Chinese dumplings have been a staple in East Asian cuisine for centuries, delighting food lovers with their unique shapes, flavors, and textures. In this blog post, we will explore the world of traditional Chinese dumplings, delving into their history, various types, and common ingredients.
Whether you’re a newcomer to this delicious treat or a seasoned dumpling enthusiast, this guide will help you navigate the rich and diverse world of Chinese dumplings.
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Types of Chinese Dumplings
Gao are rice flour-based dumplings, typically served during the Lunar New Year. These sticky, translucent treats come in both sweet and savory varieties, often filled with ingredients such as ground meat, shrimp, or sweet bean paste.
They symbolize wealth and prosperity in Chinese culture, making them a popular choice for festive occasions.
Bao, which translates to “bun” or “package” in English, is a versatile dough made from wheat flour that can be steamed, fried, or baked. It’s often used as a wrapper for various fillings, ranging from savory meats and vegetables to sweet desserts.
One of the most popular types of bao is the char siu bao, a fluffy steamed bun filled with barbecued pork.
Jiaozi, pronounced “jow-zee,” are crescent-shaped wheat dough rolls with an opaque wrapper. Commonly filled with minced pork, cabbage, and scallions, jiaozi are typically served with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil.
Depending on the cooking method, jiaozi can also be referred to as shui jiao, zheng jiao, guo tie, or jian jiao when pan-fried.
Guo Tie, also known as potstickers, are a popular variation of jiaozi that are pan-fried until crispy on the bottom.
They often feature the same fillings as jiaozi, such as ground pork and vegetables, but have a slightly different texture due to the frying process. Guo Tie is usually enjoyed with a tangy, spicy dipping sauce.
Jian Jiao are similar to guo tie, but they are fried on all sides instead of just the bottom. This gives them a golden, crispy exterior that contrasts nicely with their tender, juicy filling. The same dipping sauces used for jiaozi and guo tie can also be enjoyed with jian jiao.
Potstickers are essentially the same as guo tie, but the name is more commonly used in Western countries.
These pan-fried dumplings are known for their crispy, golden bottoms and tender, flavorful fillings. Served with a dipping sauce, potstickers make for a delicious appetizer or main course.
Bao Zi is the general category for dumplings made with a thick, wheat dough resembling a bun. Char siu bao, filled with barbecued pork, is a common variation.
Other types include tangbaozi, which is filled with broth that is drunk through a straw; doushabao, filled with sweet red bean paste; and naihuangbao, filled with a sweet yellow custard. Nontraditional variations include pineapple, glazed mushroom, tofu, curried chicken, and bulgogi beef.
Char Siu Bao
Char Siu Bao is a popular type of bao zi featuring a fluffy, steamed wheat dough bun filled with flavorful barbecued pork.
These delicious dumplings are a staple in Chinese dim sum and can also be found at many bakeries and street food vendors across China and other East Asian countries.
Tangbaozi, also known as soup dumplings, are a unique type of bao zi filled with savory broth, usually alongside meat or seafood. The broth inside the dumpling is created by adding gelatinized stock to the filling, which liquefies when the dumplings are steamed.
To eat tangbaozi, diners typically use a spoon to catch any escaping broth and then sip it from the spoon or through a straw before enjoying the rest of the dumpling.
Sheng Jiang Bao
Sheng Jiang Bao are pan-fried buns filled with juicy pork and a flavorful broth. Similar to tangbaozi, the broth is created by adding gelatinized stock to the filling.
What sets sheng jiang bao apart is their thicker wrapper and crispy, golden exterior from pan-frying. They are a popular street food in Shanghai and other parts of China.
Xian Long Bao
Xian Long Bao, also known as xiao long bao or soup dumplings, are round, purse-shaped dumplings made with a relatively thick wheat wrapper that is crimped on top.
Filled with chopped cooked pork, collagen-rich pork trimmings, and occasionally crab, the collagen melts during steaming, forming a rich and savory broth. Like tangbaozi and sheng jiang bao, xian long bao are served as part of traditional Chinese dim sum brunch.
Doushabao is a sweet variation of bao zi filled with smooth, velvety red bean paste. The contrast between the mildly sweet dough and the rich, earthy red bean filling makes for a delightful dessert or snack that can be enjoyed at any time of day.
Naihuangbao is another sweet bao zi variation, featuring a soft wheat dough bun filled with a creamy, sweet yellow custard. The combination of the fluffy bun and smooth custard filling creates a satisfying, indulgent treat that is popular in both China and Hong Kong.
Xiao Long Bao
Xiao Long Bao, often referred to as soup dumplings, are similar to xian long bao, with a thicker, doughier wheat wrapper and a flavorful, collagen-rich broth inside. Served as part of traditional Chinese dim sum brunch alongside har gao and siu mai, these dumplings are a must-try for any food lover.
Soup dumplings, like tangbaozi and xian long bao, are a unique and delicious type of Chinese dumpling filled with savory broth. To enjoy these dumplings, diners typically use a spoon or straw to sip the broth before savoring the tender dough and flavorful filling.
Dim sum is a traditional Chinese brunch featuring a wide variety of small dishes, including many types of dumplings such as har gao, siu mai, and xiao long bao. This culinary tradition offers diners the chance to sample a range of flavors and textures, providing a true taste of Chinese cuisine.
Siu Mai are open-faced dumplings made with a thin wheat wrapper and filled with a mixture of ground pork, shrimp, and other ingredients. Steamed and often topped with fish roe or grated carrot, siu mai are a colorful and tasty addition to any dim sum spread.
Common Ingredients and Accompaniments
Chinese dumplings are often served with a variety of dipping sauces and accompaniments, including soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, chili oil, and more.
Additionally, fillings can vary greatly, with options such as ground pork, shrimp, vegetables, and sweet bean paste. With so many possibilities, there’s a Chinese dumpling out there to suit every palate.
Where To Try World Famous Chinese Dumplings
Whether you can travel to China or your local grocery store, here are a few options to try amazing Chinese Dumplings.
Wang Fu, Hong Kong, China
Known for its delicious and authentic Chinese dumplings, Wang Fu is a must-visit destination for dumpling enthusiasts.
Yang’s Fry Dumpling, Shanghai, China
Famous for their steamed dumplings, Yang’s Fry Dumpling offers a variety of fillings, including minced pork and crab meat with crab roe.
Xindalu China Kitchen, Shanghai, China
Another popular spot in Shanghai, Xindalu China Kitchen serves up a wide range of traditional Chinese dumplings.
A popular brand of frozen Chinese dumplings available in grocery stores, Wei-Chuan offers various flavors such as pork and cilantro, and Sichuan-style spicy pork dumplings.
These Japanese-style dumplings are a popular choice in grocery stores and are typically filled with pork or vegetable filling.
Wow Bao Bao Potstickers
Another popular brand of Chinese dumplings found in grocery stores, potstickers are usually filled with pork or vegetables and can be pan-fried or steamed.
Prime Food Mini Soupy Bun with Pork and Crab Roe
These frozen dumplings offer a delicious combination of flavors and are available in many grocery stores.
Gourmet Family Jumbo Pork Gyoza Dumplings
Made in the USA, these large dumplings have a delicious pork filling and can be found in many grocery stores.
3 Times Pan Fried Pork Dumplings
Available at the 3 Times branch in Union Square, these frozen dumplings are doughy, satisfying, and meaty.
Everest Himalayan Cuisine
This restaurant offers a variety of frozen Chinese dumplings from different brands, allowing customers to try a wide range of flavors and styles.
What are traditional Chinese dumplings called?
Traditional Chinese dumplings are called jiaozi.
How many types of dumpling are there?
There are numerous types of dumplings, varying in ingredients, preparation methods, and regional specialties.
What are Chinese fried dumplings called?
Chinese fried dumplings are called guotie or potstickers.
What are the best tasting dumplings?
The best tasting dumplings depend on personal preference, but popular options include xiao long bao, shumai, and har gow.
From the crescent-shaped jiaozi to the broth-filled xiao long bao, Chinese dumplings offer a diverse and delicious world of flavors and textures waiting to be explored. We hope this guide has inspired you to try some traditional Chinese dumplings for yourself and experience the rich culinary heritage they represent.