Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jiao Zi - My Little Dumpling

I consider this to be the most important word in cuisine. The simple Chinese dumpling. It has many varieties, and many names, but jiao is the basic one. You will usually see it with at least one other character: either shui 水 (water/boiled) or zi 子 (little thing) or both 水餃子. Jiao zi 餃子 is pronounced jowd-zuh (first syllable low, the ending high). When the dumplings are pan-fried, they have a completely different name guo tie 鍋貼, or pot-sticker.

How to recognize: The left side of the character is the radical shi 食, and it means "food" or "eat". (We'll learn it soon.) It also kind of looks like a little vendor's cart or hut. The right side looks like a little guy in a wide brimmed hat, and it means something like "buy" or "exchange". So think of the guy as a little food vendor, and he sells dumplings out of his little food cart on the left.

They are boiled dumplings, so the sign over his cart says this:

The Pinyin spelling is jiǎo zi, jiao3 zi (third tone, neutral tone)

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