Sometimes the simplest ingredients come together more marvelously than you expect. This dumpling recipe from Sichuan province in China is one of them. My friend Carl Chu, a Chinese food expert and author, told me about the crescent-shaped dumplings, saying that I needed to check them out when I went to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. I put them on my hit list for this most recent trip to Asia.
Zhong jiaozi – the dumplings are named after their creator, a person named Zhong – were among the first things that we ate at a xiao chi (snack) joint located kitty corner from the Chengdu Sheraton. Frankly, they were not great. The dipping sauce was overly sweet and the filling lackluster.
I sampled one and moved on to the other dishes we’d ordered. But I’m obsessive about dumplings and kept thinking about the little plump crescents and how they could be made to taste really delicious.
Once home I poured through my books and realized that the filling was ridiculously straightforward. It’s basically flavored with lots of ginger-infused water, according to Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty cookbook.
The ginger that I saw at Chengdu markets were small relative to most ginger sold abroad. Given that, I decided to pump up the ginger. After a several trials and tinkering with the seasonings, I came up with the filling recipe below. It’s soft and wet so be sure to neaten it up as you shape the dumplings. Get fatty ground pork for the best flavor. And, stir/beat the filling to incorporate the liquid really well.