle-Oron Danielle is a chef, bakery owner, and food blogger who thinks she’s Korean, but is actually Israeli. Also, Danielle does not eat like a lady.

How to Host a Dumpling Making Party

Although they’re a traditional dish at
Lunar New Year feasts, dumplings can be enjoyed all year round. When steamed they
are soft and savoury; when fried they offer delectable crunch, but no matter
how they’re prepared, dumplings are pillows of comfort to the hungry.

There is, however, a price for the flavour
value dumplings provide: preparing them is hard work. But, hosting a dumpling
party is the perfect antidote to the monotony of stuffing and pinching.
Transformed into a social activity, repetition becomes a side-note, a whispered
tone that is lost amidst dominant chords of fun and community.

First
Things First

The host sets the tone for the party, and
it’s your choice how structured you want your dumpling fest to be. To keep
things simple for your guests (but more involved for you), prepare all tools
and ingredients in advance, and simply invite friends to attend and assemble. Alternatively,
you can host the party potluck style, asking everyone to pitch in by bringing
their own ingredients and tools.

Once all the guests and ingredients are together,
the fun of assembly begins. Some dumpling parties will assume a natural rhythm,
a communal assembly line of filling, pinching, and cooking, and others will
require more direction from the host, but whether you plan to organize your
people, or allow for freeform expression, it’s a good idea to make a few
practice dumplings yourself so you can give tutorials on the fine art of dumpling
stuffing.

How
to Make the Dumplings

1.
Lay a wrapper flat, mound about
a tablespoonful of filling in the centre, fold it into a half-moon and pinch-pleat
across the top so the filling is snugly contained. Don’t fret if your dumplings
look less than perfect—a tightly-filled dumpling will taste good no matter how
it looks, and even a loose dumpling can benefit the party.

2.
If it falls apart during
boiling it will help create a savoury broth that can be enjoyed after all the
other dumplings have been cooked. If you’re worried about your instructional
skills, treat your guests to a special presentation of one of YouTube’s many
dumpling-making tutorials.

3.
Place uncooked dumplings on
parchment lined pans, and avoid letting the sticky parcels touch as separating
them is next to impossible.

4.
It’s best to designate one
person to be in charge of each method of cooking: to prevent sticking, boiled
dumplings should not be overcrowded and are done when they rise to the top of
the pot (approximately 6 minutes). Silky steamed dumplings can be prepared in a
bamboo steamer and are done when the skins become translucent (approximately 8
minutes). To fry, carefully add steamed dumplings to a hot, oil-coated frying
pan and crisp until golden. 

The fillings listed below are specific to
Northeast Asian cultures that celebrate the Lunar New Year, but don’t feel
limited to those flavours. Indian samosas, Slavic perogies, Latin American
empanadas and Italian ravioli all have very different wraps and fillings, but
they share the same stuff-and-savour concept as dumplings. Their fillings can
easily be packed into dumpling wrappers—often with surprisingly tasty
results.

Potential
Fillings

·
Ground pork, beef, chicken or
lamb, blend to a paste

·
Shrimp, deveined and chopped

·
Scallops and crab, chopped

·
Scrambled eggs, finely chopped

·
Soft tofu, pressed and strained

·
Nappa cabbage, finely chopped

·
Carrots, finely diced

·
Spring onions, finely chopped

·
Oyster, shitake, enoki, and/or
button mushrooms, finely diced

·
Zucchini slivers

·
Kimchi, finely chopped

·
Watercress or spinach,
blanched, drained and squeezed to eliminate excess moisture

·
Sweet potato or glass noodles,
oiled to prevent sticking and chopped into small pieces

·
Ginger, crushed

·
Garlic, crushed

·
Fresh, finely chopped herbs
like dill, fennel, and cilantro

·
Dried herbs like garlic powder,
ginger powder, cumin, and turmeric

Wrappers
Buying fresh store-bought dumpling skins or wonton wrappers will save a ton of
time.  Freeze unused wrappers for your
next party.

Sauce
Ingredients

·
One or more types of soy sauce
(low sodium, tamari, ponzu, or a mix

·
Rice wine vinegar

·
Chili sauce or flakes

·
Fish sauce

·
Sesame oil

·
Sesame seeds

·
Sugar

·
Grated ginger

Assembly
Tools

·
Clean, flat surfaces for
assembling – countertops, tables or cutting boards

·
Bowls of water for rinsing
fingers and fixing dough

·
Bowls for each guest to concoct
their own fillings

·
Tape, paper and markers for
labeling

·
Clean, parchment-lined pans for
stashing uncooked dumplings

·
Plastic wrap to ensure uncooked
dumplings stay moist

Cooking
Tools
Pots and slotted spoons for boiling, bamboo trays
for steaming, frying pans, oil, and spatulas for frying

Safety
Tips
Leave the raw meats to adults. Keep bowls of water
and towels handy for wiping mucky surfaces, and encourage your guests to wash
their hands frequently. Kids can stay (relatively) clean and safe making
dumplings with vegetables and pre-cooked fillings like tofu and scrambled eggs.

Tasty
Combos

·
Pork, fennel and dill

·
Tofu and kimchi

·
Beef, ginger, scallion and
glass noodles

·
Lamb, garlic and cilantro

·
Chicken, cabbage, carrot, and
ginger

You can find handy
recipes for dumpling and sauces
right here on our website, but remember:
experimentation is the spice of a dumpling party.

Be creative, have fun, and above all kung hei fat choi! (Happy New Year!)