Perhaps one of the most popular dishes the Chinese are known for is the dumpling. Practically everyone knows it, and practically everyone has tried it. But have they really?
Have you really?
The truth is that someone saying they’ve tried dumplings is just as generic as someone saying they’ve tried cake — but did you have a chocolate chiffon cake or a blueberry cheesecake? Likewise, were the dumplings you ate steamed and savory, or were they boiled and sweet?
The world of Chinese dumplings is definitely one to explore and indulge in. To help you embark on your culinary journey, we’ve prepared a short guide of some of the most common dumplings that you must try:
1) Jiaozi (餃子)
Known as potstickers in the Western world, jiaozi is probably what you’re referring to when you say you want dumplings. Jiaozi is generally composed of ground meat and vegetables wrapped in a thinly rolled piece of dough. The different types of jiaozi are categorized according to how they are cooked: zhengjiao or 蒸饺 (steamed), shuijiao or 水饺 (boiled), guotie or 锅贴 (pan-fried), and tangjiao or 汤饺 (submerged in soup).
2) Siomai / Shaomai (烧卖)
Another dim sum favorite is shaomai, which is an open-topped dumpling stuffed with ground shrimp or pork and garnished with fish eggs, mushrooms, or vegetables. The Cantonese dish, known colloquially as siomai, has become so popular in the Philippines to the point where it has evolved into a streetfood variant, which is paired with a classic combination of soy sauce, chili-garlic oil, and calamansi.
3) Hakaw / Xiajiao (蝦餃)
Literally meaning “shrimp dumpling,” xiajiao is considered to be one of the Four Heavenly Kings (四大天王) of Cantonese cuisine, alongside shaomai, cha siu bao, and egg tarts. It is known particularly for its light and delicate flavors, as well as for its translucent “crystal” skin.
4) Xiao Long Bao (小笼包)
Did you know that xiao long bao isn’t actually filled with soup? This popular Shanghainese delicacy is the delicious result of steaming meat and collagen-rich pork trimmings inside a thick pouch of dough. After cooking, the collagen melts and becomes a thick burst of umami-rich flavor that always leaves diners wanting for more!
5) Tangyuan (汤圆)
Unlike all the other dishes on this list, tangyuan is meant to be eaten as a dessert. Using dough made of glutinous rice flour and water, this round dumpling can be stuffed with a variety of sweet fillings such as sesame paste, red bean paste, chocolate paste, chopped peanuts, and fruit preserves, among others. Tangyuan is traditionally served in syrup or hot water.