Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Boiled Dumplings or Shuǐjiǎo (水餃) for a Happy Lunar New Year!

This post is part of a Lunar New Year post by Butterfingers!

Shuǐjiǎo is one of the dishes traditionally eaten during Lunar New Year (also called Chinese New Year) in Taiwan. This is because the shape of these dumplings resembles the shape of golden ingots used in ancient China as currency. So the general belief is, as you are eating these on New Years Eve, you are eating yourself rich! Eating and getting rich at the same time? What's not to like?

About nine years ago during the time of Lunar New Year, I arrived in Taiwan with stars in my eyes and my life reduced to 20kg in my backpack. I was taken by the principal of the kindergarten I was going to teach at to a small rural town called Pushin. The place was a virtual ghost town as it was slap bang in the middle of Lunar New Year and most of the businesses where closed for the whole week.

I probably would have died of hunger, had it not been for this principal, who took me to a dumpling shop in my neighbourhood and introduced me to Shuǐjiǎo. This is a delicious dumpling with exactly the same ingredients as fried dumplings. Instead of frying them, they are boiled to perfection then served with a divine dipping sauce that strikes the perfect balance between salty, sour and spicy.

This year I'm spending my Lunar New Year with my "adopted" family, high up in the mountains of Yilan, on the east coast of Taiwan. These dumplings will definitely feature on the menu of our family feast. Gong xi fa cai!

Shuǐjiǎo (水餃)
Makes 20

Dumpling wrappers (Makes 20)

To see the ingredients and method, click here.

Dumpling dipping sauce (Makes about 125 ml)

To see the ingredients and method, click here

.Shuǐjiǎo (水餃)

These dumpling are made the same way as Fried Dumplings, click here.


  1. Fill and fold the boiled dumplings the same way as the fried dumplings. This time round just make sure that the edges are sealed well as to prevent the filling from boiling out.
  2. Boil plenty of water in a large pot. Add the dumplings to the water and allow water to come up to a boil again.
  3. When the water starts to boil again, add one cup of cold water to the pot.
  4. As soon as the water boils again and the dumplings float on the surface, remove them with a slotted spoon. Serve immediately with the dumpling dipping sauce.

Easy Chili Con Carne

This Chili Con Carne is super easy to make and is rich and comforting. It is also ideal for when you are having friends over. You can make it a day in advance and just reheat it. It also freezes very well.

This is my adaptation of Nigella Lawson's recipe from her book, Feast and is also available on her website.

Easy Chili Con Carne
Serves up to 10 hungry people.


  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • dash of olive oil for frying
  • 2 tsp ground chili, or to taste (I use 3 tsp and it is still quite mild)
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 5 cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1.5 kg minced beef
  • 4 x 400 g chopped tomatoes
  • 8 Tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 8 Tbsp tomato puree (or 4 Tbsp tomato paste)
  • up to 1 cup of water
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa (not sweetened!)
  • 2 x 400 g cans of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed with fresh water.
  • salt to taste

  1. Heat a dash of oil in a large saucepan and saute the onions and garlic until it starts to soften. Add the chili, coriander, cumin and cardamom to the onions and stir well. (Medium heat)
  2. Add the minced beef to the saucepan and brown it as well as you can. Take care to break up any lumps.
  3. Now add in the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, tomato puree and a little water and stir well to make a rich, red sauce. Tip in the rinsed, drained kidney beans and give a good stir. Check the consistency and add a little water if it looks too dry.
  4. Bring the saucepan up to a boil. Sprinkle the cocoa powder over and stir it well.
  5. Turn the heat to low, cover the saucepan halfway with a lid and let it simmer slowly for 1 and a half hours. Stir every now and then.
  6. Serve the chili piping hot with corn tortillas, tacos or even rice. A good grating of cheddar cheese and a few coriander leaves makes all the difference. You can also add a dollop of sour cream and some tomato salsa or guacamole on the side.