Last year, the tally of trips taken by those visiting loved ones during Lunar New Year (aka Chinese New Year or Chinese Spring Festival) reached over 3 billion in China alone! That’s not even counting the millions of people traveling elsewhere in East Asia in places such as Vietnam, Korea, and Taiwan.
And I thought traveling the day before Thanksgiving was rough! All this to say, Lunar New Year is a big deal!
This year, Lunar New Year begins on February 16th. And I wanted to share one way for you to join in the celebration on your next date night.
New Year Dumplings
One food commonly associated with the New Year are jiaozi (sounds kind of like: gee-ow-zuh), which is Mandarin for dumpling. Unlike the heart shaped dumplings in my drawing this week, the typical crescent shape of a jiaozi symbolizes wealth, as they are shaped like sycee, a type of currency in imperial China. Not only are they delicious, they’re also easier than you might think to make, and fun to make together.
The go-to recipe in our house is Andrea Nguyen’s Pork and Napa Cabbage Dumplings.
One of her vegetarian recipes that also looks amazing is this one for Roasted Kabocha and Vegetable Dumplings. And if you’re gluten free, she’s done the hard work of figuring out the best GF wrapper recipe out there.
You should be able to find most, if not all, of the ingredients at your local grocery store. The only thing you might need is some Rice Wine and here is a helpful article about how to get your hands on some!
One other trick is to buy the jiaozi wrappers instead of making the dough yourself. We’ve done it both ways, and honestly, I love the outcome either way. If you have an Asian grocery store near you, pop in and find a package that looks something like this:
I got this package of about fifty perfectly sized jiaozi wrappers for $2. You can see there are lots of other brands in the background that would work too. Basically, as long as you come away with the round ones you’ll be golden.
The Crescent Fold
Here’s Andrea Nguyen again, demonstrating how to fold a dumpling. Give yourself some grace when learning. Once you get going, it becomes second nature. But even if they don’t look pretty, they’re still going to taste great, I promise.
How Do You Like Them?
Once you’ve got your batch of dumplings folded, they’re ready to prepare! You can steam them, boil them, or my favorite, pan fry them so they’re more like pot stickers. So pick what sounds best to you! (Here’s a primer on how to do each)
And the really great thing is, you’ll have enough for dinner and then some. So, make what you wish and stash the rest in your freezer to have dinner ready to go next time you don’t feel like cooking!
Xīn Nián Kuài Lè!
That’s Happy New Year to you! Hope it’s a good one for you and yours!
P.S. I think it’s amazing that almost every culture has some form of dumpling. A few years back NPR hosted Dumpling Week, a week of — yep! — dumpling themed programming. It might be fun to throw on the playlist in the background while you fold your dumplings!
P.P.S. For more podcast ideas that are more fun to listen to together, scroll all the way down and subscribe to the Date Night Notebook newsletter. I’ll send you a list of my favorites!
TOP ILLUSTRATION: ANNIE LIAO
JIAOZI PHOTO : ANDREA NGUYEN
PIN IT HERE!