Pan fried jiaozi

The Best Guide To Cook Amazing Chinese Jiaozi 饺子

boiled jiaozi

You don’t need to stay in China for a long time to find out that Chinese like dumplings (jiaozi-饺子) a lot.  Jiaozi is the dish for almost all of the Chinese festivals (about ten).  Other than this, people make jiaozi when they receive or bid farewell to their friends; or during weekends, when they don’t know what to eat. The expression “why not make jiaozi!” is evocative of a festive and homely atmosphere.

1. A little history of Jiaozi

It is said that jiaozi has about 2000 years of history. Unsurprisingly, it was first made in the Northern region. Indeed, jiaozi skin is made from flour; and wheat is the main crop of Northern China.  The Chinese civilization mainly originated from the Northern area (Yellow River Basin), and the capital cities of almost all the dynasties were located in this part of the country.  By contrast, many Southern people still don’t know how to make jiaozi or don’t like to eat them. Instead, they eat sticky rice ball during the festivals.

This small dish has more than one significance to the chinese people. It goes deep into the soul of their culture. 

2. The popularity of jiaozi

This small dish has more than one significance to the chinese people. It goes deep into the soul of their culture. 

Chinese gold ingot has the same shape as jiaozi

2.1. Jiaozi and money in Chinese culture

One of the main reasons why jiaozi is popular is due to its shape. Indeed, the silver ingot (银元宝) is reminiscent of the coinage used for several hundreds years. 
During chinese festivals, people like to put some small coins inside the jiaozi filling(饺子馅).  It’s a game as well as a good wish, that whoever eats these jiaozis make a good fortune.

2.2. Efforts together

Another reason for their popularity is that it takes efforts to make them.  Normally, whole family members are involved, which in turns create a festive mood. While one is making the dough, another can wash and chop the vegetables, and still, someone else minces the meat, all at the same time. It’s therefore a perfect time to tell tales of one’s life while diffusing one’s sorrow in the efforts required.  

2.3. The flexibility of jiaozi

Jiaozi itself is a complete meal, as you can mix meat, fish or other seafoods along with vegetables and flour wraps.  You therefore have everything in one meal. Moreover, this dish is flexible as you can fill it with whatever you want. So, there are no limitations from that perspective.  If you are the meat lover kind for example, you can stuff your jiaozi with meat only. If on the other hand of the spectrum you are vegetarian, there are quite a few combinations for delicious vegetables fillings.  Still, the most common way is to mix the meat and vegetables.  Otherwise, you can mix any meat or seafoods with any kind of vegetables like chicken, pork, lamb, beef, fish, prawn, clams etc.  The main thing to remember is to squeeze the liquid out, when you deal with some watery vegetables, before you mix them into the filling (check the video tutorial).  

3. Chinese cooking philosophy 

Making jiaozi also reflects the philosophy of Chinese cooking.  There is no precise measurement for the ingredients.  It’s totally up to the person’s own preference.  If you like more meat, there is nothing wrong about putting more meat. For example, coastal people put fish and seafood in the filling where it is more convenient to get.  Actually, seafood jiaozi is delicious!  In terms of seasonings, each family may have their own secret flavours as they can put whatever seasonings they like.  

4. How to eat them 

Normally, chinese people like to dip the jiaozi in pure vinegar sauce.  However, you can add chilli oil, or minced garlic into the sauce if you like.  Or you can just eat them plain if you don’t like any sauce.  So, don’t be embarrassed about doing what you feel like. Once, while a student in America, I invited a few American friends for some jiaozi.  One of the guys gave up after eating a few.  Later on, when I asked him the reason. He then said that he did not like the vinegar sauce!

Other than the sauce, this dish goes very well with beers, rice wine, wine (white for fish, red for meat) or the strong Chinese liquor called Baijiu (白酒). I personally would advise anyone to stay away from Baijiu. However, sometimes; especially if you are caught with friendly chinese people; you might need to immerse yourself in their drinking culture as well. As long as you take a taxi back home, everything should be fine.

5. How to cook jiaozi 

There are many ways to cook the jiaozi.  The common way is to boil ( 煮饺子),  pan fry(煎), steam(蒸)or deep fry (炸) them though the latter is not very common.

6. An entry into the chinese heart

Most chinese people don’t expect foreigners to be able to speak their language let alone know how to cook the food they love. I like to say that the sure way to someone’s heart is through their tummy. Somehow, this part of the body seems to be the centre of emotional memories. Therefore, if you can cook jiaozi for Chinese (especially boiled ones), with the right amount of sauce (vinegar etc..), you will instantly find your way to their hearts. You will realise they open up more to you and are more relaxed in how they relate to you. I just gave you a fast-track way into chinese culture. Now use it.

Fresh jiaozi

Fried jiaozi

Now let’s go and cook us some jiaozi. I made the recipe so that a single individual would be able to do it. The whole process will take you about 2 hours. But that can be reduced if you select just one way to cook your jiaozi. In my case, and because my family has different taste than mine, I will cook them in two ways: Boiled and Fried.

7. Recipe for Fish Jiaozi – Fried and Boiled


7.1. Cooking tools:


To cook your perfect jiaozi, you will need: A cutting board, a small rolling pin, a big wooden board, a frying pan and a big boiling pot (or wok), a big skimmer and a knife (ideally a chinese chef knife). Check-out how to use the Chinese chef knife in my video.

7.2. Ingredients for the dough wrap:


▪️600g strong white flour
▪️280ml cold water
▪️One egg white
▪️2g salt

7.3. Ingredients for the filling:


▪️600g cod fillet, skinless and boneless, finely minced
▪️100g pork tenderloin or chicken breast also finely chopped
▪️200g garlic sprouts or Chinese garlic chives, cut in small pieces
▪️One egg yolk
▪️5 slices of ginger finely chopped
▪️2 table spoons of light colour soy sauce
▪️1 table spoon of:
– Dark colour soy sauce
– Oyster sauce
– Chinese rice cooking wine
▪️4 table spoons of sesame oil
▪️A Pinch of Chinese five spices powder
▪️A pinch of white pepper powder
▪️One tea spoon of salt

7.4. Cooking steps:

Making the dough

❣️ Add the egg white and salt into the flour. Then add the water little by little. Mix and knead the dough for 15 minutes until the dough is very smooth.

❣️ Cover the dough with the cling film and set aside for at least 30 minutes

Make the filling

❣️ Put the minced fish and meat together, add all the seasonings except the garlic sprouts or garlic chives.

❣️ Mix all with a big spoon and stir in one direction until you can feel the resistance. This will mean that they are not loose but tightly held together.

Prepare the wrap

❣️ After the dough has been set for 30 minutes, it should be very smooth and elastic.  Cut off one quarter each time and roll the dough into a long tail shape which is about 2.5cm diameter.

❣️ Cut the tail into pieces about 2cm long each, scatter plenty of dusting flour on the pieces to prevent them from sticking together.

❣️ One hand holds the dough and turn the dough in one direction, another hand holds the rolling pin and keep rolling the dough until it becomes a thin (2mm) circle shape about 8cm diameter.

You can check how to prepare your wrap here.

Fill the wraps

❣️ Mix the chopped vegetables into the filling right before you wrap the jiaozi.

Wrap the jiaozi

❣️ Put a lump of filling in the centre of the wrap, leave 1.5cm space on the edges.

❣️ Fold the wrap together into half circle shape, press the folding together in the middle first. Then tightly seal the wrap.

❣️ Remember to put enough dusting flour on the bottom of the jiaozi when you put them on the board. This will prevent them from sticking on that surface.

You can check how to wrap your jiaozi here.

Cook the jiaozis

Once you finished the folding, you can boil or pan fry the jiaozi.

a. Pan fry

🔵 Heat up the frying pan on medium low heat, add a bit oil to coat the bottom. Lay the jiaozis together from the edge of the cooking pan to the centre.

🔵 Cover the lid for about 3 minutes. After that, add 80ml cold water into the pan, then cover the lid immediately. You then cook for a further 8 minutes until the water is fully evaporated and you can hear a sizzling sound.  This will indicate that they are perfect and ready. Please do not open the lid during the cooking time, as you will release the steam out of the pan.  You need to keep the steam inside the pan to cook the jiaozi through.

🔵 Turn off the fire, take off the lid, cover the pan with a bigger plate, and turn the pan bottom up. The jiaozis will naturally fall into the plate.

Boiled dumplings/jiaozi
b. Boiled jiaozi

🔵 Boil plenty of water in a big pot or wok at high temperature.  Normally, I boil about 2.5 to 3 litters water for 40 jiaozis.

🔵 When the water is fully boiled, dump the jiaozis into the pot, gently stirring to prevent them from sticking together.

🔵 Cover the lid and wait until the water boils back again.

🔵 Add 100ml cold water, stir them and cover the lid again. Once more, wait until the water is brought to boil.

🔵 Repeat the process for a third time.

🔵 Remember to keep the heat at high temperature throughout the whole boiling process

🔵 Use the skimmer to take the jiaozis out of the water, and place on a big plate.

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