Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

INTRODUCTION

This is  a type of Chinese pot stickers with chives as the primary ingredient. It is a common street  snack that were sold especially in Northern China and Chinese may eat this as snack or as main meal.  Though it can be easily found in street alleys, it has become common that restaurants also selling this. I get to know this delicious pot stickers when i am stationed in Changchun in the Jilin Province.

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

“韭菜盒子是中国北方地区陕西、山西等地非常流行的汉族小吃,在有些地区也是节日食品。一般选春季头刀韭菜和鸡蛋为主要原料加工制作而成的食品,适宜于春季食用。该制品表皮金黄酥脆。馅心韭香脆嫩,滋味优美,是适时佳点。” (http://baike.baidu.com/view/18670.htm)

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

In the market, the pot stickers are usually not pleated. They just fold and seal the edges. However, to make it prettier, most restaurants has started to pleat the edges and it looks very much like our curry puffs here. It should be noted that the shape need not necessary in the curry puff shape. Some has just fold into a rectangular shape. As for the size, it can be as big as a plate or as small as the size of soon kuih in Singapore. Therefore, this recipe is free and easy and in this illustration, I need to eat 3 pieces to substitute for a meal. It is the size of half a medium bowl. Some are big as only one pot dumpling enough for a meal.

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

This recipe is using cooked dough method. Note that cooked dough is not only applying to Pandan chiffon cake, Chinese cooking has this traditional method all this while. In fact, even tangzhong method is considered as a cooked dough method.

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

In mandarin, cooked dough method is called “烫面法“. Ask any Chinese pastry professional or even experience home cooks, they will know this method besides the cold water dough (冷水面) or warm water dough (温水面)。 What is so specially about this cooked dough method? Cooked dough method yields less springy but softer dough. It is easier to eat  and become crispy. The gluten in the wheat flour has already been broken. Unsure if you are aware, at times,  some type of Chinese pastries like spring onion pancake can be very chewy if it is not properly prepared.

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

To get cooked dough for softer texture, you will need to add hot boiling water (80 degree Celsius to 100 degree Celsius) to normal plain flour. When the hot water is added, the gluten will be broken and starches start to solidify . These starches are the starches found in wheat flour and commonly called wheat starch (澄面粉)。 Once you start to knead the dough, it will not be as elastic as cold water dough because the glutens are very short . The dough with be stickier but yields very soft dough. There is one step that you cannot omit, the dough need to be “rested”, meaning you need time to let water to penetrate the gluten structure or flour have adequate time to absorb the water. The longer it is rested, the softer it will be . Once the dough has “rested and relaxed” become a soft dough, all your handling will have to be light and do not knead the dough any more. If you kneaded the dough, you will have to let it rest again until it becomes soft again probably in another 1/2 to1 hour.

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

To me, this recipe is not difficult. Pardon me to be not humble to say that I like this dumpling very much and I have eaten 4 today. I absolutely have no complaint be it the dough or the filling. With the addition of glass noodles and scramble eggs, the fillings is very delicious. Unlike the Teochew koo chai kuih where the chives all stuck together and difficult to chew, with these two additional ingredients, the texture is totally different as eggs and glass noodles help to segregate the chives from sticking together.

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)


WHAT IS REQUIRED

Servings: About 10 medium size chives pot stickers

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

  • 300 grams of all purpose flour or plain flour
  • 150 grams or ml of hot boiling water
  • 30 grams or ml of cold water
  • Pinches of salt

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

  • 200 grams of chives
  • 100 grams of minced pork (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of baby shrimps
  • 1 bundle of glass noodles
  • 3 eggs

Seasonings:

  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon of cooking oil or lard
  • 1 teaspoon of chicken powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon of white or black pepper powder

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)


STEPS OF PREPARATION

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

  • In a mixing bowl, put the all purpose flour, add the hot boiling water, use a pair of chopsticks to stir until it forms some crumble like dough. Gradually add the cold water (you may or may not need to add all the cold water). Use hand to knead until it form a pliable dough. Note that the dough can be sticky but it is okay but do not add in any flour at this stage. It need not to be overly smooth too.

  • Cover the dough with a piece of wet cloth or clingy wrap and let it rest for at least one hour at room temperature. If time permit, you can let the dough rest for 2-3 hours for maximum result to facilitate the shaping later. The dough after resting are expected to very soft and nice to touch and shall not be as sticky as when it is prepared.

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

  • While the dough is resting, prepare the filling as follows.

  • Soak the glass noodles in hot water until soft. Use a scissor to cut until small chunks. Set aside.

  • Soak the baby dried shrimps, drain and set aside.

  • Wash the chives, drain and cut into 1 cm pieces. set aside.

  • Crack the eggs, pan fried with some oil until scrambled eggs form.

  • In a mixing bowl, add the minced meat, scrambled eggs, chives, baby dried shrimps and glass noodles. Add black/white pepper powder, pinches of salt, chicken stock powder, sesame oil and cooking oil. Use a pair of chopsticks to stir until well mixed in the same direction.  Set aside.

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

  • Once the dough is adequately rested, it should be a very soft dough and all subsequent actions shall be handle lightly and avoid any kneading. Lightly dust the work surface with some plain flour, divide the dough into 10 equal pieces.

  • Take a piece of dough, lightly shape round, use a rolling pin to roll until as thin as possible (1-2 mm thickness) in the shape of a circle or oblong shape. Put 2-3 tablespoons of filling on the centre of the rolled dough. Seal the sides of the dough and use hand to pleat your desired pattern. Pleating is optional but you have to ensure that the dough is properly sealed. If it refused to stick together, just wet the sealing part of the dough with some water.

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

  • Once the first piece is ready, you can start to pan fry the dumpling and while pan frying, you can do the second piece as pan frying can take quite a bit of time. For pan frying, you have two choices: either pan fry the dumpling in a non stick pan without oil (干烙)or  you can add some oil to have the dumplings shallow pan frying (油煎). Shallow pan frying will yield a more aromatic and crispy crust.

  • Pan fry the dumplings for 3-4 minutes for one side under medium to low heat or until golden brown, flip over to pan fry the other side until golden brown. Best served warm after pan frying.

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)


CONCLUSION

This can be a main meal or a snack. Some of the variations are without meat  and feel free to adjust the filling recipe. In fact some recipes does add firm bean curd too.  As for the size, you can decide yourself and don’t be discouraged by the pleating. It is not necessary and as long as the fillings is covered by the dough in any shape, it can be called as 韭菜盒子 or literally translated as “chives boxes”.

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

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Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)


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Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

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Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

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Traditional Chinese Snack– Pan Fried Chives Pot Stickers aka Chives Boxes (韭菜盒子)

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