Recipes for an East Bay Lunar New Year

Recipes by Carolyn Phillips
Illustrations by Margo Rivera-Weiss

Last February, Edible East Bay staff illustrator Margo Rivera-Weiss helped friends Ruth and Michael Chen usher in the Year of the Dog as they made jiao tze (or jiaozi) according to an old recipe they carry around in their heads.

Anticipating the approach of the Year of the Pig on February 5, 2019, we asked local East Bay cookbook author and Chinese cooking expert Carolyn Phillips for a recipe that might be similar to the Chens’. She offered the following, adapted from her book All Under Heaven.


Boiled Jiaozi with Shrimp and Pork Filling

Reprinted with permission from All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China by Carolyn Phillips, copyright © 2016. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Book illustrations by Carolyn Phillips © 2016

Makes 36 and serves 3 to 4

Boiled jiaozi are particularly popular at northern Chinese celebrations for the Lunar New Year. Rolling, filling, wrapping, and eating them is a communal affair—a time for laughter, gossip, and the sharing of news.

Just about anything you like can be used to stuff jiaozi. Meats, poultry, and seafood should be chopped very finely or ground; vegetables can be slightly larger to provide contrasting texture. Fat of some sort is almost always included to give the jiaozi good flavor.

1 recipe Plain Cold-Water Dough
1 recipe Shrimp and Pork Filling

Plain Cold-Water Dough

Makes about 2¼ pounds
4 cups all-purpose flour* (plus more for kneading)
2 cups pastry or cake flour*
2¾ cups cool water

Whirl the flour and water together in a food processor or stand mixer with a paddle attachment, either of which takes mere seconds. If you are using a machine, place the flour and water in the bowl and either process it with a metal blade or beat it with the paddle attachment until the dough forms a ball and no longer sticks to the bowl.

Scrape the dough onto a floured flat surface, sprinkle more flour on top, and knead until dough is soft and satiny. At this point, the dough should not stick to either your hands or the board, and when pinched between the fingers, it will feel like an earlobe. Form the dough into a ball, dust it liberally with flour, and place it in a plastic bag. It may be prepared up to this point a few days ahead of time and refrigerated; allow the dough to return to room temperature before shaping the dough.

*Carolyn Phillips prefers Chinese flour, but this combination of American all-purpose and pastry flour works for this use.

Shrimp and Pork Filling

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 pounds ground pork (30% fat)
½ cup peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
6 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup mild rice wine
2 teaspoons sugar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
8 large leaves napa cabbage
2 teaspoons sea salt
8 green onions, trimmed and finely chopped

Coarsely chop shrimp. Place in a bowl and add the pork, ginger, soy sauce, rice wine, sugar, and black pepper. Mix well.
Finely chop the cabbage and toss it with the salt. Wait about half an hour, then squeeze it dry in your fists. Toss the pork and shrimp with the cabbage and onions.

To Assemble the Jiaozi

If the dough has been chilled, knead it gently on a lightly floured board to soften it a bit; ideally it should not need more than a mere sprinkling of flour, so only add as much as is absolutely necessary to keep the dough from sticking to your hands or board. Cut the dough into fist-sized chunks and knead them one at a time until the dough is supple again, using a tea towel to cover whatever dough you are not working with so that it stays moist.

Roll the dough out into a long rope about an inch in diameter. Use a pastry scraper to cut the rope into inch-long pieces. Dust the pieces with flour, roll each into a ball, and then flatten into round disks. Roll each disk to 2 inches in diameter, turning with one hand while wielding the rolling pin with the other. Lightly dust the wrappers with flour and cover them with a tea towel. Fill immediately and keep covered, or freeze them to fill later.

To fill the jiaozi, place a wrapper on the palm of your hand and use the other hand to place the filling in the center. Fold the wrapper over the filling, matching up the edges as they meet, to form a half moon shape. Press down on the edges to seal.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add about a dozen jiaozi to the boiling water and bring it back to a full boil while stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Pour about a cup of cool water into the pot and bring the water back to a boil. Repeat this one more time, at which point the jiaozi should be floating. Remove them to a serving platter with a slotted spoon. Cook the remainder in the same way. Serve each batch immediately as it is cooked.