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Dumplings are delicious pockets of rich, savory flavor. And for many of us, they’re not just a delightful part of a meal, but also a sentimental dish that reminds us of home.
There are so many different types of dumplings out there. Each of them has their own unique folds and flavors. Poland has the pierogi, and Italy has ravioli, but China has a whole army of dumplings!
Read on to find everything you need to know about dumplings and the stories behind them.
There are so many different types of dumplings out there. This is, by no means, a comprehensive list of all the dumplings out there.
Jiaozi dumplings are probably the most recognizable and popular dumplings from China. They have a beautiful crescent shape with a carefully folded crease across the top. Jiaozi are commonly filled with savory fillings consisting of minced meat, tofu, eggs, and vegetables.
This dumpling goes by a slightly different name depending on how it’s cooked. “Shui jiao,” for example, roughly translates to “water dumpling.” This means they’re boiled.
“Zheng jiao” is steamed jiaozi, and “Guo tie” is pan-fried. Although there are a lot of different cooking methods, what makes jiaozi is its iconic shape.
Jiaozi are also incredibly popular for the new year. Their shape roughly resembles the gold ingot, a form of currency during the Ming Dynasty. In Chinese tradition, jiaozi is a symbol of wealth and prosperity, so they are commonly eaten to ring in the new year with a hope for financial blessing.
Another type of dumpling is har gao. They are a Cantonese variety of dumplings that closely resembles jiaozi, but there are some key differences.
Both dumplings are folded in a crescent shape, but the dough used to make the har gao wrappers often contains tapioca, allowing the dough to be flexible. Har gao also tends to be quite plump compared to jiaozi.
Har goa dumplings are usually steamed and filled with shrimp. So they have an almost translucent, white wrapper once they’re finished.
Har gao is a popular staple of dim sum, which is a meal made of small plates that is usually accompanied by tea. It’s common to have three or four har gao served still in the steaming basket, hot, fresh, and ready to eat.
Siu mai is another popular dim sum dumpling that is also usually steamed, and filled with pork and shrimp.
However, siu mai is wrapped a little differently, though. They’re tiny spheres with an open top. And that open top is often filled with a topping of crab roe for color and flavor.
You can buy delicious siu mai premade or you can make them yourself.
Sheng jian bao, or directly translated as raw fried buns, is an incredibly popular street food dish in Shanghai. It’s very similar to xiao long bao.
The first thing that sets sheng jian bao apart is the dough. The dough is semi-leavened, so the wrapper ends up being fluffy on the inside, making for an entirely different texture than the dumplings we’ve talked about already.
The filling is savory pork and green onion with a soup texture. Picture crispy potstickers, soup dumplings, and fluffy bread combined! One bite will awaken your taste buds with all the different textures and rich umami flavor.
Xiao long bao, the broth-filled steamed pork dumplings, are very similar to sheng jian bao. What makes xiao long bao different from other types of dumplings is its super delicate skin that’s thin and elastic, yet soft and almost transparent. They are both filled with that delicious gelatin that turns into soup when cooked.
The main difference is that xiao long bao are steamed instead of pan-fried. Xiao long bao is probably the most famous variety throughout the world, but you won’t find it in street carts too often because the steaming process takes a bit longer.
So, to recap, the differences in dumplings come from a variety of factors, such as its cooking methods, the type of dough, the fillings.
And, of course, the origin of dumplings matters too. Different regions and cultures bring different styles of cooking to the table, and that will subtly, or definitively, change the dumpling.
Generally, you can fill your dumplings with whatever ingredients you desire. What goes inside is far less important than you enjoying your dumpling creations, so experiment with ingredients you enjoy!
Ground pork is a common filling in dumplings, due to its rich, savory, tender, and delicious flavor. The higher fat levels make the dumplings delightfully juicy and flavorful with every bite.
Beef is another great option. It’s full of protein and compliments many different flavors out there. It goes great with soy sauce, garlic, and ginger, so if you like beef, absolutely add it to your dumplings.
Chicken is another great option as well. Ground chicken is lean and healthy, but also full of flavor and rich umami. Chicken also pairs well with cilantro and green onions..
Seafood is incredibly popular in Asian cuisine, and shrimp is no exception.
Filling your jiaozi with veggies is always a good option. Delicious marinated tofu is a great choice, or you could fill your har gao with minced cabbage, carrots, and green onions.
Wontons and dumplings are balls made out of dough. When dumplings are filled inside with some specific filling, they can also be called wontons. However, wontons use a thin type of wrapping that is similar to potstickers in thinness and texture than dumplings.
Dumplings are absolutely delicious, and there are so many fantastic varieties to choose from. Now that you know all the different types, you can order your favorites when you go out to eat or experiment in your own kitchen.
If you want to buy delicious dumplings or buy high-quality Asian groceries delivered straight to your door, check out Umamicart! We’ll help guide you on your next dumpling journey right from the comforts of your own home!
Good Luck Dumplings for the Lunar New Year | Kaiser Permanente
A Guide to 25 Types of Dumplings and Homemade Dumplings Recipes | MasterClass
Shēng Jiān Bāo – Pan-fried buns – 生煎包 | MOVABLE FEASTS
Siu Mai | You, Food and the City | Local and Global Food Networks
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