Being a student in China has some very significant perks – especially when it comes to holidays. You might not get your usual Christmas vacation (it was rather depressing having to sit in the classroom on the 24th or 25th December), but Chinese University students are given a very long – sometimes up to 5 weeks – winter holiday.To make the most of our time in China, and to practice our Chinese, of course, my friend and I took on the quest of travelling during Spring Festival. Our rough plan was laid out as follows: Train it from Beijing to Nanjing, then take a train to Zhengzhou in Henan to visit a friend of ours who was travelling home for the holidays. Next stop, Shenzhen and Hong Kong, followed by Yangshuo, Guilin and back to Beijing. Surprisingly, we actually made it to all of these destinations and managed to stick to our plan.
We spent the actual New Year days in a small village named Jiaozuo outside Zhengzhou. Not really knowing what to expect when our friend invited us to his home to celebrate the New Year, we hopped on a train from Nanjing ready for an adventure. Unlike the other trains we had taken, this one was old, loud, and uncomfortable. Five hours later, after having endured questioning by almost every other passenger in the cabin (what are you waiguoren (foreigners) doing in this part of town??), we finally arrived in Zhengzhou at around midnight.
A bumpy bus-ride and a daring motorbike-ride later, we made it to our friend’s family’s home and were warmly welcomed by his parents and grandparents. There was a lot of chatter in their local dialect, of which we couldn’t understand anything, but it looked like they were happy to see us. After we were presented with some soup and nibbles, our friend and his father gave us a tour of the village and their land. As we walked through the old streets (no skyscrapers here!) we were followed by a group of curious children, who had probably never seen a non-Chinese person in their life. We visited the family’s other property and hung up couplets on the doors and arches and bought fireworks and firecrackers in preparation for the evening.
By sunset the first firecrackers were set off, and the blasts did not end until the early morning hours. There were home-made jiaozi (dumplings) for dinner and soup, followed by a game of majiang of course!
The next morning, offerings were made to the temples nearby and firecrackers were set off on the fields to welcome the harvest. It was truly an unforgettable experience to see everyone together, singing, laughing and celebrating. The only way I could describe it is the warm, fuzzy feeling we have at Christmas.. just more explosive.. 🙂
Come to China for an Internship and experience the joys of Spring Festival yourself! Apply Now
Hi guys, this is Stephan from InternChina. As this is my last week in China before heading back to Germany for Christmas, this will be my last blog for you. In this one I will explain to you how to make dumplings on your own at home.
Last Saturday we met in our apartment with a group of friends to have a farewell dinner along with some home-made dumplings. As Leo and Amber are masters in the art of making dumplings, they were the ones teaching us. And it turned out to be a real fun night.
The Chinese name for dumplings is Jiǎo Zi. In China making and eating dumplings together is an important, traditional activity. Dumplings are made with a wrapper and a filling. The wrapper is made from flour and water, the fillings on the other hand can vary a lot.
We created 3 different fillings, one consisting of eggs and vegetables and the other two being a mixture of pork and various vegetables. So let me break down for you on how to make dumplings step by step.
Step 1: Get the wrappers. You can choose to either make them on your own or you buy some that are already prepared. We decided to get prepared wrappers and focus on the fillings.
Step 2: Prepare the fillings. Clean the meat and vegetables and cut them into small pieces. Prepare different bowls for the different fillings. If you do an egg filling, cook the eggs in advance. Then start mixing things up the way you want it to be.
Step 3: Add things like cooking wine, soy sauce, ginger, onions, salt and different spices to get the typical Chinese taste of dumplings. Don’t be shy with adding a lot of these ingredients!
Here comes the fun part. Now it is time to get the filling in the wrapper. There are various techniques to do it.
Step 4 Beginners: Put the filling in the center of the wrapper. Fold and pinch the wrapper in the middle first and then work the right and left side. At the beginning you might find it hard to do but with each one you will get better.
Step 4 Advanced: If the usual way of putting dumplings together gets boring, you can live out your whole creativity and find new forms to make some nice Jiǎo Zi.
Step 5: The final step is to get your prepared dumplings ready and cook them for around 7 minutes in boiling water. After this, get together with your friends to enjoy your hard work.
Personal Tip: Snicker-Dumplings – this is by no way a traditional Chinese dumpling, but you should still do it. Buy some snickers, cut it into pieces and get it into the wrappers. Then cook it the usual way and enjoy it as a dessert.
If you would like to do an internship with us and learn how to cook some traditional Chinese food, apply now!
Last sunday, Amber’s parents invited Hanna, Lisa, Jack and me to their place to celebrate the Chinese New Year, it was a very nice and relaxed day.
In the Chinese tradition you don’t need to finish dishes, and it’s a sign of respect for your host if you leave some food in your plate. So Amber’s mother cooked us many excellent dishes and the starters would already have been enough, we spent most part of the afternoon eating (and drinking!).
In the late afternoon, Amber’s father taught us how to make our own Jiaozi (Chinese Raviolis), with meat and vegetables. We all had to try to do at least one, I am of course a natural, Hanna and Lisa were not bad as well but Jack somehow managed to elope this tricky task. After making them we ate them (again eating…), so that evening we were not hungry at all!
In the evening we met most of our interns, and we went to the 4th May square to light fireworks together. Since not everyone is staying in a host family and lighting fireworks is part of the tradition when celebrating New Year, we thought that it would be fun to make everyone at least buy something and light it up together. The Chinese people around us had a lot of fun as well watching foreigners lighting little tanks and rainbow fireworks, as well as big fat firecrackers.
For me it was the first time that I celebrate Chinese New Year, when I arrived I thought that there will be some parade or things like this in the streets.
But not at all, it’s the exact opposite, it’s a familial celebration, Chinese people are visiting their relatives and Qingdao was very calm during the whole week, most shops and restaurants were closed and almost no-one was on the streets…Except for millions of fireworks which seemed to be exploding everywhere all day and night!
Last Saturday, we had a new InternChina Event I want to tell you about. We invited interns and friends to Jenny’s apartment to learn how to make Dumplings/Jiaozi/饺子. As you might know, Jenny and me learned how to make them a couple of weeks ago (read all about it in this (German) blog), so of course we also wanted to impress our teachers Lizy and Richard with our skills.
We met in the morning at around 12 o’clock in front of Jusco and started our shopping. I think for all the Chinese people it was quite obvious what we were up to and we earned a lot of approving looks and glances. We needed around 1h to do all the shopping and had to carry 8 bunches of jiucai, more than 1Kg of meat, 1L oil, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar and a lot of other stuff home.
Already knowing that preparations take a long time, we started right away. Our original plan was to go shopping early, take a break, do more shopping (drinks and all the stuff we forgot), take another break, then start preparing. In the end it was going shopping around lunch time (my fault, had to sleep in), then go shopping again because we couldn’t carry everything and then start preparing because it was already quite late!
At around 5 o’clock I went outside to pick everyone up (we were a little afraid someone might get lost in Jenny’s living compound) and after everyone had time to admire our preparational work, we started making Jiaozi right away. Lizy and Richard, as well as Amber were really good at explaining different techniques. 🙂
We had only one rule (made by Jenny): If you want to eat much, you also have to make many Jiaozi! (Jack, Leo and Lei Sheng successfully ignored that rule 😉 )
Leo invented a new Snickers-Jiaozi. We are still wondering when they will first appear in Chinese supermarkets. They are definitely going to be a great hit!
After everybody ate their fill, we started to get ready to go out. Qingdaos InterConti was hosting an open Mic night, where chinese comedians (whom we missed) were to perform and one of the local bands.
The evening was definitely a lot of fun and I figuered that we not only have cool interns here in Qingdao, but also interns who are more than talented at making Jiaozi!
Jenny und Ich sind immer für euch unterwegs, um neue Dinge zu lernen und auszuprobieren, die tollsten Plätze Qingdaos zu finden und natürlich alle nur möglichen Restaurants zu testen.
Letzte Woche dachten wir uns das man diese Sachen doch am besten einmal verbinden sollte, also haben wir uns mit zwei chinesischen Freunden beim Carrefour getroffen, die uns beibringen wollten Jiaozi zu machen (ausprobieren, lernen und essen in einem…besser als ein Überraschungsei!)
Jiaozi – das sind diese kleinen Teig-Dinger mit Füllung die man bei uns meistens nur als Dumplings oder chinesische Ravioli kennt – sehen auf den ersten Blick ziemlich einfach aus, aber unsere beiden Lehrer haben es sich zum Auftrag gemacht, uns tatsächlich jeden einzelnen Schritt dieses traditionellen chinesischen Gerichts beizubringen.
Hier ist also InternChinas ultimative Anleitung zum Jiaozi selbst machen:
1. Als erstes braucht man Chinesen. Am besten zwei, falls einer nicht so gut kochen kann, wie er/sie behauptet.
2. Treffen bei einem großen Supermarkt wie Carrefour. Dort hineingehen, davon ausgehen das man alles findet was man braucht und nach einer Stunde orientierungslosem Herumspazieren endlich begreifen, dass die grundlegenden Zutaten schon ausverkauft sind.
3. Auf einen Markt fahren, fehlende Zutaten besorgen und noch ein bisschen Backup-Essen kaufen, falls die Jiaozi nichts werden. Außerdem: Bier kaufen nicht vergessen!
4. Jetzt fängt der wichtige Teil erst an! Ab geht’s nach Hause, Lebensmittel auspacken, erstmal ausruhen und ein Bier aufmachen, sich selbst dazu gratulieren Etappe 1 überstanden zu haben (wer schonmal in einem chinesischen Supermarkt war, weiß was ich meine).
5. Nachdem du nun schön entspannt auf dem Sofa sitzt und darauf wartest, dass sich deine Jiaozi irgendwie von selbst machen, kommt einer deiner Freunde und drückt dir ein riesiges Bündel Jiucai (ein bisschen ähnlich wie Bärlauch) in die Hand, leider macht sich der Jiucai nicht von selbst sauber.
6. Zum Reinigen des Jiucais wirst du wahrscheinlich ziemlich lange brauchen. Nicht so einfach mit den Jiaozi wie du dir das gedacht hast? Ging uns genauso! Nach einer wiederholten Verschnaufpause nimmst du auf einmal einen leckeren Duft aus der Küche wahr, Schlussfolgerung: Besser mal nachschaun was da passiert!
7. Schritt 7 ist einfach: Schau blöd aus der Wäsche! Deine Freunde haben die ganze Jiaozi-Füllung innerhalb deiner 2 Sekunden Ausruhen zubereitet, naja schaut eh ganz einfach aus: Bisschen Ei braten, Jiucai hacken, irgendwelche Soßen dazugeben…ähm ja, nächstes mal vielleicht doch lieber nicht so viel Faulenzen, als guter Praktikant darf man sich das ja schließlich auch nicht erlauben. 😉
8. Im nächsten Schritt sollten wir lernen wie man den Teig zubereitet. Eigentlich schauts ganz einfach aus. Ein bisschen Jiaozi Mehl mit lauwarmen Wasser mischen (dafür werden natürlich Stäbchen benutzt) und dann kneten, Mehl dazu, Wasser dazu, kneten. Das ganze wiederholt man so oft bis man einen riesen Klumpen Teig hat.
9. Da wir jetzt wissen, wie das mit dem Teig geht, benutzen wir vorgefertigte, auf dem Markt gekaufte Teigstücke, um die Jiaozi zu machen. Man nimmt ein Jiaozipir (das Teigstück) in die Hand, tut ein bisschen von der Füllung rein, folgt den Handgriffen der chinesischen Freunde, hat dabei keine Ahnung was man eigentlich tut und: Voilà! Du hast dein erstes selbstgemachtes Jiaozi!
Geheimtipp: Möglichst professionell gucken, auch wenn du keine Ahnung hast was du tust!
10. Nachdem wir diesen Vorgang ein paar gefühlte 100mal wiederholt haben, hatten wir eine recht ansehnliche Menge Jiaozi fabriziert. Der Rest war einfach: Wasser aufkochen, sobald es kocht Jiaozi dazugeben, sobald das Wasser wieder kocht einen Becher Wasser dazugeben. Das ganze dreimal wiederholen, dann Jiaozi abschöpfen.
11. Jiaozi in eine Schüssel geben, ein wenig Essig und Sojasauce dazu: Guten Appetit! 🙂
Natürlich gibt es noch viele andere Möglichkeiten Jiaozi zuzubereiten. Man braucht auch nicht zwingend Freunde die es selbst können. Wenn du zum Beispiel in einer chinesischen Gastfamilie wohnst, gibt es sicher Familienmitglieder die dir 包饺子 (bao1jiao3zi – Jiaozi ‘rollen’) beibringen können und sich freuen ihr Wissen mit dir zu teilen. Schau doch einfach mal auf unserer Webseite nach, wir haben viele tolle Gastfamilien! Du kannst uns auch eine Email schreiben: email@example.com
Do you know the Winter Solstice? Have you heard of solar term?
The Winter Solstice in China
There are 24 solar terms in a year in Chinese calendar, such as Spring begins, Great heat – The Winter Solstice is the 22nd solar term in a year, most times it’s on 22nd Dec (sometimes on 21st or 23rd) and it is the day that the sun radiates the earth on the tropic of Capricorn directly, so the daytime is shortest and the night is the longest in the Northern Hemisphere during the whole year. In ancient China, people thought the day was important, it was worth being celebrated.
The way to celebrate
The history of celebrating the Winter Solstice can be tracked back to Han Dynasty, but the way to celebrate is different from today, it was more grand in ancient times. Almost all the emperors paid attention to the Winter Solstice, even the emperors in Qing Dynasty attended the ceremony every year to celebrate.
Nowadays in northern China, people always make and eat dumplings with the family to celebrate. Why do people eat dumplings on the Winter Solstice? Because there is a story: if you don’t eat dumplings on the Winter Solstice, your ears will be frozen off in winter! Of course it’s fake. People made up the story to let all people eat dumplings and drink the soup of dumplings to keep warm in cold winter and to keep the memory of Chinese Medicine holy.
People in southern China eat glue pudding and something else instead of dumplings to celebrate, such as red bean rice in Jiangnan area, rice balls in some other areas in southern China.
Is there any tradition in your country to celebrate the Winter Solstice? Please share with us! Come to China, live in a host family and learn more about Chinese culture: firstname.lastname@example.org or check out our website www.internchina.com