Steamed, deep-fried or simmered to perfection in a clear, savoury broth, the dumpling is a crowd pleaser that can be enjoyed in many forms. And indeed it has been.
From the courtly xiao long bao with its delicate folds to the hearty gyoza so deeply ingrained in Japanese tradition and a marker of comfort and homeliness, dumplings are the definition of all-occasion food. Equally enjoyed as part of a ceremonial banquet as it is as a fuss-free snack.
Found in almost every type of cuisine, these compact treats are adored around the world and with an origin that dates back to the Han Dynasty, it’s no surprise that the humble dumpling has a history that is as rich and diverse as the varieties it comes in.
Here are several fun facts you should know about the dumpling.
Dumplings are Responsible for The Wealth of One of China’s Richest Men
With an estimated net worth of $1.6 billion Chen Zemin is the co-founder of Sanquan Foods in China and dumplings are largely responsible for his fortune. Previously a surgeon who enjoyed experimenting and tinkering with electrical appliances and cooking, Chen developed and eventually patented a method for freezing sweet rice balls (tangyuan) without damaging their texture and flavour. A second patent that prevented the rice balls from getting freezer burn soon followed, thus giving the world its first ever frozen dumpling in 1991. Today, these frozen, instant dumplings are a staple in every Chinese household during the Winter Solstice festival and Sanquan Foods is regarded as a pioneer in frozen foods across China.
Different Fillings Carry Different Meanings
Traditionally, dumplings are stuffed with pork, seafood and veggies such as chives, cabbage and mushrooms. As food plays a massive symbolic role in Chinese culture, it comes as no surprise that each filling is associated with a significant meaning. The staple ingredient of chives is meant to reflect everlasting health, harmony and happiness; mushrooms symbolise longevity whilst cabbage is associated with good luck. A fish filled dumpling signifies abundance while eating beef filled dumplings is believed to bring financial growth due to the association of the bull with its qualities such as strength and power.
Gyoza was Invented to Treat Frostbitten Ears (Maybe)
The true history of how gyozas were invented is still a mystery, however it has given birth to a variety of theories. One of our favourites (and the most popular one) is that gyozas were invented by a Chinese medicine practitioner named Zhang Zhongjing as a remedy for frostbitten ears in AD250220. Zhang believed this was due to poor nutrition and a lack of warm clothing amongst the poor in China and would fill dough wrappers with a mixture of boiled lamb, peppers and various other medicines. He would serve these dumplings known as jiaozi to his patients and this recipe was soon adopted across China. This spread to Japanese soldiers in China during World War II who upon returning to Japan, tried to recreate jiaozi and eventually gave birth to what we now know as gyoza.
Dumplings Have a Place in Tech Culture Too! 🥟🥟🥟
The dumpling was approved as part of Unicode 10.0 and added to Emoji 5.0 (🥟) in 2017 thanks to Yiying Lu. Lu, a graphic designer for names such as Microsoft and Disney, spent two years trying to initiate the dumpling into the emoji lexicon. Her collaboration with friend, journalist and fellow dumpling enthusiast Jennifer Lee led to them forming their own collective called Emojination, launching a kickstarter campaign and eventually becoming members of the Unicode Consortium i.e the gatekeepers of emoji. Finally in October 2017, Lu’s design was approved and the dumpling along with the familiar Chinese takeaway container, chopsticks and the fortune cookie were inducted into Emoji 5.0.
Order Delicious Dumplings Online At UrbanFindr
Here at UrbanFindr, we partner with some of Singapore’s most exciting F&B players to help you discover and order from a wide range of restaurants; and if all this talk has got you thinking about these bite-sized goodies, our recommendations below are just the thing to get your dumpling fix sorted.
Ugly Dumplings & Fried Rice. Order succulent and hand-made jiaozi that come in a variety of flavours and bundle sizes. Perfect for anytime snacking!
Gyoza no Ohsho. You can’t go wrong with traditional gyoza. Find them here along with an extensive selection of Japanese rice sets, noodle dishes and appetisers.
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