A Nourishing Affair
Jing Gao expands the possibilities of Chinese cuisine—and the minds of those who may try to either define it or shy away from it. For more than a decade, the laudable cook and writer has been exploring the food of her native country through her various creative endeavors, which include an award-winning restaurant in Shanghai, world-wide pop-up dinners, and writing and TV contributions for global outlets. Most recently, Jing unveiled Fly By Jing, her collection of pantry staples that honor the flavors of her native Sichuan Province. The sauces—a Sichuan Chili Crisp (that’s always sold-out), Zhong Sauce, and Mala Spice Mix—offer a worldly convergence of flavors and feelings, heat and texture, stories and culture that transport you.
This week, Jing is sharing one of her special recipes with us on The Journal: Zhong Dumplings. A famous street snack in Chengdu, Zhong Dumplings have always been a favorite of Jing’s. “I can still recall taking my first bite at the age of five in a fly restaurant near my grandparent’s home,” she writes. “The chili oil dribbling down my chin, eyes wide at the indescribably delicious combination of juicy pork, sweet soy sauce, garlic, and sesame. I was hooked, and years later, it was that memory that brought me back to Chengdu to begin my journey of building Fly By Jing.”
This recipe is Jing’s “fool-proof, tried and true version” that honors the dumplings she’s long devoured. Put on a cozy House Cardi and make plenty of these at home to serve to yourself, to loved ones, to neighbors, to friends—and tuck in. Life is rich when there’s hearty food and warm memories. Our thanks to Jing for sharing her recipe.
'Ode to Chengdu's Zhong Dumplings' by Jing Gao
- 1 lb ground pork* (shoulder, belly - about 70% lean, 30% fat)
- 1 egg 1 tbsp ginger, finely minced
- 1 tbsp cooking wine like Shaoxing
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1 tsp salt ½ cup of water
- Handful sliced scallion greens
- 1 pack dumpling skins, preferably thin, potsticker skins
- Zhong Dumpling Sauce
1. Mix all ingredients until everything is thoroughly integrated.
2. Test out the meat mixture if you like by frying a little bit in a pan with oil. It should taste delicious and umami-rich with no other seasoning.
3. Now fold the dumplings. There are many techniques here. It truly doesn’t matter what your dumplings look like though as long as your shapes are fully sealed.
4. Bring some salted water to boil on the stove. Once boiling, drop dumplings in, making sure to gently stir right away with a spatula or utensil to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. Once the dumplings start to float, wait another 15 seconds and remove them from the water with a slotted spoon.
5. Serve with Zhong Dumpling sauce, and enjoy
* Jing says you can substitute any protein here, including shrimp, chicken, even firm tofu and veggies (they to be blanched and squeezed dry). Make sure to use about a pound of whatever you like and keep the proportions of all other ingredients the same. Recipe re-published with permission of Jing; originally seen here.