Monkey Abroad

Videos and stories of the life abroad – food, culture, travel & work

(VIDEO) Homemade Jiaozi 家常饺子


After waiting almost two weeks to receive my passport with a renewed residence permit, I’m free to live in China for another year, and my long-awaited journey across China has finally begun. First stop, Zibo, for some delicious homemade jiaozi.

The first stop of my cross-country trip is in Zibo, a small city in the Shandong Province of China. This is the hometown of my girlfriend, Su Xiao Tong (Suzy), and her family was gracious enough to invite me to join them in preparing homemade jiaozi (steamed Chinese dumplings). I’ve never been one to pass up a free meal, especially one comprised of jiaozi, one of my favorite traditional Chinese foods.

Homemade Jiaozi

Watching Suzy’s mother and aunt prepare this signature Chinese dish was like watching a choreographed performance. I saw their swift hands mold pristine dumplings at a rate of 4 JPM (jiaozi per minute), which would probably be a world record if such a thing existed.

Homemade Jiaozi

After watching these girls roll and stuff jiaozi, I was feeling confident and decided to try it for myself. But I learned soon that, like most things, it’s harder than it looks. Although I tried my best, all the jiaozi I rolled ended up looking like ugly blobs of dough unfit for consumption, but of course, my gracious hosts ate them anyway.

Homemade jiaozi

Once the jiaozi had been rolled and stuffed, it needed to be steamed, which meant we had a bit of time to kill until dinner. In China, there’s no better way to pass the time than to drink freshly brewed tea.

Homemade Jiaozi

Once we had our fill of tea and the jiaozi was freshly steamed, we enjoyed the spoils of our labor. Among the dishes served was fried octopus tentacles, mackerel, stir-fried vegetables with chicken, and of course, all the homemade jiaozi you could eat.

Homemade Jiaozi

It was great spending time with Suzy and her family here in Zibo, but now it’s time to hit the road. This was just the first stop of my journey across China, and I think it’s safe to say that it was a success. Next I’m heading west to Xi’an, the capital city of the Shaanxi Province, where I’ve already arranged a free bed. More videos coming soon, so don’t forget to subscribe to my blog and my YouTube channel.

Homemade Jiaozi

Author: Kevin Cook

I want to inspire you to pursue your own dream of traveling and/or living overseas!


  1. Congrats on finding a girlfriend! Re: Residence Permit, how did you get yours renewed with changing jobs? I had to send my paperwork from the old job to the new one and I’m waiting for the Foreign Expert Certificate and other paperwork to be sent to me in the U.S.? Would’ve loved to have had that stuff completed before I left so I wouldn’t have to pay for a trip to Chicago to go to the Consulate.

    • Thanks, dude! We had a blast hanging out in her hometown for a few days.

      About the permit: I started applying for jobs about 3 months in advance, and I made it very clear that I wanted to remain in China for the renewal. With about 50 days left on my old residence permit, I already had my new job secured, and we began sending documents back and forth with ample time to spare. With one week left on my old permit, I bused to Shanghai and applied for my new permit, in-person, at the foreign affairs office in Pudong, and they let me stay in the PRC. I planned far ahead for this transition, but maybe I’m also a little lucky 😉

      See you in August, man!

      • My plan was to go back to the States for the summer. My new employer did ask me about my plans for the summer and whether I might visit Shanghai. I would’ve been open to coming up for a few days but not entirely on my dime–would’ve had to fly from Haikou, hotel, etc.

        I was just curious, especially since my FEC application process last year was fraught with delays–papers didn’t arrive until Thursday before Labor Day weekend, couldn’t apply for visa in Chicago until the day after the holiday and so on. This time out everything has gone more quickly, just waiting on the paperwork to be sent to me.

    • Girlfriend … yeah, about time.

      • Yeah, it’s my fault that it took so long for me to find a girlfriend in Rizhao. I was too focused on hanging out with foreigners and editing videos that I neglected to hone my Chinese language skills. But the past few months I’ve been practicing and studying every day, and now it’s a lot easier to communicate with Chinese people. Plus, my Chinese has improved significantly since we’ve been seeing each other. I’m just bummed that we met each other right before I’m about to move to Shanghai. Oh well, such is life.

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