Asian Dumplings a Book Review

9781580089753Since my soy allergy reared it’s ugly head over 20 years ago I’ve schemed and tested to recreate the Asian flavors I was introduced to through friends and family.

From sushi to pancit I was feasting on it all and it came to a crushing halt one awful uncomfortable day.

As a result of my allergy I delved deeper into cooking from scratch and with my mother’s help came up with some passable recreations.

A lot of delicious Asian dishes come tucked in delicious wraps of all sorts from crunch to soft. So when I was this book, Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen I was excited to dive in.

About Asian Dumplings

Nguyen is a celebrated food writer and teacher with a unique ability to interpret authentic Asian cooking styles for a Western audience. Her crystal-clear recipes for more than 75 of Asia’s most popular savory and sweet parcels, pockets, packages, and pastries range from Lumpia (the addictive fried spring rolls from the Philippines) to Shanghai Soup Dumplings (delicate thin-skinned dumplings filled with hot broth and succulent pork) to Gulab Jamun (India’s rich, syrupy sweets).

Organized according to type (wheat pastas, skins, buns, and pastries; translucent wheat and tapioca preparations; rice dumplings; legumes and tubers; sweet dumplings), Asian Dumplings encompasses Eastern, Southeastern, and Southern Asia, with recipes from China, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Tibet, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Throughout, Nguyen shares the best techniques for shaping, filling, cooking, and serving each kind of dumpling. And she makes it easy to incorporate dumplings into a contemporary lifestyle by giving a thorough introduction to essential equipment and ingredients and offering make-ahead and storage guidance, time-saving shortcuts that still yield delectable results, and tips on planning a dumpling dinner party.

Testing the Recipes

Asian Dumplings is not for the faint of heart. Nguyen means for you to make the various dumplings, sometimes in the traditional way. You may need to buy a few accouterments to accomplish a few of them and a few specialty ingredients that may be out of your shopping area.

To prepare one of these recipes I called in the big guns, my mother. She first introduced me to Asian food through some recipes her coworkers shared with her when I was in grade school.

Since then it’s been one lovely taste treat after another.

We often cook together and she had been interested in making some Chinese oven pork buns, or Baked Filled Buns, or Ju’ Bao as they are called in the book.

The meat is difficult to find so she substituted turkey neck meat mixed with some chopped celery and chopped onion mixed with soy sauce (for me coconut aminos are used instead of soy sauce) and a little onion.  The end result was a very similar flavor to the suggested meat in the recipe book.
Now the hard part comes in with the way the recipe in the book suggested making the rounded batter circles. It seems (according to my mom) to make no sense for the modern cook experienced or not.  I didn’t quite agree. I just felt they were one way to make dough circles. Nguyen has you to roll out a cylinder, cut it into pieces, flatten them, and then wrap the filling with the circle.  My mother instead recommends rolling out half of the batter with a rolling pin and using a biscuit cutter or water glass to cut out the rounds.  She says it is faster, and easier to get the similar sizes that way.

My Thoughts

(I think) this is a cookbook for one familiar with Asian fare and pretty comfortable in the kitchen. You want to recreate those amazing flavors you’ve tasted in restaurants or at a friend’s home. And this cookbook will help you do just that.

Even though it would help you to know what your finished product should taste like Nugyen gives such detailed instructions you can’t go wrong.

The instructions in Asian Dumplings are very detailed and the accompanying line drawings help you to get the steps right to produce your dumplings.

There’s a wide variety of cultures represented and depending upon where you live you might have a little difficulty obtaining some ingredients. But then that’s what the internet is for, right?

If you’ve had enough of grocery store wrappers this book will take you on a journey through Asia to make your own.

While initially this will not be a set of 30 minute meals for your busy weeknight dinners I believe that with practice it may be.

You can purchase Asian Dumplings online at Amazon.com

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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2 Comments

  1. Interesting sounding, Kemi. I have a soy allergy, too. I’d love to know what you were talking about when you said “coconut aminos” replaced soy sauce for you. I’ve never heard of that. Both my daughter and I have a soy allergy, along with some others. Were there many recipes in this book without wheat or corn in the wrappers? Thanks for a new introduction.

    1. Thanks Lori. The Coconut Aminos are usually found with the vinegars or ethnic foods in the grocery store. Here is the brand website Coconut Secret. You can also find them online. It’s not quite as strong as soy sauce but it works very well in Asian dishes. My mom has my book now (she’s hugging it tight) so I can’t tell you for sure about the ingredients. The buns she made were with wheat. We’ll have to share soy-free recipes. I’m headed to her house tomorrow so I’ll try and remember to grab the book.

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