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Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More [Hardcover]

Andrea Nguyen , Penny De Los Santos
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Nguyen, author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, celebrates a wide array of dough-wrapped treats from China, Vietnam, Japan, Philippines, India and Korea in this lavishly photographed homage to the not-so-humble dumpling. She divides her treasure trove of recipes by dough type, including filled pastas, thin skins, stuffed buns, rich pastries and more. Japanese pork and shrimp pot stickers, Filipino chicken and egg buns, and spicy potato samosas whet the appetite and show the diversity of the offerings she provides. Line drawings highlight shaping techniques to make half-moons, pea pods, crescents and footballs. Nguyen includes recipes for making dough and wrappers from scratch, including rice sheet batter, wheat starch dough and basic dough, among others. She also showcases dessert dumplings such as fried banana spring rolls, and milk dumplings in cardamom and saffron syrup. Sections on sauces, seasoning and stocks, key ingredients and essential equipment round out a superb collection. This alluring and attractive book will appeal to a wide audience of home cooks and trained chefs. 75 full-color photos. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

“If it's a small, succulent parcel encased in dough, pastry, batter, or leaves from anywhere between India and Polynesia, you'll find a recipe and crystal-clear instructions for making it with Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings.”
—Cooking Light, Favorite Cookbooks, 2010

"Nguyen, author of Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, celebrates a wide array of dough-wrapped treats from China, Vietnam, Japan, Philippines, India and Korea in this lavishly photographed homage to the not-so-humble dumpling. She divides her treasure trove of recipes by dough type, including filled pastas, thin skins, stuffed buns, rich pastries and more. Japanese pork and shrimp pot stickers, Filipino chicken and egg buns, and spicy potato samosas whet the appetite and show the diversity of the offerings she provides. Line drawings highlight shaping techniques to make half-moons, pea pods, crescents and footballs. Nguyen includes recipes for making dough and wrappers from scratch, including rice sheet batter, wheat starch dough and basic dough, among others. She also showcases dessert dumplings such as fried banana spring rolls, and milk dumplings in cardamom and saffron syrup. Sections on sauces, seasoning and stocks, key ingredients and essential equipment round out a superb collection. This alluring and attractive book will appeal to a wide audience of home cooks and trained chefs. 75 full-color photos." (Oct.) 
Publishers Weekly

“Until I began cooking from this remarkable book I had no idea that preparing Asian dumplings was so easy and so satisfying. Andrea Nguyen’s latest work is authoritative, fun, and filled with recipes that yield insanely delicious results.”
–James Oseland, editor in chief of Saveur and author of Cradle of Flavor

“I was truly excited when I first picked up this book, a feeling that quickly turned to awe. Andrea Nguyen introduces you to Asian dumplings you never knew existed, makes you feel that you can’t live until you try them, then takes your hand and, in admirably lucid detail, shows you exactly how to make them. Asian Dumplings is destined to become a classic–it’s already an instant must-have for any Asian food lover.”
–John Thorne, author of Outlaw Cook and Mouth Wide Open

“Andrea Nguyen has done a remarkable job of guiding us through the world of Asian dumplings, sharing their history and evolution and providing plenty of user-friendly recipes. This beautiful cookbook will make you want to throw a dumpling-making party every time you turn the page.”
–Corinne Trang, author of Essentials of Asian Cuisine and Noodles Every Day

“Andrea’ s humor, enthusiasm, and comforting pragmatism make me want to bolt into my kitchen to knead and roll and wrap and steam and bake and fry and, best of all, gobble. This book will make you very, very hungry.”
–Niloufer Ichaporia King, author of My Bombay Kitchen

Asian Dumplings is full of inspiration for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike. Samosas, lumpia, pot stickers, momo, gyōza, wontons, and bāo in one volume? And diagrams for all the folding techniques? Thank you, Andrea.”
–Heidi Swanson, author of Super Natural Cooking

From the Publisher

* The first and only cookbook on making authentic versions of the most popular East Asian, Southeast Asian, and South Asian dumplings, including Chinese dim sum favorites.
* Features more than 75 step-by-step line illustrations and full-color styled food shots.
* Andrea Nguyen's first book, INTO THE VIETNAMESE KITCHEN, demonstrated her unique ability to interpret Asian cooking styles for American cooks.

About the Author

ANDREA NGUYEN is a food writer and cooking teacher whose work appears in the Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, and Saveur, where she is also a contributing editor. Her first book, Into the Vietnamese Kitchen, was nominated for three James Beard and IACP cookbook awards. She lives in Santa Cruz, California.
Visit VietWorldKitchen.com and AsianDumplingTips.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction

Dumplings make people smile. At their core, they are fun, uncomplicated, wonderfully satisfying foods that can be enjoyed with a crowd or savored in solitude. They’re reminders of good times–preparing them for family, noshing on them with friends, or queuing up for them with great anticipation. The individual dough morsels, diminutive pouches, and leaf-wrapped packages contain treasures that never fail to please the palate.

I’ve enjoyed a dumpling-filled life since my youth. One of the first cooking assignments my mother gave me (after cooking rice) was folding wontons. After all, we ate rice daily and frequently ate fried wontons and wontons in soup. My mother was smart to figure out that a precocious ten-year-old was perfect for these elementary but crucial family kitchen duties.

Making batches of 150 to 200 wontons became part of my life, and I rarely thought of it as drudgery. I rather liked folding different shapes and devising new methods to make the work go faster and better. I didn’t always work alone; sometimes my siblings and I challenged one another to see who could fold the prettiest wontons or pleated pot stickers.

We used premade wrappers for Chinese-style dumplings because they were readily available, but there was no such convenience for Vietnamese dumplings. Those were my mother’s specialty, and she prepared hers from
scratch to ensure that our family had the tastes of our homeland. Treats such as bánh ít (Steamed Sticky Rice Dumplings with Shrimp and Pork, page 168) were part of my options for both breakfast and afternoon snacks. We also exchanged gifts of homemade Vietnamese dumplings with family and friends–we all knew they were hard to come by in the United States.

I’ve probably eaten as many Asian dumplings “out” as I have at home. My father regularly piled us into our Buick Estate Wagon and drove over an hour to Chinatown in Los Angeles for Saturday morning dim sum. In the restaurants’ din, I listened carefully for the dumpling ladies’ melodious calls as they made their rounds of the tables: har gow, siu mai, char siu bao–the Cantonese names of perennial favorites (shrimp dumplings, cook-and-sell dumplings, and roasted pork buns, respectively).

During a yearlong fellowship in Hong Kong in the early 1990s, I explored first-rate dim sum houses, experienced for the first time wondrous translucent Chiu Chow Dumplings (page 137) filled with a nutty surf-and-turf mixture, and nibbled on magnificent tiny steamed buns on a trip to Yunnan province in China. I observed professional dumpling cooks whenever possible, and upon returning to the United States, not only did I continue to seek out more Asian dumplings, I also began experimenting with making Chinese and other styles of wrappers from scratch. I asked my mother about Vietnamese dumplings, their fillings, dough, and cooking techniques. It wasn’t long before I realized that there were many similarities among the dumplings enjoyed in Asia.

I studied cookbooks for tips and keys to unlock the world of Asian dumplings. My skills improved through lots of trial-and-error, as there was no publication dedicated to Asian dumplings and cooking classes on the subject were extremely rare. The dough and rolling techniques were hard to figure out at first, and I made plenty of blunders, but my clumsy-looking results always at least tasted good. In fact, over my years of eating and cooking, and especially through the process of polishing the recipes for this book, the most important insights I’ve gained are these:

• Asian dumplings don’t have to look pretty to taste fabulous.
• With few exceptions, there are numerous ways to fold and shape a dumpling.
• Practice is the way to mastery, but you really don’t have to lead a dumpling-obsessed life to learn to make them well.
• You get to eat your mistakes! Enjoy them as much as you do your successes.

Defining Asia and Asian Dumplings

Asia is either huge or humongous, depending on where you draw the defining boundaries. Though the Middle East, Turkey, the Central Asian republics, and most of Russia are, geographically speaking, part of Asia, the recipes in this book come from the three subregions of East Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Asia. A good number of the dumplings from this vast swathe of territory have Chinese roots, as the Middle Kingdom’s preparations begot many others throughout Asia, and because Cantonese dim sum is popular all over Asia and abroad wherever there are large Asian populations.

But what exactly is a dumpling in the Asian context? Many English speakers categorize Asian-filled pastas, such as pot stickers and wontons, as dumplings, but in actuality the concept of the dumpling does not exist in the Asian culinary framework.

In the same vein as Shu Xi (if many hundreds of years later), acclaimed Chinese cookbook author Irene Kuo described pot stickers, siu mai, wontons, egg rolls, buns, and the like as “dough stuffs” in her classic 1977 work The Key to Chinese Cooking. In the Vietnamese repertoire, such foods belong in the immense category of bánh. Similarly, kuih is the Malay term attached to a large category of savory and sweet cakes, pastries, and dumplings. An Indian vada can be described as a fritter, doughnut, cake, or dumpling.

Ambiguity aside, all dumplings share certain characteristics. They are simple foods with few social pretensions. On occasion they feature meat or seafood, but for the most part, they involve dough made from staple grains, legumes, or vegetables, along with water, salt, and, sometimes, leaven. It is the humble nature of dumplings that steals people’s hearts.

After spending much time pondering, researching, and preparing these foods, I can conclude that for the purposes of this book, Asian dumplings include savory and sweet dishes that are made from balls of dough, or are small parcels of food encased in pastry, dough, batter, or leaves. As you can imagine, there are endless possibilities, and the recipes herein offer a broad sampling to hone your skills and whet your appetite for more.


Why Make Wrappers from Scratch?

Commercially made wonton, pot sticker, egg roll, and spring roll skins are readily available in the refrigerated section of most supermarkets, but there is a marked difference in the end results when you make the wrappers from scratch. Many cooks cannot fathom preparing Asian dumplings without the store-bought skins; but in fact, there are Asian cooks who could not imagine dumplings without homemade ones.

I could not present a pan-Asian collection of dumplings if the focus was on pre-made wrappers because that would narrowly limit recipes to certain Chinese or Chinese-inspired preparations. The world of Asian dumplings is vast, and you can only begin to taste and experience the multitude of dumplings if you venture beyond the skins available on grocery store shelves. Asian dumpling masters, whether professionals or home cooks, take pride in making their own skins and dough. With a little guidance, you can too. Additionally, after you’ve made dumplings from scratch, you will become a more informed dumpling diner, as you’ll have a deeper understanding of what goes into making stupendous ones.

Fresh wrappers are easier to prepare and to work with than people think, as they do not need to be moistened to seal. They also stretch and are very forgiving, yielding to your pulling, pleating, and pinching. Surprisingly, many dough ingredients are available at regular supermarkets, while specialty flours and starches are standard items at Asian markets. You may not always have time to make dumpling wrappers from scratch, which is why there are “Lazy Day Tips” scattered in this book to guide you when you want to substitute store-bought skins.


A Cook’s Guide to This Book

To direct you toward success, the recipes in this book are arranged in a progressive manner. Chapters are organized by dough types to help you focus and develop your skills. A master dough or batter recipe often leads, and recipes with different fillings and cooking methods follow.

The collection begins with dumplings encased in a basic wrapper made of all-purpose flour and water. If you then add egg, leaven or fat, you can create more complex doughs for knockout thin wonton skins, pillowy stuff-ed buns, and flaky pastries. After the section on dumplings based on wheat-flour dough, subsequent chapters focus on dumplings that employ less familiar ingredients, such as wheat starch, tapioca starch, and legumes and tubers. Interspersed among those recipes are a few that use banana leaf as an inedible wrapper that imparts special fragrance and flavor. See “Tips for Success” on page 19 for specific hints on using the recipes.

Use the drawings in this book to help you shape dumplings, but also look online at Asiandumplingtips.com for additional assistance in the form of photos and video. You’ll be able to obtain extra information, pose questions, and share knowledge.


Essential and Handy Equipment

You will need basic kitchen equipment and a few modestly priced additions to prepare the recipes in this book. Sharp knives make fast work of prepping filling ingredients; the Japanese-style santoku and usuba knives are great for producing thin slices and fine cuts. A food processor, an electric mini-chopper, and a spice grinder (or electric coffee grinder reserved for spices) are all great time-savers for making dumplings.

To this battery of equipment, I encourage you to add three essential tools for preparing Asian dumplings: a wooden-dowel rolling pin, a Chinese steamer, and a scale.

Wooden-Dowel Rolling Pin
Producing delicate round wrappers for dumplings is faster and much easier with a skinny, ligh...
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