Original audio (translated transcript below):

Hello, everyone, it’s Kaycee here.


Last week we talked about some of the Chinese customs of gift giving and some of the etiquette at the table. Now that we’re talking about the table, how can we not talk about food? There are all kinds of food in Chinese food: snacks, southern food, northern food, traditional food and dark food. The beauty of food is not only in the colour and aroma of the food, but also in the moment of joy and admiration, the emotions, the memories, the healing. So we could probably talk about Chinese food for a thousand and one nights. Where do we start? Well, since it’s New Year again, let’s start with dumplings.


What are dumplings?
Everyone should know what dumplings are. It’s a dumpling made from a dough skin, wrapped in a variety of fillings and boiled in water. When they are cooked, they are ready to eat. It sounds very simple but, let me tell you, it is only after you have experienced it that you can understand the unique skill and art of making it. The process of making dumplings must not be underestimated.


How do you make the pastry? It is usually made by mixing cold water and flour together, kneading it into a large rough dough, covering it with a life-saving damp saran wrap or towel and leaving it for an hour or so. After an hour, take it out and cut it with a knife or by hand into small dough balls, which are then rolled out with a rolling pin. Make sure it’s thin but not too thin. If it is too thin, it will break easily during cooking. Once the crust is ready, you can wrap the filling in it. I personally prefer the leek filling, but there are many different kinds of fillings, from meat to vegetarian, sweet to savoury. Once they are all wrapped, you can cook them in water. Once cooked, they are ready to eat.


The dumplings are characterised by their thin skin, tender filling, delicious taste and unique shape. You will never tire of eating them.


The history of dumplings
Dumplings are a traditional Chinese food, originally called “Jiao Er”, and were first invented by Zhang Zhong Jing, the sage of medicine, during the Eastern Han Dynasty, more than 1,800 years ago.


As the saying goes, “When it’s cold, eat dumplings for the New Year”. I remember when I was a child, every New Year’s Eve, the more familiar relatives of my family would come to our house for dinner. We would watch the Spring Festival Gala, play mahjong, chat and so on. Then around 9pm or 10pm, my grandmother or grandma would lead us in making dumplings and we would be busy. The dumplings would be ready by midnight and the countdown would be on: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Happy New Year! Then we all sat down and ate dumplings. We hope that the new year will be a happy one for everyone, like the dumplings, and that the family will be reunited. How did this custom come about?


According to the literature, the custom of eating dumplings during the Chinese New Year was already present during the Ming Dynasty and became very widespread during the Qing Dynasty. In ancient China, each day was divided into twelve periods, and each day began with the hour of the son, which is equivalent to the time between 23:00 and 1:00 at midnight today, and at the end of the year, on New Year’s Eve, it was not just the change of the old and the new, but the change of the old and the new, which the Chinese call “jiaozi The Chinese call it “jiaozi”.


The Chinese are very conscious of boundaries, especially the boundary between the old and the new, and it is at this time that rituals are performed to pray for good fortune in the coming year. This is why the northern Chinese have slowly developed the custom of eating dumplings on the first day of the Lunar New Year, during the Spring Festival. For the Chinese, who cherish family ties, New Year’s Eve is a time when the snow falls silently outside the window, the light inside the house is warm and the pot is steaming. All thoughts and wishes are wrapped into the thin skin of the dumpling! The more the water boils over the red fire, the more delicious the dumplings become, accompanied by the firecrackers to welcome the new year.


Who knew that there was such a rich culture behind the delicious dumplings? This year’s Chinese New Year will fall on 25 January, so I hope you can prepare for making dumplings in advance.


Well, that’s it for today. We’ll see you next week.


To give you some dumpling-related sayings:
Out dumpling in door dumpling opening – revealing the filling
A blind man eats dumplings – he knows what he’s doing
A dumb man eats dumplings – he knows what’s in his stomach
Dumplings in a teapot – you have the goods in your belly
A dumpling in a teapot – you can’t pour it out

Also available on most major podcast platforms (e.g. Apple Podcasts / Google Podcasts / CastBox / etc.).

Short English Summary: In this episode, I talk about the history and culture of dumplings. In particular, the tradition of eating dumplings on or around midnight on Chinese New Year. This practise dates back to the 1600s (during the Ming Dynasty) and relates to how time was counted back then. Back in those times, units of time were measured by 2 hours at a time, so there would be 12 units of time in a day. The last unit of time would be 23:00-01:00. At the end of the year (and this would be the lunar year), the last unit of time would encompass the last hour of the previous year and the first hour of the new year. They called this cross over “交子” (jiaozi), which sounds like the Chinese name for dumplings (being “饺子”). The tradition was popular during the Ming Dynasty and has continued ever since.

哈喽,大家好,我是Kaycee。

上周我们讲了中国送礼物的一些习俗,聊到了餐桌上的一些礼仪。既然聊到餐桌怎么能不说说美食呢?美食的“食”,在中餐里就有各式各样的了,小吃,南方菜,北方菜,传统料理,黑暗料理。那美食的“美”不仅在于食物的色香味,还有入口中那一瞬间的欢喜和赞叹,那份情怀,回忆,治愈。所以说中国的美食我们大概能聊上一千零一夜。我们从哪里开始呢?那既然又要过年了,我们就从饺子下手吧。

什么是饺子?

大家都应该知道饺子是什么吧。就是用做好的面皮儿来包各种各样的馅儿,放在水里煮。煮熟之后就可以吃了。听起来非常简单但是,我跟你说,真的是经历之后才能懂得它独特的技巧和艺术所在。一定不能小看做饺子这个过程。

面皮怎么做呢?一般是把冷水和面粉搅拌在一起,揉成大的粗面团,盖上拯干的湿纱布或毛巾,放置一小时左右。一小时过后,把它拿出来,刀切或手摘成一个个小面剂子,将这些小面剂子再用擀面杖擀平。一定要薄薄的但是又不能太薄。太薄煮的时候就容易破碎。面皮儿做好了就可以把做好的馅儿包进去了。我个人还是偏爱韭菜馅儿的,不过馅儿的种类很多,可荤可素,可甜可咸。都包好了以后就可以下水煮了。煮熟了就可以吃了。

饺子的特点是皮薄馅儿嫩,味道鲜美,形状独特。吃起来,百食不厌。

饺子的历史

其实,饺子是中国传统食物,原名“娇耳”,是中国东汉时期,医圣张仲景首先发明的,距今已有一千八百多年的历史了。

俗话说得好,“大寒小寒,吃饺子过年“。我记得小的时候,每逢过年,家里比较熟的亲戚都会来我们家吃饭。看春节联欢晚会啊,打麻将啊,闲聊什么的。然后大概晚上9点,10点左右,我的奶奶或者姥姥会带领大家一起包饺子,忙得不亦乐乎。半夜12点之前煮好,等着时间倒数。10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1, 新年快乐!然后大家热闹的坐下来吃饺子。希望新的一年里大家,像饺子一样,都幸福美满,一家人团团圆圆。这个习俗是怎么来的呢?

据文献记载,春节时候吃饺子这种习俗在明朝已经出现,到了清朝,这种习俗已经非常广泛。这种习俗和中国古代的计时法有关,中国古代把每一天分为十二个时段,那么每天开始呢是子时,子时就相当于今天半夜二十三点到一点这个时间,那么到了每年的年底,年三十的时候,这就不仅是新旧两天的更替,而是新旧岁的更替,中国人管它叫“交子”。

中国人非常注意界限,尤其是辞旧迎新这个界限,那么在这个时候,应该搞一些仪式来祈求来年的吉祥如意。那么在这个时候吃饺子,饺子和这个“交子”正好是谐音,而且饺子还有丰富的寓意,吉祥的文化涵义,所以北方中国人才慢慢形成,在春节、在大年初一、在交子这个时刻,吃饺子这么个习俗。对崇尚亲情的中国人来说,在除夕夜里,窗外雪落无声,屋内灯光暖人,锅里热气腾腾。把所有的思念与祝福,都包进那薄薄的饺子皮!红红的火苗滚开的水,越煮越觉得有滋味,伴随着辞旧迎新的鞭炮,盛上饺子,也盛出了对来年美好的期望。

谁知道,好吃的饺子背后还有这么丰富的文化呢?今年的春节将落在1月25号,希望大家能提前为做饺子而做准备。

好,今天就到这里。我们下周见。

送大家一些与饺子相关的俗语

出门饺子进门面饺子开口——露馅了

瞎子吃饺子——心里有数

哑巴吃饺子——肚里有数

茶壶里煮饺子——肚里有货

茶壶里煮饺子——有口倒不出