Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

Celebrate the Chinese New Year with jiaozi to represent family unity, good luck and prosperity.

In the northern provinces of China, the custom is for families to gather around a table on the eve of the New Year and prepare the stuffed noodles that will be cooked and eaten after midnight.

The dumpling represents family unity. And bringing everyone around the table to share in the labor of cooking does exactly that. The little bundles of pork and vegetables are also a sign of luck and prosperity for the New Year, since their crescent shape resembles an ancient form of Chinese money.

Pork and Cabbage Dumplings

(Makes 40-50)

1 pound ground pork
1 cup finely chopped Napa or Savoy cabbage (some leaves reserved for steaming)
1 green onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
Dash of white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
40 to 50 dumpling skins or wonton skins

Mix all the filling ingredients. Lay out six of the dumpling skins on the table and put a teaspoon of filling in the center of each. Use your finger or a pastry brush to put a thin coating of water around the edge of the skin. Fold the skin over to form a half-moon shape, and pinch the edges tightly to enclose the filling. Traditionally, you gather one side of the dumpling into several pleats, but it’s not necessary.

Continue with the remaining skins and place the completed dumplings onto a wax paper or parchment-lined tray. You can boil the dumplings by gently dropping them into a pot of boiling water. They will take about 10 minutes and will float to the top. I prefer to use a steamer.

Cover the bottom of your steamer with leaves of the Napa or Savoy cabbage. Place the dumplings in and steam them for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with dipping sauce.

Pork and Shrimp Filling

(Makes 40-50)

1/4 pound ground pork
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 green onion, chopped
1 small can water chestnuts, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup cilantro
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 dash white pepper

Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the shrimp is finely chopped and the ingredients are well-mixed. Do not overprocess. Proceed as with the pork dumplings to fill and steam or boil.

Note: Once you’ve filled the dumplings, they can be frozen on a baking sheet and later put into a plastic bag for storage in the freezer.

Dipping Sauce

1/3 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional)

Chris Fennimore is the director of programming at WQED and the producer/host for QED Cooks. Follow his blog on food and family at wqed.org/tv/cooks/chrischat/