Photo by Kankana Saxena
Schrage says making dumplings was serious business in his family when he was growing up, and for the longest time only his mother was allowed to do it. “It was only after a lot of practice that my older brother or I would be allowed to help prepare the dumplings for our New Year’s meal. It was almost a rite of passage,” he says. Though it is traditional to make dumplings for New Year’s celebrations, Schrage enjoys eating them so much that now he makes them year-round.
Chef Chris Yeo serves a delicate array of dim sum at his restaurant Sino in San Jose, California, and says, “Dim sum, a type of dumpling, means ‘a little something from the heart’ and symbolizes fortune and good luck. They are small and shaped like coins, further emphasizing the good luck symbol.” He adds that dumplings resemble the ingots that once were China’s currency, so eating them brings hope of an auspicious and fortunate year. Some cooks stuff a lump of sugar in a dumpling to ensure sweetness! And there is even a tradition of hiding a coin in a dumpling now and then. “If you don’t break a tooth [when you eat the coin-filled dumpling], you are considered lucky for the year,” says Yeo.