jiǎozi (饺子) and bāozi (包子) are traditional Chinese dumplings. They are found all over China and symbolize wealth, good luck and prosperity
Little “restaurants” in China, some not bigger than the size of a standard room, serve traditional dumplings that are typically called jiǎozi (饺子) and bāozi (包子). jiǎozi typically consist of a ground meat and/or vegetable filling wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which is then sealed by pressing the edges together or by crimping. jiǎozi are one of the major foods eaten during the Chinese New Year, though in the northern provinces they are eaten year round. They look like the golden ingots yuan bao used during the Ming Dynasty for money and the name sounds like the word for the earliest paper money, so serving them brings the promise of wealth, good luck and prosperity.
Watch: History of jiǎozi and jiǎozi preparation process
Compared with jiǎozi, bāozi (包子) are a different type of dumplings; They are steamed, filled bun or bread-like dumplings, filled with either pork or with vegetables. The major difference between bāozi and jiǎozi is that bāozi are more round and their dough is thicker. Their taste is often quite different as well. Both jiǎozi and bāozi are served in small steamers, each consists of 10 pieces. Along with the dumplings, a small ceramic plate is provided for vinegar, soy sauce and/or spicy sauce.
The Snack: jiǎozi (饺子) and bāozi (包子).
The price: 5 RMB for 10 dumplings (Less than one US dollar).
Where: In local side street restaurants all over China.
Does it worth my time: ABSOLUTELY!
It is not unusual to see foreigners eating in one of the small, usually not very clean, “restaurants”, and Laowaiblog interviewed an American guy named Dan who happened to be at the restaurant: “I love jiǎozi and bāozi. I come here especially for that. Because I live just a few minutes away, I tend to stop here every time I see the basket stack outside.” The “basket stack” is a stack of round shaped ceramic dishes on which the dumplings are steamed. “When I first stepped in this place and smelled the scent of the food, I knew that I came to the right place. I can’t stop coming here ever since.”
jiǎozi and bāozi are eaten all year round and can be eaten at any time of the day – breakfast, lunch or dinner. They can constitute one course, starter or side dish, or the main meal. Every family has its own preferred method of making them, with favourite fillings, and of course, jiǎozi types and preparation vary widely according to region.