What is the Lunar New Year?
The Lunar New Year is one of the most celebrated holidays in Chinese culture. It marks the first day of the year in the Lunar Calendar, where celebrations generally run for 15 days. With each day comes a special meaning and traditions to honour, but this can vary between regions and cultures.
It’s important to note that the date of the Lunar New Year changes every year. For 2024, this will occur from 10th February until the 15th Day.
On the first day, many families will visit other family members, starting with the most senior members first. Firecrackers, dragon and lion dances occur to chase away the evil monsters, named Nian.
The remaining days are filled to the brim with festivities; families will visit relatives, friends and temples, whilst eating certain types of dishes in the hopes of a prosperous and hopeful new year. On the final fifteenth day, we end with the Lantern Festival, where people hang glowing lanterns in temples or carry them during a night time parade , marking the first full moon after the Lunar New Year, completing the celebrations.
The Chinese Zodiac Calendar
For many cultures, each year is associated with an animal from the Chinese Zodiac calendar. There are 12 animals in the Chinese Zodiac calendar, which are the following:
Here is the below list for the animals associated with the upcoming years:
- 10th February, 2024 – Year of the Dragon
- 29th January, 2025 – Year of the Snake
- 17th February, 2026 – Year of the Horse
The Year of the Dragon is associated with bravery, strength and luck. As a result, this Lunar New Year will be a time to celebrate Chinese traditions, eating rich cuisine and making wishes for a joyous new year.
Lunar New Year and Dumplings
Dumplings symbolise longevity and wealthy. This is because dumplings look like money pouches, which represent fortune and prosperity for the coming year. More so, dumplings are a great way to spend time with your family, as they are mixed by hand for a certain amount of time to ensure the meat is succulent and juicy. As a result, you can enjoy getting creative in the kitchen with relatives, sharing your appreciation for delectable foods and festivities to come.
In this recipe, we take on the classic Chinese dumplings with a ‘fiery‘ twist to represent the Year of the Dragon. We do this by using Maldon Chilli Sea Salt flakes, which provide a deliciously spicy, aromatic taste that works perfect with the pork meat.
If you like the ‘spicy‘ things in life, we recommend cooking up a few Chicken momos, paired with a beautiful tomato chilli chutney. However, if you are not too keen on the heat, why not whip up our pulled pork bao buns – they buns are so soft and fluffy.
If you are a vegetarian, you can swap out the pulled pork for sticky miso roasted aubergine that mimics the taste and texture of meat.
How to make Chinese dumplings
- Mix all sauce ingredients (except oil) in a bowl. Heat neutral oil to its smoking point – watch closely, it smokes quickly! – then drizzle sizzling oil over the sauce for a fiery kick.
- For the dumpling filling, place the pork, egg, chicken stock, cornflour, Maldon Chilli Sea Salt, sesame oil, shiitake mushrooms, birds-eye chilli and Chinese garlic chives in a large bowl. Mix vigorously for 2-3 minutes.
- Place a small teaspoon of filling into the centre of a dumpling wrapper, dab the edges with water and fold the wrapper over the filling. Pinch in the sides and squeeze to create pleats for a classic dumpling look.
- Then it’s up to you if you’d like to steam some or pan fry some but we’re doing both!
- Place your dumplings in a steamer. On high heat, add 2 cups of boiling water to a wok. Place your dumplings in the steamer, ensure they’re not overcrowded and steam for about 10-15 minutes on medium heat until they look glossy and cooked through.
- For that irresistible crispy bottom, heat a teaspoon of neutral oil in a non-stick pan, place your dumplings in the sizzling oil. Ensure not to overcrowd the pan. Once the bottoms are browned (takes 3-4 minutes), add the cornstarch slurry, cover with a lid (10-15 minutes) and cook until they’re cooked through.
- Once done, serve up your gorgeous spicy dumplings. Add a final pinch of Maldon Chilli Sea Salt and pair them with your spicy sizzling dumpling sauce!
- Happy Lunar New Year!
Recipe created by: https://www.instagram.com/ugcwithnav/
What to serve with Chinese dumplings
A great dish to serve with Chinese dumplings is a hearty chicken noodle soup. The soup is full of a rich, flavourful both and soft noodles that compliments the succulent dumplings perfectly. It’s the perfect way to turn your dumplings from an appetizer to a full meal!
Pairing your dumplings with a refreshing cucumber salad is a match made in heaven! The crispness from the cucumbers provides a wonderful contrast to the soft, warm dumplings.
Why not try using a delicious Chinese Curry sauce to drizzle on top of your dumplings. This sauce is very rich with a bundle of aromatic spices which offer a warm, slightly spicy flavour. You can find most pre-mixed brands in the best retailers, including Goldfish Chinese Curry Sauce.
Can I cook dumplings in an air fryer?
You can air-fry frozen dumplings very easily. Make sure to add an oil spray on top of the frozen dumplings so that they cook crispy and not come out dry. You want to make sure the outside stays nice and golden and cooked perfectly on the inside.
All air fryers cook differently, but we recommend a base time of 6-8 minutes on 380°F/193°C. Flip the dumplings over and continue to cook for another 2-6 minutes until crispy.
If you are wanting to cook Chinese dumplings in the air fryer from scratch, you will need to make sure that the dumpling’s filling is cooked first, especially if you are using meats like pork, chicken or beef. After you have cooked the filling, you can then proceed to making the dumplings following the above recipe, but instead of frying them, pop them in the air fryer for 6-8 minutes, turning them over and cooking for an additional 2-6 minutes until nice and golden.
Can you freeze Chinese dumplings?
According to Expondo, you can freeze dumplings depending on how you prepared them.
Raw dumplings can be stored in the freeze for up to 3 months, whereas cooked dumplings can only be stored in the freeze for 4 weeks. It’s important to note that the dumplings, raw or cooked, should not be touching each other. If they are touching, the dumplings will stick together into a large clump, and once thawed, will rip the dough – ruining the perfect parcel you have created.