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1/19/09

PEKING RAVIOLI (JIAO-ZI) – ONE OF MY MOTHER'S MOST TREASURED RECIPES

Jiao zi are popular in Northern China in areas such as Beijing and Shangtung where wheat flour is used. In the Northeast of the United States these tasty dumplings are commonly called "Peking Ravioli," a name coined and made popular by my mother when we opened our first restaurant in the late 1950's.

My mother coined the name Peking Ravioli, because when we started serving jiao-zi in our restaurant in the 1950's, no one had seen anything like them before. Borrowing from the Italian at least gave people the idea that they were dough pockets with a filling. Interestingly, although the name potsticker is common now, just about all the Chinese restaurants in this area still call these dumplings Peking Ravioli because of my mother's influence.

Making Jiao zi is a social occasion for the whole family and a tradition during Chinese New Year. Here I am with my goddaughter making jiao zi for the new year. The dumplings take on different names depending upon the manner in which they are cooked. If they are pan fried, they are called "guo tie" or potsticker because they stick to the pot when cooked. If they are boiled they are called "jiao zi."

I will give you my mother's recipe for the dumplings just as she gave to me:


JIAO ZI or PEKING RAVIOLI


YIELD: 32 DUMPLINGS


1 pound napa cabbage
1 ½ teaspoon salt, divided
¾ pound ground pork
1 ½ tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon dry sherry
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or bacon drippings
1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
1 pound round dumpling wrappers
  1. Wash and drain cabbage and chop very fine, sprinkling 1 teaspoon salt over the cabbage as you chop. Place chopped cabbage in a cloth bag or in a sheet of cheesecloth, doubled over. Squeeze out enough liquid to make 1 cup. Discard liquid.
  2. Put the remaining ingredients, except the wrappers, into a large bowl and add the cabbage. Mix well – hand mixing is the best way. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
There will be enough meat filling for about 32 jiao zi.

It’s now fairly easy to find round dough wrappers called Dumpling or Gyoza wrappers in a good supermarket or Asian market. I like to use Twin Marquis brand “Dumpling Wrapper (Shanghai Style)” which come in 16 ounce packages.

TO FORM THE DUMPLINGS:

  1. Place a heaping teaspoon of the filling in the center of a round wrapper.
  2. Fold the wrapper in half to form a half moon shape and brush the edges with a little water.
  3. Pinch the edges together to seal tightly (you can also use Helen’s Asian Kitchen Dumplings Press).
  4. Place formed dumplings on a floured baking sheet or plate until ready to cook. Keep them covered with a damp cloth to prevent drying.

NOTE: Uncooked dumplings may be kept in the refrigerator for several days or frozen for several weeks. To freeze, place the dumplings on floured baking sheets in the freezer. When they have frozen, you can put them into a plastic bag and seal. Do not drop them into a freezer bag while they are soft or they will stick together.

TO BOIL THE DUMPLINGS:

  1. Bring 5 quarts of water to a boil in a stock pot.
  2. Slip the dumplings into the boiling water, being sure there is enough room to allow them to swim about freely; cover and cook over medium high heat until water boils again. Keep and eye on the pot because it can foam and boil over easily.
  3. As soon as the water returns to a boil, add a cup of cold water, cover and continue cooking over medium heat. When the water comes to a boil a third time remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 2 - 3 minutes. This procedure ensures that the filling will be cooked through.
  4. Remove dumplings with a wire strainer and drain in a colander. Transfer to a plate or shallow platter and serve immediately.

It is customary to serve boiled jiao-zi with a vinegar/soy(light)/hot oil dip that guests may put together themselves. Just set out cruets of each (you can also use Chinkiang vinegar) and let people mix their own. My family and I actually prefer to eat jiao-zi with just cider vinegar.

For a whole meal, Chinese style, allow 6 to 15 pieces per person depending upon their appetite. The Chinese also like to serve the cooking water as a refreshing hot beverage after the meal. I personally find it tasteless, but many Chinese are partial to it.

Copyright© 1994, 2007, 2009 Helen Chen. All rights reserved.
Helen's Asian Kitchen is not associated with Joyce Chen Products.

4 comments:

  1. Bob McLendonJanuary 26, 2009

    Thank you so much for the dumpling recipe. I love it even more knowing that it was your Mother's recipe. I'm making those this week-end.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great site. I am Italian American and was blown away seeing your Mom's recipe for Peking Ravioli.
    The recipe looks wonderful.Going to give it a try this weekend for Super Bowl Sunday.
    Wish me Luck!
    Oh one question I see you can fry and boil the Ravioli. Can you steam them also?
    I received a Helen's Asian Kitchen Steamer for Christmas this year(I Love it) and have been steaming lots of veggies. Would like to try the Ravioli's . Awaiting your response.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey Brenda: Thanks for your kind words. Steamed Chinese raviolis are made with a different type of dough, so I wouldn't recommend steaming these when wrapped with store-bought wrappers. Boil them, the way the Chinese do ( lower in fat too), drain them well and serve them hot with a vinegar and soy sauce dip. Good luck and let me know how they turn out. You'll be a hero on Super Bowl Sunday!

    ReplyDelete
  4. LOL: "I personally find it tasteless, but many Chinese are partial to it." Such fun to see honest commentary on foods of such long and traditional origins.

    I am Italian and NEVER understood the Italian penchant for bitter foods.

    ReplyDelete

Share your comments, questions and Asian cuisine experiences here.

ABOUT HELEN CHEN

Like so many of us, Helen Chen learned to cook at her mother's side. But few of us had a mother like Joyce Chen. Helen grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where her mother prepared the authentic dishes of her native Shanghai and Beijing with the sort of regularity the rest of us came to expect of macaroni and cheese or meatloaf.

"I remember when I was little, watching my mother prepare meals for family and friends. I once wrote a list of my favorite Chinese dishes," Helen recalls, "I came up with 150 recipes. I do not have one or two favorites. All the dishes on the list are traditional and all are ones that I learned from my mother. That is what I love most about Chinese food: its variety. Taste, texture and color all come into play, as does personality and culture. I think this is what cooking is all about."

Soft spoken and intensely intelligent, Helen Chen was born in Shanghai and moved to the U.S. with her family while still a baby. Helen grew up, as she describes it, in a traditional Chinese-American household. "When I was young I wanted to be totally American," she remembers. "It wasn't until I was in high school that I realized how lucky I was to have two cultures."

Today, Helen Chen is a widely acknowledged expert in Chinese cooking. Besides her role as an educator and cookbook author, she also is a corporate spokesperson and business consultant to the house wares industry. In 2007 she created and developed a new line of Asian kitchenware under the brand name Helen’s Asian Kitchen®, expressly for Harold Import Company in New Jersey.

Having been born in China and raised and educated in the United States, Helen brings the best of both worlds to her approach to the art of Chinese cuisine. She understands the needs of the American cook as only a native can, yet she is intimately knowledgeable in the culinary practices and philosophy of China.

In her active role as a teacher and educator, Helen teaches Chinese cuisine at Boston University; and, through the Anderson Foundation’s enrichment program ‘Cooking Up Culture’ she teaches Boston area school children from grades 1-12 about Chinese cuisine and culture. She also teaches Asian cuisine in numerous cooking schools across the country.

Helen has lectured to various professional and culinary organizations such as the International Association of Culinary Professionals, Boston University Seminars in the Arts and Culinary Arts, Oldways Preservations and Exchange Trust, Small Business Development Center, The Culinary Historians of Boston, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs and the Culinary Guild of New England. In addition, she conducts culinary tours of Boston’s Chinatown and is a frequent guest chef at cooking schools around the U.S.

Helen is the author of Helen Chen’s Chinese Home Cooking (Hearst Books, 1994), Peking Cuisine (Orion Books,1997) and Helen’s Asian Kitchen: Easy Chinese Stir-Fries (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). A second book in the Helen’s Asian Kitchen series, Helen’s Asian Kitchen: Easy Asian Noodles is scheduled for publication in January, 2010.