The Chinese New Year begins on February 3, with families traditionally gathering on the eve before to feast and celebrate. What better way to welcome the new year than by throwing a dumpling-making party?

The more dumplings the merrier for a celebration like this. Prepare several different fillings and clear a large space for assembling the individual dumplings. While one person scoops filling onto the pasta-like wrappers, another person can follow behind to pinch the dumplings closed. Another team works at the stove, steaming batches of prepared dumplings into soft and chewy perfection.

Besides symbolizing wealth and a wish for prosperity in the coming year, these labor-intensive dumplings are more fun to make -- and to eat! -- when surrounded by good company.

NOTE: Any un-steamed dumplings remaining at the end of the night can be frozen for quick mid-week meals. Lay the dumplings in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Make sure they aren't touching or they will freeze together. Freeze until the dumplings are solid to the touch, and then transfer to a sealable freezer bag. Frozen dumplings can be prepared like fresh dumplings; just extend the steaming time by a few minutes.

PORK DUMPLINGS

Makes about 30 dumplings.

1 lb (1/2 small head) Napa cabbage, sliced thinly crosswise

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 lb ground pork

3-4 scallions, sliced thin

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

2 teaspoons rice vinegar

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 large egg, lightly beaten

30 round or square dumpling wrappers

Canola oil

Soy sauce

Place the cabbage in a bowl and toss with the salt. Let the cabbage sit for about 5 minutes until wilted. Squeeze handfuls of the cabbage in your fist and discard the liquid that collects at the bottom.

Combine the cabbage with the pork, scallions, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, pepper, and egg. Mix well.

Set a bowl of water and a baking sheet lined with parchment paper near your workspace. Lay several dumpling wrappers on the work surface and place a scant tablespoon of filling in the middle of each. Dip a finger in the water and run it around the edge of the first dumpling wrapper. Fold the wrapper over and pinch it closed. If the wrapper opens again, come back to it in a few minutes. Repeat with remaining wrappers until all the filling is used.

Heat one teaspoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place as many dumplings in the pan as will fit in a single layer without touching. Cook until the bottoms have turned golden-brown. Pour 1/2 cup of water into the pan and cover immediately. Steam the dumplings for 3-5 minutes until all the water is absorbed and the wrappers are translucent. Cut one of the dumplings open to make sure the filling is cooked through and no longer pink.

Transfer to a serving platter and repeat with remaining dumplings. Serve immediately with soy sauce for dipping.

VEGETARIAN SHIITAKE MUSHROOM AND TOFU DUMPLINGS

Makes about 30 dumplings.

7 oz (1/2 block) tofu

4 oz diced shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps diced small

1 lb (1/2 small head) Napa cabbage, sliced thinly crosswise

1 teaspoon salt

3-4 scallions, sliced thin

1 1/2 tablespoons minced ginger

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 egg, lightly beaten

30 round or square dumpling wrappers

Canola oil

Place the tofu on a dinner plate and set a second plate on top. Weight this down with a few cans from the pantry. Let sit about 10 minutes to press out the liquid from the tofu. Discard the liquid.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a large skillet and saute the mushrooms until golden. Add the sliced cabbage and salt, and cook until the cabbage is wilted. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

Crumble the tofu into a large bowl and combine with the scallions, ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, pepper, and egg. Squeeze handfuls of the cooled mushroom-cabbage mixture in your fist to release the moisture and transfer to the bowl with the tofu. Mix all ingredients thoroughly.

Proceed with forming and cooking the dumplings as described in the recipe for Pork Dumplings.

ASIAN PEAR AND GINGER DESSERT DUMPLINGS

Makes about 30 dumplings.

14 oz (1 medium) Asian pear, diced very small

2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger

Zest from one orange

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice blend

Honey

Combine the pear, ginger, orange zest, sugar, and spices in a bowl. Proceed with forming and cooking the dumplings as described in the recipe for Pork Dumplings. Serve dessert dumplings with honey for dipping.

Emma Christensen is a writer for Apartment Therapy: The Kitchn

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A Dumpling Party to Celebrate Chinese New Years - Recipe

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