Let’s embrace the symbolic foods vital to any Lunar New Year Celebration. Oranges suggest prosperity, noodles represent longevity, and egg rolls signify money, but humble dumplings typify the most important quality of all…family unity and togetherness.

The centerpiece of any traditional Lunar New Year’s meal are round meat filled dumplings known as, Jiaozi. Families often work together to fill, wrap and cook the diminutive packages and gather together to eat them at midnight at the start of the lunar calendar year.  With the year of the pig upon us there is no better time to hit the kitchen with your loved ones and whip up a batch of savory celebratory dumplings.

Taking the time to make them will bring a genuine sense of togetherness to your family and whether you eat my Year of the Pig Dumplings at midnight or midday, you’ll certainly experience the good fortune of a full belly.

Lunar New Year Dumplings–Makes about 50 Dumplings

Traditional Chinese Jiaozi (pot stickers) are usually made with homemade dough. My variation for home cooks takes advantage of supermarket wonton wrappers with out sacrificing fun or flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-2” piece of peeled fresh ginger
  • 8 water chestnuts
  • ½ Cup shredded carrot, steamed until tender
  • 1 pound ground pork*
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon white pepper
  • ¼ Cup scallions, sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 1 package of square wonton wrappers
  • Soy Sauce, Hot Chili Paste, Oranges and Scallions

Directions:

Place the garlic, ginger, water chestnuts, and shredded carrot in the bowl of a food processor. Process until minced.  Add the pork, zest, sugar, soy, vinegar, oil, salt pepper and scallions to the processor.  Pulse until combined.  Add the cornstarch and  ½ of the egg white (reserve the yolk for wrapping); pulse until combined.  Transfer to a bowl. Mixture can be made 24 hours in advance and stored covered in the refrigerator.

Wrap the dumplings and spread them in a single layer on parchment lined baking sheet covered with a slightly damp towel until all of the dumplings are wrapped and ready to cook. Dumplings can be frozen on the sheet pans until solid and transferred to Ziploc bags for storage if desired.  

Steam or boil the frozen dumplings for a quick weeknight meal. Detailed folding and cooking instructions below

*Chinese New Year dumplings are traditionally filled with pork, but feel free to substitute ground raw chicken, shrimp, or turkey according to your personal taste.

Wrapping and cooking Lunar New Year dumplings:

Place the dumplings, folded side up, in a hot skillet that has been lightly brushed with canola oil.  Cook with out disturbing for about 1 minute until golden brown on the bottom.  Carefully (oil may sputter)  ladle ½ C to ¾ C of water into the skillet with the dumplings.  Cover, reduce heat to medium and allow dumplings to steam for 6 minutes or until cooked through. Alternatively dumplings can be steamed in a lettuce lined bamboo steamer for 10-12 minutes or simmered in water or stock until cooked through). Repeat until all dumplings are cooked.

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