Three generations of women coming together to make dumplings. It’s almost poetic.
The first generation Chinese-influenced. The second generation Japanese-influenced. The next generation (me) Western-influenced. It was a rather thrilling experience to be in the same kitchen working on the same thing and I’m very pleased to say the results were safe to eat (since I was the one with the responsibility of boiling them) and very yummy indeed, thanks to my maternal Gramma’s guidance.

Boiled dumplings, or shuijiao (水餃), are one of the variations of Chinese dumplings, also known as jiaozi (餃 子) or gyoza (with the same characters) which are the Japanese version of dumplings. The difference between the Japanese and Chinese variety is the type of skin used and the flavouring of the fillings. Japanese gyoza are more modestly flavoured with sauces and contain garlic. Chinese dumplings are flavoured with wine, soy sauce, etc. and contain no garlic. The skin is also slightly different. It is like wonton skins, having a yellow tint to it unlike its cousin - the Japanese white gyoza skin is similar to the dough used to make noodles. Nonetheless, it is common to find jiaozi with white skins in restaurants these days. 

These dumplings are rather easy to prepare. As they will form its own shape during the boiling process, no fancy wrapping style is needed or patterning at the edges. Simply seal and place in boiling water and you’ve got the real McCoy. However, as meat is involved, one must be careful and ensure that the meat is fully cooked before removing from the hot water.I love these dumplings with Chinese pulled noodles and roast pork. It’s one of the dishes I love to order when I’m at the hawker centres or food republics or kopitiams, whatever they’re fancy new names are. They’re also fantastic in hot noodle soup as the skins get all soft, silky and so delicate with an almost-melt-in-your-mouth consistency.
But I’m a fickle woman. And I have no qualms about being fickle, especially when it concerns matters of the tastebuds. There’s no trawthe or fidelity in my tale of Roman de la Rose (of my tastebuds! haha). So I’ll tell you about the delights I found in Taiwan’s potstickers…

Boiled dumplings are generally the same as potstickers except the cooking method is slightly different. Potstickers, known as guotie (鍋貼) or jianjiao (煎餃), are steamed then shallow fried and often eaten with special dipping sauces for extra kick. These dumplings are popular in Northern areas, so I’ve learnt, and often appear as a street food or appetizer in Chinese, Japanese (yaki-gyōza 焼き餃子) and Korean cuisines. Now that Gramma’s educated me in the Way of the Dumpling, I believe I won’t be running to Wagamama’s for any last minute mental cravings for dumplings - not if I can whip this up on my own, freeze and pop em out to boil whenever I want them.

These potstickers I tasted in Taiwan were the best pick-me-up of the nightmarkets. Aside from the fact that I ate loads of dorayaki in the week I was there, I had never tasted potstickers as good as these guys. Trudging through RaoHe Night Market, I was famished and knackered from walking all day. I would have fallen over like a spastic wally-brain if not for this tub of dumplings. Perfectly cooked and flavoured with a great balance of the softness of the dumpling skin but golden-brown crispiness at the edges - it was deeeee-lish! My sister insisted it was just the comforting warmth of the first cooked food we had all day that was getting me all teary-eyed about it, but I honestly doubt it. They were good, and that’s that.

The dipping sauce was poured over the dumplings. After a little research on the net, it seems the dipping sauce comprises soy sauce, sesame oil, Chinese red rice vinegar, ginger and fresh chili. It was really good since the dumplings on their own might’ve been slightly lacking.

This recipe here produces about 50 odd regular-sized boiled dumplings. You may reduce the recipe accordingly or freeze prepared dumplings for later use.

Chinese Boiled Dumplings Ingredients : 

  • 450g minced pork
  •  350g tiger prawns, peeled and de-veined and split into half
  • 75g water chestnuts (about 4-5), peeled, finely sliced and then chopped to fine bits
  • 1-2 stalks spring onions, only the green lengths chopped
  •  2 tsp potato starch
  •  4 tbs light soy sauce
  •  3 1/2 tbs sesame oil
  •  2 tbs Chinese Shao Hsing wine
  •  pinch of ground white pepper
  • about 300g dumpling/gyoza skins (depending on size of dumplings, prepare about 60 sheets; gyoza skins are thinner and whiter but also perfect for these)



Prepare all ingredients beforehand as this may take a while. Place half of prepared chopped water chestnuts in a large bowl. Add rest of ingredients except prawns and mix well, pressing the starch and sauces into the minced pork till it is smooth and soft. It should start to form a rather sticky texture due to the starch. Cornflour or cornstarch may be used in replacement of potato starch, however, potato starch is smoother and supposedly more effective. It also keeps longer in the refrigerator than cornflour. Do not leave this to marinate as there is no need for it and instead, the pork will start to produce water. Add rest of water chestnuts and mix in. Prepare a small plate or bowl of water.

To make dumplings: With 1 dumpling skin in the palm of your hand, spoon about 1/2 tbs of meat into the centre, pressing it out into a rectangular-ish shape. Place a prawn strip on top. Wet finger with water and wet the circumference of the dumpling skin. Fold over the bottom half/top half of skin to form a crescent moon and seal the dumpling. Press gently on the outside of the edges so as not to break the skin to seal. Wet any unsealed areas to re-seal dumpling.

Prepare a pot of water and let boil. Only once water starts to bubble and boil, add a little cooking oil to it. Place about 4 dumplings each time (depends really on the size of your pot) to boiling water and let cook. Once the dumpling floats up to the surface, allow to cook for another 3-4 minutes (depending on size of dumpling) before removing from the water with a sieve or dumpling spoon.
Serve with soy sauce and sliced chili or in a bowl of your favourite noodles and noodle soup stock.

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