Here are the steamed "jiaozi" we had in Beijing at No 63 Ganmian Hutong. I've never had any like them before. There were 3 of us and we stuffed ourselves to the brim with these for only SGD$4. No... not SGD$4 per person... SGD$4 for 3 people. Ok... I don't eat much but Little Boy sure does and he sure ate, and ate, and ate.
It's a tiny shop hardly 3m by 4m in size, with tiny tables arranged wherever there was space. The kitchen was kinda blackish with long years of grime and a quiet and friendly couple do everything.
The "jiaozi" were just the right size, and the filling was juicy and soft without being mushy. The skin was al dente. The whole thing came straight from the steamer, piping hot. You dip the whole envelope into black vinegar and put it into your mouth. I am quite sure your tongue will kowtow to you 9 times in gratitude for the experience.
I was so inspired by these dumplings that I made my own. They looked simple enough. Minced and seasoned pork... dough skin... What can go wrong?
Well... for one, I thought bigger was better so my dumplings were rather large. The Daughter commented that it felt like eating pillows. Next, I thought very al dente was better so my dumplings had very thick skins. The Husband commented that it was like chewing leather. Little Boy dispensed with all that and went for the minced pork inside, which for some reason, was kinda hard and lumpy.
What was worse was that I served them to guests. The Daughter's friends had come by for day on a rare visit. They'd all been regaled by The Daughter's accounts of Petunia's Kitchen Prowess and were looking forward to a good meal. Unfortunately, I made them eat meat-stuffed leather pillows, and so The Daughter sulkily advised that one should not feed experiments to guests.
Hearing this, The Husband said "When it's my friends, you cook your tried and tested recipes ok?"