These famous small turnovers filled with meat and/or vegetables were born in the northeast of China a little more than 1,800 years ago. They were called jiaozi also known as wontons or Peking ravioli. Jiaozi consists of pasta dough, wrapping a stuffing that may be composed of different ingredients like pork, beef, shrimp or vegetables.
A Chinese proverb says: “Of all the dishes, jiaozi is the King”. The ravioli which has a special status in China, is almost always served at festive meals and especially on the Chinese New Year’s Eve meal also known as “Spring Festival”. In China, jiaozi symbolizes fortune and it is customary to prepare them shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve and eat at midnight upon the beginning of the New Year. The Chinese then consume jiaozi, standing while exchanging wishes of prosperity and happiness.
Chinese ravioli emerged in Europe in 1875 as an Italian restaurateur returned to his native Rome after a long journey in China. He adapted the recipe to the habits and tastes of his customers and so the famous Italian raviolis that we regularly find on our plates were born. Raviolis are also very popular in Northeast Asia (Korea and Japan).
In some villages in the North of China, it is said that the jiaozi have rejuvenating miracles virtues… Ladies: Got Jiaozi? 😉
Recipe of Jiaozi
Ingredients (for 50 pieces)
For the pasta dough
- 1 lb flour
1 cup cold water (approximately)
2 pinches of salt
For the stuffing
- A few rehydrated Chinese mushrooms, e.g. wood ears
A handful of fresh bean sprouts
1 carrot, shredded
1 lb ground beef
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 piece of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 bunch of cilantro
Mix the flour and salt. Add a little water and form homogeneous dough, not too soft. Do not add more water than necessary.
Let the dough rest at least 45 minutes covered with a cloth in a dry place.
Generously flour dough. Roll it in the pasta machine (ravioli position) and form very thin and wide strips that you will need to cut with a square cookie-cutter (ideally about 4 x 4 inches).
Slightly brown some green onions in a little oil and then add the stuffing ingredients in the order indicated above. Cook at high temperature just enough time to reduce the liquid, stirring constantly.
Stuff raviolis (stuffing must be cold) and place them on a floured surface.
To close the raviolis, you can use beaten egg white or floured water.
Three cooking modes are possible:
Steamed (called zhēngjiao)
You can choose to consume the jiaozi by themselves or in a broth of meat or chicken.