Jiaozi, Chinese Dumplings
"Jiaozi" is the Chinese name of Chinese Dumplings, a traditional food in China said to be over 1,400 years old and is still extremely popular in modern times. Jiaozi is a must have dish on a Chinese New Year dinner table, but is also eaten on many other occassions.
Jiaozi simply consists of the filling and the wrapper. The filling is usually ground meat and/or chopped vegetables mixed with condiments and the wrapper is finely rolled dough. The wrapper is sealed by pressing the edges together after the filling has been added. Jiaozi are normally cooked by being boiled in plain water and is mostly eaten with a vinegar dipping sauce or sometimes soy sauce or chili sauce.
Classic fillings of Jiaozi
The most common filling of Jiaozi is a pork and green onion mixture as well as a pork and Chinese cabbage mixture. Green onion and Chinese cabbage are the most common vegetables eaten in winter, as has been the case since ancient times. In addition, mutton, beef and mushrooms are also frequently used as filling. Also, those who live by the coast like to make Jiaozi with fish fillings.
The origin of Jiaozi
In the late years of the Eastern Han Dynasty, the famous herbalist Zhang Zhongjing came across many people suffering from hunger and struggling in the severely cold weather, with many of them having frostbite on their ears. He wanted to help them so Zhang Zhongjing boiled mutton and mixed it with herbs in an attempt to help fend off the cold and wrapped the mixture with pieces of rolled dough. Due to the shape of them resembling an ear, people referred to them as Jiaozi as Jiao'er (tender ear). Zhang Zhongjing produced Jiao'er until the eve of Chinese New Year, which is where the tradition of eating Jiaozi on every Chinese New Year's day comes from.
Customs of eating Jiaozi
Jiaozi are particularly popular in northern China. A family eating steaming hot Jiaozi around a table is regarded as a fantastic occasion in winter. Thanks to the tale of Zhang Zhongjing, Jiaozi are very popular on the day of Winter Solstice (October first of Chinese Lunar Year) with the hope that no frostbite would develop on the ears during the entirety of winter.
Moreover, "Jiaozi" is a homophone of the Chinese word for "the changing of the new year and the old year during 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.", so Jiaozi is arguably the most important dish to have on a New Year's Eve dinner table for those from the north of China. Eating Jiaozi during Chinese New Year is also believed to ward off evil spirits and symbolises the family getting together and enjoying each other's company.
Those who live in southern China don't have many customs associated with eating Jiaozi; they simply eat them as a common Chinese food.
Proverbs about Jiaozi
Chinese people always have strong feelings when making and eating Jiaozi. Below are some well known proverbs.
"Eating Jiaozi and drinking wine makes one feel satisfied. "
"Drinking Jiaozi soup is better than any health care products. "
"The most comfortable thing to do is lying in the bed, and the most delicious food to eat is Jiaozi."