Chengdu: City of Gastronomy #9
钟水饺 -- Zhōng shuǐ jiǎo
Dumplings packed with meat and served in a slightly sweet and fully delicious Sichuan chili oil.
Zhong, which translates to bell or time, is actually the name of the street food vendor who created the dish some 100 years ago in Chengdu.
The dumplings have a slightly thicker skin and they have no vegetables in them. The filling is pure pork. Sounds pretty simple, but complexity comes in the sauce. It’s a combination of chili oil and a dark thick soy sauce that’s cooked with some herbs, spices, and added sugar. Add some garlic and sesame seeds, and you got yourself an amazing lunch.
Don’t confuse these with another popular Sichuan dumpling called red oil dumplings. These are slightly different than Zhong’s dumplings. The skin is thinner and more delicate, the filling will probably have some scallions or something mixed in with it, and the sauce is usually soupier.
In Chinese, dumplings are called jiǎo. I’d say they aren’t quite as popular as wontons, but you can usually find them in noodle shops.
Their shape is suppose to represent a first quarter moon.
I ate my dumplings in a food court at a mall -- mainly because I wanted to show you guys what a Chinese food court is like, but there are other places that likely make a better dumpling.
Where To Find Zhong Dumplings in Chengdu
The best place to get them is a chain that goes by the same name as the dish. You can find a few locations around Chengdu, but why not head to the one in People’s Park, the most popular park in the city and a great place to relax. Grab a seat at one of the tea houses and get your ears cleaned while you eat your dumplings. Or, go for a walk and try to find the local marriage market.