Making Dumplings (饺子: jiǎozi)

Homestay tutors making dumplings in Shenzhen

Today, we are going to learn how to cook some delicious Chinese dumplings! This is something the Abridge Academy team had a lot of fun trying (and eating!) so we can confirm even complete cooking novices can produce edible results… 

The importance of dumplings in Chinese culture

In China, dumplings (饺子) originated from northern China and are believed to bring good luck and prosperity, due to their unusual shape resembling ancient gold ingots. Traditionally, dumplings are made on the eve of Chinese new year, and a small coin is hidden inside one. Whoever finds the coin is said to have good fortune for the new year! This is particularly the case for ‘water dumplings’ (水饺) – those boiled in water rather than pan fried.

Another story about dumplings is that of Zhang Zhongjing, who made dumplings from mutton, chilli and herbs as a remedy against frost-bite. This legend explains why dumplings are traditionally folded into an ‘ear’ shape, as this was believed to help the ‘medicine’ target the ears!

There are actually many different types of dumplings originating from all across China – from the heavier meat-based dumplings in the North to Shanghai soup dumplings and lighter shrimp or vegetable variations in the South. 

Recipe and Video

To avoid re-inventing the wheel, we’ve roughly followed this excellent vegetarian dumpling recipe – feel free to adapt to whatever ingredients you have at home! The meat-eaters out there may also wish to check out more traditional pork dumpling recipes, lighter egg and chive dumplings or these delicious shrimp dumplings, the overall process should be similar.

Ingredients (for 25-30 dumplings)

  • 5 cups of chopped cabbage
  • 1 large grated carrot
  • 6 large diced mushrooms
  • 3 chopped spring onions
  • Generous dash of Shaoxing wine or rice vinegar
  • Pack of pre-made dumpling wrappers (or make your own)
  • Soy sauce, vinegar or chilli sauce to serve

Step by step instructions

Step 1: Make the filling

The filling is surprisingly simple to make. We chose a vegetarian recipe based around shredded cabbage, but there are a huge variety of dumpling filling recipes online – from the most popular pork dumplings to delicious shrimp varieties!

In general, making the filling just requires mixing together the ingredients and frying in a pan until the meat is fully cooked.

Step 2: Fill the dumplings

Ok, we kinda cheated here by buying ready-made dumpling wrappers (you can make your own from flour and water)…

There is a lot of technique required to carefully fold the dumplings – try and avoid overfilling them, fold precisely and dampen the join slightly to help it stick.

Step 3: Pan fry

Dumplings can be cooked in a variety of ways – typically by steaming, boiling or frying. Our favourite is definitely crispy pan fried dumplings – popular in Northern China.

Simply place the dumplings in a frying pan, pour a small amount of water over the top (top tip: make them crispy by adding a generous sprinkle of flour to the water) and fry until they are golden all over.

Step 4: Serve

Dumplings are best eaten immediately, straight out the pan while they are still hot.

Dip them in vinegar or soy sauce for some additional flavour, or if you are feeling more adventurous add a dash of chilli oil!


Congratulations on your delicious dumplings! Please do share your creations with us – tag @abridgeacademy on instagram for a feature!

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