Although traditionally only served in Sichuan dishes, or at the very end of a meal in Szechuan dishes, dumplings have become very popular in many regions of China. The main reason is that they are inexpensive, easily made at home, and easily prepared for different tastes and occasions. The variety of dumplings has changed with time, but the original ingredients remain the same.
Dried pig feet are soaked in water and fermented. Then, the soup base is added, mainly meat or chicken stock, and left to ferment. It will then be strained to separate the solids, which are calling chow (pig’s feet), and the liquids, which are calling Jiang (mutton).
The Chinese term for this dish is da de, literally translated as dried dog’s feet, but it actually comes from the food shop on the street where the owner used to sell them. Other ingredients include meat, bones, bamboo shoots, bamboo florets, and even peppers.
Formation Of Pieces
The dried soup base is strained to allow Jiang to form into small pieces. A variety of dried meat is also added to the soup mixture, making up the bulk of the soup base.
After these ingredients are combined and strained, the soup base is stirred again and the pig’s feet are stirred to form them into round lumps. The soup base is strained again, adding more ingredients if needed, and allowed to ferment for another couple of hours, during which time the soup base slowly turns yellow in color.
The filling is the most important part of the dumpling and is also how you can distinguish one style from another. There are many different fillings available.
For example, you can get dumplings filled with ground pork or beef, with chicken, with egg, with shrimp, with vegetables, with beans, with tofu, with seafood, or with preserved lemons. You can also get the traditional soup base with whatever fillings you want.
Chinese dumplings come in many flavors. In some cases, the fillings make the difference between being good or not, depending on the dish.
The special style of dumplings is made of rice flour or cornstarch. It is cooked in water and flour. These dumplings are shallow and very small, roughly the size of a walnut.
The spring-fried style, also called Nong Yung, is deep-fried in hot oil and given a delicious coating of special sauces. In addition, there are other dumplings prepared in the form of skewered items such as dried fish, beef, or shrimp. It is also fried and drizzled with a special sauce.
The wonton dumplings, also called Chengdu style, are stuffed with filling and then covered with a light sauce, sometimes with seasonings. Some people call this a soup style. Dessert dumplings are known as curries and are often sprinkled with sugar and served with either syrup or fruit topping.
The most important difference between traditional and modern dumplings is the toppings that are used. Different fillings are often used for some styles, while others are just tossed together and served. In many parts of China, the cotton style is the most popular because of its adaptability and versatility.