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Jiao zi – gluten free

Jiao zi  or Chinese dumplings are a common Asian food but one of the more tricky to make gluten-free.

P1020226 with text fried dumplings

Jiao zi cooked on the street in Taiwan was really tempting. It was this temptation that got me trying to make a gluten free version. At first I made the mixture and wrapped it in rice paper – making something more akin to spring rolls than traditional jiao zi. Since then I’ve modified two recipes. The first pastry is for dumplings you intend to fry.  It isn’t too good if you want streamed ones. The second pastry is for steamed dumplings and isn’t as good for frying. Fillings can be of whatever you like, vegetarian or meat.

Frying pastry : my version is a modification of the one here (There are quite a few ideas on this site for gluten-free dumplings so you might like to have a look around)

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1 cup brown rice flour

1 cup besan flour

1 cup tapioca flour

1 1/4 cup boiling water

Mix flours together – a whisk is great for this. Add just boiled water and mix until dough is formed. Set aside, covered in plastic or a tea towel for 1/2 an hour before breaking into small balls and rolling out into rounds to make dumplings. Rolling out dumpling wrappers is an art that the skilled make look easy. Don’t expect gluten free pastry to behave like wheaten pastry, it just doesn’t have the elasticity that gluten gives to a wheat based version. That said, this first pastry is not too difficult to roll out. Roll it out on a large bread board or similar using tapioca flour to stop it sticking to your board. You really need to use a Chinese roller rather than a Western style one which are much too big for the job. You can use a piece of dowel about 2 1/2 cm in diameter and about 15 cm long or like me you can just borrow the one the kids have in the play dough. (Just wash it first. 🙂 ) I tend to shape these in the half moon shape and fry in a frypan in shallow oil, turning as they cook on the three sides.

P1020224 with text 2

I also make them a bit larger than the traditional size – mostly because of the difficulty in making the pastry do as I want and also because I prefer more filling to my pastry.

Steaming pastry : This recipe is modified from here :

P1020222 with text

2 cups tapioca flour

1 cup brown rice flour (you can use white – I just don’t normally have that in my pantry)

1 cup coconut cream

2 tbs olive oil


Mix together. Cook partly in a saucepan (non-stick is best). If you’ve ever made playdough – cook it to almost that consistency. Let sit for 1/2 hour before rolling out as for the frying pastry. This is even harder to form nicely than the first pastry so don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect. You might notice that other recipes use xanthan or guar gum in gluten free pastry. I prefer not to use them for health reasons but they do improve the stretch of the pastry marginally so try it if you like.

Filling :

Fillings can be any meat and any vegetable you like. To make vegetarian, increase the vegetable content or use crumbled tofu in place of the meat.  Following is one of my preferred versions and this amount will do a batch of both the fried and steamed dumplings because you might want both. We usually do.

P1020217 with text

700 gms chicken mince

1 baby bok choy – chopped finely

handful or coriander – chopped finely

3 or 4 large mushrooms – chopped finely

2 or 3 shallots – chopped finely

1 large carrot – grated

1/2 small capsicum – chopped finely

1 tbsp minced ginger

1 tbsp tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)

1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (gluten free)

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 egg

salt to taste

Dipping Sauce :

One part sweet chilli sauce to one part tamari – we add this individually to our plates as we need.



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Gluten – free Asian food – Ginger Beef

We love Asian food. Thankfully these days it’s pretty easy to eat out gluten-free Asian and many Asian dishes lend themselves to gluten-free cooking.

In our house there are a few dishes that we eat pretty regularly to satisfy our Asian food cravings.  Today I’ll share with you a family favourite. It was one of my Mum’s recipes. Unfortunately I can’t say where she got it from.

P1020050 with text

Chinese Ginger Beef

700 gms Sliced or diced beef ( I like mine sliced finely)

Marinade ingredients

1 tbsp tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)

2 tsp curry powder (keen’s of course!)

1 tbsp minced ginger (we like our ginger, if you are not so keen put a little less in)

1 tsp bicarb soda (this and the vinegar are the key ingredients in making the beef tender)

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp oil (I usually use olive but sesame gives a lovely flavour)

1 dsp honey

salt to taste

Mix all these ingredients in bowl and marinate overnight. If you are like me 🙂 you might not get to do this the night before. It really is better the longer you can marinate the mix – an hour or two is still better than not at all.

Slice up an onion or two depending on your preference.

Lightly fry the onion in a little oil in a fry pan. When soft, add the meat and brown quickly at high temp. Remove from heat.

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At this point you need to decide if you want to make an all in one dish with vegetables added or if you prefer to stir fry the vegetables separately. For ease and time reasons I usually make it as an all in one dish. What vegetables you use is variable so use what you have. For this meal pictured above I added:

1 red capsicum – sliced

1 large carrot – peeled and sliced

broccoli florets (about 1/2 and average head)- cut into small pieces

10 mushrooms – sliced

fresh ginger – cut finely – about 3 cm cubed worth

Stir fry your vegetables in the same pan that you cooked the meat in and remove.

To make sauce

Make up a second mix of the marinade mixture with half the minced ginger. Stir in the fry pan. Mix a heaped tbsp of tapioca flour (or GF cornflour) with a cup of water and stir into the mix over medium heat until the sauce thickens. At that point the meat and vegetables can be returned to the pan and once heated through it is ready to eat.

Serve with rice.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.