A family of food bloggers sees the Lunar New Year as a time to reflect on the deeper meaning behind their meals.

Sarah Leung, who started Woks of Life as a culinary genealogy with her sister Kaitlin in 2013, helped "Good Morning America" kick off the year of the Tiger with a taste of their traditions and recipes.

"Lunar New Year foods are filled with symbolism and each dish represents some wish or hope for the year ahead," she explained of the holiday that begins Feb. 1 with celebrations that span the first 15 days of the first month. "Dumplings, for example, symbolize wealth and prosperity because they resemble Chinese silver or gold ingots."

Leung shared a full recipe below for their "money bag dumplings" that she said takes the holiday food tradition a step further.

PHOTO: Handmade golden "money bag" dumplings for Chinese New Year.
The Woks of Life
Handmade golden "money bag" dumplings for Chinese New Year.

"They look like little golden pouches and the bright vegetables in the filling look like jewels peeking through the thin, slightly translucent wrappers," she said. "We always cook dumplings for Lunar New Year and usually serve them for breakfast or lunch while we’re preparing the evening feast."

While the dumplings take just 15 minutes to steam up, read the recipe ahead to ensure you allow enough time to prep the ingredients and soak the mushrooms before assembling and cooking.

Steamed Money Bag Dumplings

PHOTO: A plate of steamed golden "money bag" dumplings for Chinese New Year.
The Woks of Life
A plate of steamed golden "money bag" dumplings for Chinese New Year.

Prep Time: 2 hrs
Cook Time 15 mins
Makes: 16 dumplings, 4 dumplings per serving

2 ounces dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked overnight or in hot water for at least 2 hours until rehydrated; save the soaking water)
2 teaspoons ginger (minced)
1/2 cup carrot (finely diced)
1 cup bamboo shoots (finely diced)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine
4 teaspoons light soy sauce
2 teaspoons vegetarian oyster sauce (or regular oyster sauce, if the dish doesn’t have to be vegetarian)
2 tablespoons scallions (mostly green parts, finely chopped)
16 cilantro stems (each about 5 inches/13 cm long; substitutions include young scallions, chives, and garlic chives)
16 Hong Kong-style yellow dumpling wrappers (substitutions: tofu skin, soaked tofu sheets, blanched yellow Napa cabbage leaves)


Take your rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, squeeze out excess water and trim away any tough stems. Finely dice and set aside. Also prepare the minced ginger, carrots and bamboo shoots.
Heat your wok over medium low heat and add the oil. Cook the ginger and carrots for about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and bamboo shoots, increase the heat to medium and stir-fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the Shaoxing wine, light soy sauce and vegetarian oyster sauce. Stir to combine, and cook the mixture until the mushrooms are tender and there is no standing liquid. Stir in the scallions, remove from the wok, and cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the ties for your money bags. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and prepare a medium bowl of cold/ice water. Blanch the cilantro stems for 5-10 seconds and immediately shock them in cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and gently squeeze them dry, being careful to keep the stems intact.
Open the package of dumpling wrappers and cover with a damp towel to make sure they don’t dry out. Roll each wrapper out so it is about 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter. Add a tablespoon of filling to the middle, ensuring there is enough slack to tie the money bags.
Gently close the wrapper over the filling pinching the bundle together but leaving the top of the bag fanned out. Use one of the cilantro “strings” to tie it closed.
Repeat until all of the filling is used. Now you’re ready to steam. A bamboo steamer works best here, as it allows steam to escape and won’t cause excess condensation to make your money bag dumplings soggy (which can happen with glass or metal steamer lids.)
Line the bamboo steamer with parchment, cabbage leaves or cheesecloth to prevent them from sticking. Arrange the dumplings in the steamer, about 1 inch apart.
Set the steamer in a clean wok of boiling water (read our post on how to use a bamboo steamer) and steam for 3 minutes. You can also pan-fry these, following the same process we use for our Japanese gyoza.
If using tofu sheets, tofu skins or Napa cabbage as wrappers, increase the steaming time to about 15 minutes.

This story was originally published on Feb. 1, 2022.