Dumpling lovers rejoice at Jan Juc General Store

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Dumpling lovers rejoice at Jan Juc General Store

Sometimes it’s best not to ask what’s inside. But here you are most welcome, because Surf Coast dumpling lovers rejoice! Traditional Cantonese style dumplings are bubbling away at the Jan Juc General Store. These flavoursome little bags of delight are an exciting addition to the classic Aussie milk bar offerings at the one stop shop. Grab the newspaper, milk and a dumpling snack or a take home bag for your freezer. Handy for after-school snacks, dinner parties and hung over weekend breakfasts with plenty of chilli sauce.

Dujing Xheng or Jing (originally from Southern China) has lived in Juc for one year, previously running a noodle shop with his uncle in Wodonga. Jing believes it’s the chef’s duty to educate the diner in classic cuisine. His father ran many restaurants in China over 30 years, creating some military taste buds in young Jing who was spoilt on first class flavours, “I’m very fussy with my food,” he admits. Dumplings are not a traditional food in the south, but Jing has a good contact. His mate – a very good Chinese patisserie, who worked for many Yum Cha restaurants and started his Australian career at Crown Casino, has let him in on a few secrets.

No matter which region in China, the filler is very similar: pork mince, cabbage and spices. “We use the traditional spices – ginger, spring onion, pepper, chicken powder, salt, sugar and sesame oil. Once you find the right ratio, you can create a wonderful flavour,” says Jing. The raw ingredients are put through the mixer, wrapped inside the pastry, sealing the flavour in the dumpling so that when it is steamed or boiled; the filling melts releasing its marvellously more-ish tastes.

Different areas of China make different dumplings in their own way. Some traditionalist make dumplings with many wrinkles in the pastry – this works if you have a big family helping. But for Jing, he opts for a few less wrinkles, but “still making good presentation.” It’s actually Jing’s wife, Xiaolan Keng that is the crafty dumpling creator. “Most learn to make them very young because as you get older, your hand is getting a bit stubborn, you need to use a soft strength of hand,” Jing says.

Jing believes freshness is the key to good food. “If you can reduce procedures in processing you can keep the original flavour of the ingredients.” So all his ingredients are sourced locally, except for the pastry, which comes from Melbourne. “We tried many brands, steamed and boiled,” he says. Only the best doesn’t deliver to Geelong, so they had to settle for second best, but still one of the oldest pastry styles in dumpling history.

I sit at the round glass two-seater table and am treated to traditional Chinese hospitality; a steaming bowl of dumpling-laden soup with chicken powder, white pepper and spring onion. The liquid is salt and pepper, the dumplings moist and superbly tasty, with no need to add any sauce. I feel like I’m in Jing’s home. He’s keen to chat and hear my opinion on Australian Chinese food. He says it’s hard to find classic Chinese food. “The first generation Chinese chefs in Australia were not professional chefs, just Chinese people good at cooking. When I introduce traditional food, I prefer to spend some time with my customers, show them what real Chinese food is.”

Well, Chinese New Year might be the time for dumpling celebration but lucky for Juc locals, Jing’s got dumplings all year round – long as you can wait six minutes. And better yet, you can try before you buy. Yeehaw!

Where: Jan Juc General Store, 127 Stuart Ave, Jan Juc.
Phone: 5297 7656

Written by Heidi Atkins