Author: Kenny Lao
I. Love. Dumplings.
I love the way they look, I love the way they taste, I love how many different fillings they can have, and I even love how messy they can be to eat. I’m really lucky to work where I do, as just about every second shop around sells dumplings. I have one place I go to specifically for dumplings in soup, and another one for eating dumpings not in soup.
One thing I’ve never done is try to make my own dumplings. I mean, why would I when I basically work in dumpling central? And there are tons of places where I can go pick up perfectly good frozen dumplings if I want to stuff my face in the comfort of my own home. But it’s been a while since I tried cooking something new, so when I saw Kenny Lao’s Hey There, Dumpling! on NetGalley, it seemed like a sign.
The cookbook itself is seriously fun. I love Kenny Lao’s conversational writing and there are lots of great pictures of dumplings to drool over. There are heaps of different dumpling flavours, as well as noodle, salad, dessert, and drink recipes – basically everything you need to have the best dumpling party ever. And even though it’s fun, it’s also super informative. It includes:
- a few pages of different ways to fold the dumplings, including little pictures and step-by-step instructions;
- freezing tips! Which I love because if I can make a huge batch of dumplings and freeze them for a lazy day, then I want to know about it; and
- there’s a dip and dumpling chart at the back of the book so you can find the perfect dip to accompany your dumpling – very important.
Naturally I had to test some recipes (for your benefit) (did you even believe that?). I made three types of dumplings, trying a different fold and method of cooking on each. I was going to make some dipping sauces as well but I got excited to eat the dumplings and forgot about the sauces. Whoops. These are the dumplings I made:
❊ Mum’s Cilantro (Coriander) and Pork Dumplings (pan-fried with a buddha belly fold)
❊ Lemongrass-Lime Beef Dumplings (steamed with a half-moon fold)
❊ Pea Shoots and Leek Dumplings (boiled with a tortellini fold)
So how’d I go? Pretty well I think. I found the preparation of ingredients time consuming, but it was really just a lot of chopping and was actually quite therapeutic. The instructions and diagrams for folding the dumplings were really easy to follow, and while the first few I made didn’t look that great, there was a definite improvement in looks by the time I’d folded the last ones. Flavour-wise, the pork and coriander ones were definitely my favourite (but I’m a HUGE fan of coriander so I’m not really surprised by that). The Lemongrass-Lime Beef were delicious as well and I especially liked how juicy they were after steaming. My vegetarian option (Pea Shoots and Leek) I had in a soup I made with a store bought chicken consommé (I made my own dumplings so I figured it was ok to cheat on the soup), some vermicelli noodles and chopped pak choy. These were nice also, but I didn’t enjoy them quite as much as the other two.
If you love dumplings and you love cooking at home then you can’t go past this book. Not only was it fun to read but it was fun making the dumplings too – definitely worth the entire day spent in the kitchen chopping, mixing, and folding. And making them at home is cheaper as well – they worked out at about AUD$1 each; if I buy dumplings out they are usually anywhere from AUD$1.20 – $1.60 each. So long story short, you get to have fun making dumplings, eating them, and saving money as you do so. What’s not to love?
And now for your viewing pleasure, here are some pictures of my dumplings: