The Chinese New Year: Recipes For Luck & Prosperity

The Chinese New Year has arrived: the year of the Horse. While tradition includes cleaning house, ridding your space of bad luck and decorating in red; a color which symbolizes good luck and fortune… families also celebrate the New Year with “lucky” foods, which are served through the first two weeks of the year. The New Year celebration is also called the Spring festival. Think of it as Spring cleaning, sweeping out the bad and welcoming the good. 

So, what foods are lucky in the Chinese culture? Let’s start with the dumplings. Jiaozi dumplings represent family reunion, wealth and prosperity. Because of their crescent shape, they resemble the ancient Chinese money (silver ingots). Traditionally, northern Chinese families prepare the dumplings together and eat them at midnight. One lucky member of the family may find a gold coin inside. For the New Year, try your hand at these lucky dumplings…

What you need:

  • Jiaozi dough:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • up to 1 1/4 cups cold water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Filling:
  • 1 cup ground pork or beef
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 TB Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper, or to taste
  • 3 TB sesame oil
  • 1/2 green onion (spring onion), finely minced
  • 1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
  • 4 tablespoons shredded bamboo shoots
  • 2 slices fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

What to do:

Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to form a smooth dough. Don’t add more water than is ncessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients. Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine and white pepper to the meat, stirring in only one direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well.

To make the dumpling dough: knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter.

Place a small portion (about 1 level tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumplings.

To cook, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don’t stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. Drain and remove. If desired, they can be pan-fried at this point.

Recipe courtesy of

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