Dumplings, or jiaozi, boiled, steamed or pan-fried (pot stickers), are an important part of Chinese cuisine. Each usually contains a combination of meat, vegetable and starch. They are a good way of getting balanced nutrition. In Northern China, jiaozi have a special significance during the Lunar New Year festivities. The whole family gets together on New Year’s Eve to make jiaozi. Everyone, whether old or young, man or woman, participates. Some make the dough, others make the filling, still others wrap the filling in dough sheets, and one will have the responsibility to boil the jiaozi.
For the dipping sauce:
Pot stickers, known as jiaozi in China, are a kind of meat or vegetable-filled dumpling, commonly eaten across Asia. While the dumplings can be boiled, steamed, or fried, the popular method is to fry the dumplings in a little oil, add a bit of water, and then cover to steam and cook the filling. Once the water has evaporated, the dumplings are pan fried on one side for a crispy outside texture.
Combine the pork, soy sauce, salt, sugar, and 4 tablespoons water, and marinate for 15 minutes.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add the cabbage, and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Chop the cabbage and squeeze out most of the water. Mix thoroughly with the pork. Stir in the cornstarch (cornflour) and sesame oil and mix well.
Fill a small dish with cold water and set aside. Lay a dumpling wrapper in your hand and place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the middle. Brush a little water on the edge of the wrapper, fold over into a semicircle, and seal the top by firmly squeezing the edges together. Start on one end of the semicircle and create pleats by pinching and pressing the edges tightly, about 10–14 pleats per dumpling. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
To make the dipping sauce, combine the vinegar and the ginger in a small bowl and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet (frying pan) over medium heat, add the pot stickers and 1/2 cup (4 fl oz/120 ml) water, and cover the pan. Cook for 20 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the bottoms of the pot stickers are golden brown. Transfer to a serving plate, garnish with cilantro (coriander), if using, and serve with the dipping sauce.
Adapted from China: The Cookbook by Kei Lum and Diora Fong Chan (Phaidon, 2016)