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Learn with me: Making jiaozi (stuffed dumplings)

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On New Year's Eve, every household is busy making jiaozi (dumplings stuffed with meat or vegetable filling). There are two parts to make this traditional New Year's dish.

First the filling is made. The filling can be either meat or vegetarian, but usually it is made with a combination of meat and vegetables. To make the filling, first the meat is very finely minced and then put in a bowl or pot. The minced meat is mixed with water, egg white, and oil to form a paste. Liberal amounts of water and oil should be used, otherwise the filling will be too dry. Minced green onions, ginger, and other spices, as well as finely minced vegetables such as cabbage, Chinese leeks, or celery, are also mixed into the filling.

Second, the wrappings are made. Flour is mixed with water and kneaded until smooth. The dough is then set to rest for twenty minutes. When the dough is soft and pliable, it is formed into long rolls. Small pieces of dough are pinched off the roll, and rolled out into rounds. The center of each wrapping should be somewhat thicker, and the edges thinner.

After the filling and wrappings have been prepared, it's time to assemble the jiaozi. The wrapping is held in the palm of one hand, and an appropriate amount of filling is placed in the center. The wrapping is folded in half into a half-moon shape, and the edges are pinched tightly together to prevent the filling from leaking out. When sealing the edges, they can be pinched into auspicious decorative patterns such as scallops or twists. Sometimes red dates, pieces of candy, or coins are placed inside a few jiaozi. Whoever gets one of these special pieces will be especially lucky.

To cook the jiaozi, a pot of water is heated over a high flame. When the water comes to a boil, the jiaozi are added. They will sink to the bottom of the pot. They should only be stirred in one direction; otherwise they will stick to the bottom of the pot and break. When the water once more comes to a boil, cold water is be added. This is done twice. When the jiaozi bob to the surface of the water, they are ready to eat.

New Year Customs

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