Disclosure: The lovely folks at Page Street Publishing sent me a copy of Dumplings All Day Wong to review. Thanks, guys! Any links to the book are affiliate links.
I am not a patient person. That’s why I don’t make a lot of cookies.
There’s all that scooping and baking sheet after sheet. And God forbid I have to decorate a cookie. Every cookie. One at a time. Until I want to stab myself. Many folks find repetitive activities–knit one, purl two; cutting out cookies; rolling truffle–to be calming and soothing. They say it takes them to a place where they no longer even have to think about what they’re doing, freeing their minds for deep thought or contemplation.
For me, it just makes me feel stabby.
Another delicious recipe to try is my ghoriba bahla (Moroccan shortbread) recipe.
For ease of browsing, see all of my cookie recipes here
Because I have this aversion to repetitive motion–maybe it comes from having to make a billion cheese biscuits every day at the restaurant–I was a little hesitant about reviewing Dumplings All Day Wong. Because I knew I’d have to actually make dumplings. Including the dough. And rolling it all out into wee circles.
Then I remembered how much I adore the few types of Chinese dumplings I’ve had before. Steamed or fried, and usually filled with some sort of pork mixture, I really can’t get enough of the texture or the flavors. The chewiness, the juiciness. Oh! And then I remembered that because I don’t usually enjoy repetitive tasks, I have never given anyone a sweater I’ve knitted, because I’ve never knitted a sweater. We don’t enjoy decorated cookies on holidays, because I don’t make decorated cookies. And the last truffles I made were for the restaurant.
So I said yes.
Dumplings All Day Wong
I’m so glad that I did, because while it was fairly tedious to roll and fold each wee dumpling, there is something that is kind of magical about the end product. And I learned a lot. I got to make a lightly sesame-scented dough made with boiling water. I got to make frangipane, which I haven’t made in ages. I got to deep fry, which is always fun because of the Danger Factor. And I got to sieve powdered sugar all over these warm treats, and then shove them in my face.
It should come as no surprise to you, given my aversion to repetition, that I didn’t know much about making dumplings. And now I know a ton about it. Because of this book. Lee Anne Wong’s tone is so inviting, casual and helpful that you really do feel like you can’t mess up. And she does say that, as long as the dumplings are completely sealed, they will still taste delicious, even if they won’t make the cover of Dumplings Monthly.
I expect one subject cookbooks to serve as an encyclopedia for pretty much everything there is to know about that one subject, and Dumplings All Day Wong doesn’t disappoint. The chapters are arranged by dumpling shape, with great step-by-step photos of how to complete the different types of folds. Within each chapter, the fillings range widely from more traditional Chinese offerings of my beloved pork dumplings and potstickers to more fusion-y types of dumplings like Brussels sprouts and bacon dumplings and Korean fried chicken dumplings.
Run-down of the Chapters
Let me give you a quick run-down of the chapters and how they’re set up:
- Tools and Techniques–everything from gadgets to knife cuts to a rundown of the different dumpling cooking techniques
- Dough-How: Choosing the Right Dumpling Wrapper–information on pre-made wrappers and recipes for how to make several types of dumpling dough, all with step-by-step photographs
All the dumpling chapters all start with tutorials on how to fold each type. I’m including a sampling of the recipes from each chapter:
- Classic Folds: Potstickers, Gyoza, Mandu and More–Mushroom and Truffle Dumplings, Mixed Seafood Dumplings, Thanksgiving Dumplings, Miso Duck and Ricotta Dumplings with Stone Fruit Salad
- Cup-Shaped Fold: Shumai–Pork and Shrimp Shumai, Lamb Satay Shumai, Paella Shumai
- Multi-Pleat Fold: Har Gow–Lobster and Kaffir Lime Har Gow, Green Tea and Red Bean Har Gow
- Round Fold/Puck-Shaped Fold–Ahi Dumplings with Avocado, BBQ Chicken Dumplings, Lamb and Scallion Dumplings
- Parcel Fold: Bo Choy Gau–Ginger Crab Rangoon Dumpling s with Sweet and Sour Sauce, Black Sesame Peanut Butter Dumplings, Toasted Almond Cookie Dumplings (what I made)
- Wontons–Panang Curry Wontons, Hamburger Wontons with Lychee Ketchup, Sweet Cheese and Date Wontons, Chocolate Bacon Wontons with Caramel Sabayon
- Soup Dumplings: Xiaolongbao–Pork and Crab Soup Dumplings, Tom Yum Soup Dumplings
- Bao–Char Siu Bao (Barbecue Roast Pork Buns), Peking Duck Bao
- Exotic Styles–Fried Mochi Pork Dumplings, Scotch Egg Dumplings, Steamed Chicken and Rice Dumplings
- Stocks, Dipping Sauces and Condiments–An excellent collection of recipes for Asian dipping sauce from Sweet and Sour to Miso to Nuoc Cham.
- The Asian Pantry–A glossary offering helpful definitions of Asian pantry staples.
Toasted Almond Cookie Dumplings
I of course chose to make a dessert dumpling. This idea alone helped expand my definition of dumplings.
Even though Wong says that we can start with purchased dumpling wrappers, since the dough is such an integral part of the dumpling I wanted to make sure to give the dough a spin too. For the purpose of a review, making dumplings from a dumpling cookbook without making the dumpling dough would be like trying to review a pizza cookbook using Boboli.
And thus I found myself kneading very hot dough until it was smooth, elastic and not at all sticky. My dough actually ended up being a touch sticky, so I rolled my wrappers on a floured surface. I think had I kneaded a bit longer the dough I thought was too dry would have come together nicely as the flour hydrated. Otherwise, the preparation method was very straightforward, and the dough smoothed out beautifully during its rest on the counter (anywhere from 15 minutes to 3 hours. Mine rested for close to 3 hours and was definitely more sticky once I unwrapped it).
The filling was also very easy to make. The ingredient amounts are listed in both volume and grams, and it called for 1/2 cup of sliced almonds with 85g in parentheses. I began weighing and quickly realized that 85 grams was a lot more than 1/2 cup. I measured out 1/2 cup, and it weighed 55 grams. Since the book is meant primarily for American audiences who don’t use scales very often, I went with the volume measure. The recipe states that it makes enough to fill 40 dumplings at about 1 Tablespoon of filling per dumpling. I had enough filling for 23 dumplings. I’m not sure why the huge discrepancy, but I’m fairly certain I didn’t use too much filling in my guys. It’s no big deal, because honestly, by the time I’d rolled and folded 23 dumplings, I was more than ready to be done with that part!
If you’re a dumpling ace, you will be fine. If you’re like me and a dumpling novice, know that it will take you a bit of time to roll, fill and fold each dumpling. Lee Anne Wong says she can fold 6 dumplings a minute. Bully for her. It took me about 2 minutes per dumpling, including the rolling. If you are using pre-made dough, still count on about 30 seconds to 1 minute per dumpling. You might want to grab a friend or three to help. Or if you are one of those people who goes to their happy place while doing repetitive tasks, enjoy your hour or so of Zen.
Of the 23 dumplings that I folded–some in a triangle fold and some in parcel fold (4 folds)–four of them fell apart in spectacular fashion in the hot oil. It was probably a combination of not having a good enough seal and letting some air be trapped inside the dough.
Do yourself a favor and press out as much air as you can when folding and sealing, and make sure your seams are really deep to save yourself the sadness. Still, 19 dumplings all golden, crispy, chewy and sweet? I was pretty happy! If you are an almond fan, you will definitely love these little guys.
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Basic Dumpling Dough
- ¾ to 1 cup (175-235 ml) water
- 2 cups 300g all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tsp sesame or vegetable oil
- Bring the water to a boil in a small pot over high heat. Remove from the heat and allow the water to sit for 1 minute. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour ¾ cup (175 ml) of the hot water and the sesame oil into the well and stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated with the flour. Add more water by the teaspoon as necessary to make the dough come together; there will be small lumpy pieces but the dough should not be sticky. Gently bring the warm dough together in the bowl by kneading the pieces until you get a large mass.
- If using a food processor, place the flour and salt in the bowl and turn the machine on, adding the hot water and oil to the flour in a thin, steady stream until it is all incorporated. Stop the food processor immediately and check that the dough has come together and is soft and pliable. If it is too dry, add water by the teaspoonful, pulsing the food processor, until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead into a uniform, soft, smooth mass, about 30 seconds to a minute for machine-made dough and 2 to 3 minutes for handmade dough. The dough will be smooth and elastic and feel very dense but pliable. It should not be sticky at all and bounces back slowly when you press your finger into it, leaving a shallow impression of your finger.
- Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or place in a resealable plastic bag. Allow the dough to rest for at least 15 minutes and up to 3 hours at room temperature. At this point you can make your wrappers or refrigerate your dough for up to 2 days. Before using, allow your dough to warm up to room temperature, as it will be easier to manipulate.
Did You Make Any Changes?
Hopefully I’ve convinced you that this is a book you want to own, especially if you are a fan of Asian flavors and techniques, of Lee Anne Wong herself (whose personality shines through on every page) and/or of repetitive tasks that yield tasty results.
Thanks so much for spending some time here today. Take care, and have a lovely day.
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