Friday, September 11, 2009

Homemade Gu Chai Guoi (Garlic Chive Dumplings) – May 25, 2009

Yes, this post is practically ancient history. I still want to write about it because making these from scratch is a big part of my childhood memories. This is a distinctly Dio Jiu dish.

One weekend, my grandmother’s garden was completely overrun with garlic chives, so my grandpa called everyone over to help make dumplings.

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The filling is made from chopped garlic chives (韭菜), salt, fried garlic oil, soy sauce, and an additive that prevents the garlic chives from turning brown after you steam the dumplings. After all of the ingredients have been combined, it is put in a strainer to rid it of excess water. Too much water in the filling will make the dumplings soggy.

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My mum is mixing the dough because she’s just about the only person in our family who is willing to do it. Traditionally, the dough contains glutinous rice flour, tapioca starch, oil, and hot water. After much experimentation, my mum figured out a way to make it with regular all-purpose flour, oil, and hot water, which is much cheaper than buying small bags of rice flour and tapioca starch.

Making the dough is difficult for newbies because the dough has to be mixed thoroughly and quickly. If this is done improperly, the dumpling skins will break easily or be too lumpy. And that would be dumpling fail.

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The dough is portioned into smaller balls. Then the balls are either rolled out flat (with a can of pop) or manipulated (by hand) into a cup-shape.

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I’ve only recently started helping with the wrapping part. Here’s one of my wrapped dumplings. The bottoms were a little too thick, but don’t they look the part?

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Because this is such a time-consuming food to make, we normally make this on the weekends when everyone comes over. Making this many dumplings doesn’t take long when we’ve got four or five pairs of hands to help out.

On this particular weekend, we had three generations making gu chai guoi (aka garlic chive dumplings, fun guo, Chiu Chow dumpling). It was a neat moment.

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These dumplings are steamed for about 15 minutes, and then they are quickly removed from the steamer. Each one is coated with a slick of vegetable oil, to keep them from drying out and sticking to each other, and piled onto a tray.

They’re best eaten immediately after being taken out from the steamer. I like to eat them with a squirt of soy sauce and a little bit of Sriracha sauce. Apparently, in Cambodia, these are eaten with sweet fish sauce instead of soy sauce.

Garlic chive dumplings are also a delicious breakfast after they’ve been lightly pan-fried the day after. However you want to eat these, they’re delicious and good for you (perfect for The Diet)! Although your breath suffers quite a bit… all that garlic….


  1. They look fabulous! Nice job.

  2. Thanks! It was hard work, but with lots of helping hands, it only took us a few hours that afternoon.

  3. I love your pics and instructions ... definitely a family secret as you just can't buy these anywhere ... my mum has tried to teach me numerous times but I haven't quite mastered it yet!

  4. Keep at it! You'll get the hang of it soon enough. Lucy didn't mention it, but you can freeze the dumplings after they've been steamed. You can either defrost them and reheat them in the microwave or simply pan fry it.

  5. Thank you for this recipe when I used to live in Montreal my friend's mom used to make this for us all the time, I have missed it so much now I can make my own, my friend's mom used to fry this for was the again thank you.


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