JIAO ZI (CHINESE DUMPLINGS) with Watercress, Celery, and Shiitake

I first shared this recipe two Lunar New Years ago, but because so many have continued to ask for it, and since we are celebrating the Lunar New Year season later this month, it feels fitting to include it again.

Here’s a version that my maternal father’s line, have been making (and eating) for as long as we can all remember. The dumplings are called ‘jiaozi’, as it sounds like a word meaning ‘bidding farewell to the old and ushering in the new.’ in Chinese. Dumplings are always made before midnight and eaten during the last hour of the old year and the first hour of the Lunar New Year. In very old traditions, some like to wrap a one-yuan, fifty-cent or ten-cent coin in some of the dumplings, as a token of good fortune for those who eat them. This is said to ensure good luck and prosperity in the New Year. (It would mean that eating is done with presence and caution, and is definitely not recommended if children will be partaking in the feast).

Dumpling Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 bunch of green onions
  • 2 cups of shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cup of firm tofu
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup celery
  • 1 cup watercress
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 3 tbsp tamari / soy sauce
  • 1 cup clear vermicelli (mung bean noodles), pre-cooked
  • 1 tbsp ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp ground white pepper
  • ~55 round dumpling wrappers
  • all purpose flour, for dusting
  • large pot of boiling water

Dipping sauces:

  • Option 1: 2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar 1 tsp finely julienned ginger
  • Option 2: 2 tbsp tamari / soy sauce 1/2 tsp filtered water 1 tsp finely chopped garlic


  • Add all items into a food processor and chop it up until it resembles a coarsely chopped mixture.
  • Pour out excess liquid – reserve for a separate use.
  • Then assemble one dumpling for testing: spoon about 1 tbsp of filling onto a wrapper.
  • Brush water around the edges of the wrapper and pinch edges to seal.
  • Gently place in pot of boiling water and boil for ~4 minutes or until cooked.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  • If you find it’s not salty enough, proceed with adding sea salt instead of tamari / soy sauce so as to not make the filling even wetter.
  • Assemble a subsequent dumpling with adjusted filling and cook as above.
  • When taste of dumpling is satisfactory, then proceed with assembling remaining dumplings, being careful to dust each dumpling with some flour so they don’t stick to a resting surface or to each other.
  • Cook in same fashion as above.
  • Serve with choice of dipping sauce. (Or make both sauces!)

Wishing you a gentle, sweet, and prosperous year of the Water Rabbit!

Animist spirit medium