Chinese New Year Food For Good Fortune

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - February 02, 2011
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Usher in Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit, with these tasty and low-fat dumplings.

Dumplings are one of the major foods eaten during the Chinese New Year, and are thought to bring good fortune and wealth in the new year.

The history of the dumpling dates back some 500-600 years; China has been perfecting the art of dumpling making since the Sung dynasty.

Fillings and ways of serving vary by region in China. Fillings can be vegetable, meat, seafood or combinations of each and are usually mixed with chopped vegetables; sweet fillings also are used. The dumpling can be round or crescent-shaped, and can be prepared by steaming, boiling or frying. Wrappers can be made with a rolling pin, or hand-pressed.

Various authorities speculate on other origins of the dumpling because of the simplicity of the ingredients and preparation. Speculations include the dumpling having evolved in peasant cooking as an economical way of extending meat.

The Norfolk area of the United Kingdom as well as Germany are areas where dumplings became a staple dish. Dough was made of oats, wheat, potato or whichever was plentiful in the region of origin.

I use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which have about half the fat as compared to chicken thighs. You also may purchase ground chicken breast for ease of preparation. Make sure you buy ground chicken breast only, as the so called “lean” ground chicken has about 40 grams of fat in a 1 pound package of five servings, whereas 1 pound of chicken breast has only 10 grams of fat.

Kung hee fat choi!


* 1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, finely chopped in food processor
* 3 stalks Chinese cabbage, finely chopped
* 2 green onion tops, finely chopped
* 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
* 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger root
* 1 tablespoon low-sodium shoyu mixed with 1 tablespoon cornstarch
* 24 wonton wrappers

Combine chicken, cabbage, green onion, garlic and ginger until well-mixed. Add shoyu mixture and mix until combined.

For each dumpling, place about 1 tablespoon of chicken mixture in center of wonton wrapper. Moisten edges with water and fold into triangle shape, folding edges to hold in filling.

Place dumplings in steamer, cover and cook until they are firm and chicken is fully cooked, about 15-20 minutes.

Serve with hot mustard and shoyu or vinegar for dipping.

Makes 24 dumplings or six servings (four per serving).

Approximate Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 240 Fat: 6 grams Cholesterol: 80 milligrams

Sodium: 260 milligrams

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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