Dumplings are an integral component of Chinese culture and cuisine—the days-long procedure and arduous labor that go into traditional dumplings make each poppable one even more valuable than the gold ingots they're meant to represent in Chinese New Year festivities.
In Northern China, where wheat is more common than rice, family assemble over the holidays to wrap enough for the feast, catching up as they go.
However, with modern access to flour and emigrants scattered over the world, dumplings have become as popular a cuisine as any treasured traditional Chinese dish.
Serve with Shanxi mature vinegar—or gyoza, teriyaki, or soy sauce—to dip. If you want a little heat, add some chile crisp.
As a child, I used to watch in awe as my father and his cousin wrapped dumplings in the back area of our Chinese restaurant.
I adored the dull thunk of the giant Chinese cleavers as they cut long, fat tubes of snowy dough into scallop-shaped pieces with spongy, weak edges.
I remember how they used a wooden rolling pin to shape them into flawless discs while conversing in Mandarin, which I didn't understand.
My nose perked up with pleasure when I smelled the distinct aroma of seasoned pork (ground by my father) and Chinese chives from my mother's garden in the summer.