Celebrate Chinese New Year With Delicious Dumplings

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About the Author: Victoria Abbott Riccardi is a journalist, photographer and author of Untangling My Chopsticks: My Culinary Sojourn in Kyoto.

Celebrate Chinese New Year with this simple recipe for ginger-pork dumplings.

In honor of Chinese New Year, I’m sharing a recipe for juicy ginger-pork dumplings. This 15-day holiday is also called Spring Festival because it begins on the first day of the lunar calendar. On New Year’s Eve, which falls on Feb. 9 this year, families gather to honor their ancestors and celebrate the coming year with all sorts of special dishes symbolizing good luck, prosperity and long life.

Dumplings are one of those dishes because they signify wealth, due to their oval shape resembling the gold and silver ingots once used as money in China. Fillings can include pork, mutton, beef, chicken or seafood, along with vegetables. The dumplings can be steamed, fried, or steam-crisped in a skillet, as we’ve offered in the recipe below (resulting in a tender noodle top and golden, crispy bottom). Families usually serve the dumplings with a soy-based dipping sauce.

This recipe has been adapted from Essentials of Asian Cuisine (Simon & Schuster, 2010) by Corrine Trang. Since legend has it that the more dumplings you eat, the more prosperous you’ll be, why not double the recipe to share the bounty with friends and family?

Ginger and Pork Dumplings
Serves 6-12, makes 36 dumplings
1 tablespoon reduced sodium soy sauce
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon tapioca starch (or cornstarch)
Freshly ground black pepper
10-ounces lean ground pork (or ground turkey or chicken)
1-ounce fresh gingerroot, peeled and finely grated
2 scallions, trimmed and minced
36 prepared round wonton wrappers
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Dipping sauce
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced

1. Whisk together soy, sesame oil and tapioca starch in a medium bowl. Season with pepper; add pork, ginger and scallions and mix well to blend. Cover bowl and refrigerate filling at least 2 hours to let flavors develop.

2. Place a wonton wrapper on a clean work surface. Place a heaping teaspoon of pork filling in center of wonton. Dampen your fingertip with water and run it along edge of wrapper. Fold wrapper in half to make a crescent and pinch well to seal. Gently press the rounded bottom side of dumpling onto work surface to flatten it slightly, so it sits nicely with the pinched side propped up. Repeat process with rest of ingredients until you have 36 dumplings.

3. Working in batches, brush 1 teaspoon of oil across bottom of a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place about half the dumplings, flat side down, in skillet and cook until bottoms are golden, about 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup of water to skillet, cover, and steam dumplings until water has almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove cover and continue cooking until dumplings sizzle and their bottoms become crisp, about 1 minute. Repeat process with remaining 1 teaspoon of oil and remaining dumplings. Serve with dipping sauce. (To make dipping sauce, simply mix ingredients together.)

NUTRITION SCORE (per serving of 3 dumplings each, without dipping sauce)
107 calories
Fat 2 g (0g saturated)
Carbs 15 g
Protein 7 g
Fiber 0.5 g
Calcium 14 mg
Iron 1.1 mg
Sodium 206 mg

Photo credit: Paul Brighton