How Did Dumplings Come About?

Everyone loves dumplings! They’re chewy, delicious, and offer just the right amount of bite in the mouth. Best of all? These little pockets of joy are incredibly convenient to eat–just pop them into your mouth and enjoy. Utensils are probably not even a necessity if the occasional mess doesn’t bother you. Given the amount of unadulterated happiness dumplings bring you, have you ever wondered… “How did dumplings come about, anyway?” Think about it: who thought of wrapping meat, vegetables, and all kinds of fillings in flour?

Curious? Good. You’ve stumbled upon the right article. Here, we explore the history of how dumplings came about–so you can better appreciate these delectable treats the next time you stuff your face with piping-hot dumplings.

The ‘Medicine Saint’: Zhang Zhongjing   

Legend traces the history of dumplings back to a man called Zhang Zhongjing–also known as the Sage of Traditional Chinese Medicine–in the Eastern Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D). The idea of dumplings supposedly struck Zhang when he returned to his ancestral village during the winter after a long period of absence. Many villagers were unable to cope with the harsh cold and suffered from frostbite, especially around their ears. Spurred into action, Zhang cooked up lamb, black peppers, and a few medicinal herbs, shredded them, then wrapped them in scraps of dough. He folded the dumplings to look like little ears and boiled them.

While nobody knows for sure if the dumplings were indeed useful for frostbite, one thing was clear: the villagers loved the taste of Zhang’s creation so much that they began imitating Zhang’s recipe with additional ingredients like vegetables and other kinds of meat. And even ate them long after spring began.

A traditional Chinese New Year food

These days, the Chinese are much less bothered about eating dumplings to cure frostbite, obviously, but dumplings still do play an essential role in Chinese traditions. And that’s because they’re shaped like the ingots of the ancient Chinese currency (during the Ming dynasty; 1368 to 1644 A.D.); these juicy little pockets are, therefore, seen to symbolize prosperity and wealth. That’s why many Chinese families eat dumplings at midnight on New Year’s Eve. It’s believed that doing so helps bring good luck for the new year.

This might surprise you, but many Chinese families make their dumplings from scratch. Why? Well, because it makes for a great bonding activity, especially for family members who’ve been away from home the past year. So, if you visit a Chinese family during Chinese New Year, you’ll often find every member gathered around the table, each performing their duties in a highly coordinated system–making the filling, rolling out the dough, and wrapping the stuffing in the skin. Warms your heart, doesn’t it?

Experience the familial comfort of dumplings

Congratulations! You now know the history of how dumplings came about and their significance to many Chinese families around the world. Craving for some good old familial comfort? Well, here’s a secret: you don’t have to make dumplings from scratch with our easy recipe – if you don’t want to. Check out our offerings. We won’t tell if you don’t!