Photo by Oriental Tea House
5 Yummy Bite-Size Facts About Dumplings
By Co-Lab Pantry
Dumplings are loved all over the world. We’d gladly take a generous serving of these cute little dough balls any day (with a bowl of chicken stir fry noodles or cold salad, yum!). As a universal comfort food, dumplings come in different shapes, sizes, and tastes. So, there’s a lot of exciting flavours to experience once you grab a bite of this dainty morsel.
Here are 5 yummy facts about dumplings (prepare for cravings now!):
1. The origins of dumplings can be traced back to the ancient Eastern Han Dynasty in China.
You can include dumplings in the list of ancient foods (along with chocolate, popcorn and cheesecake!) we still eat to this day (pretty cool, right?). According to a well-known Chinese legend, a man named Zhang Zhongjing invented Dumplings for the poor people in his hometown who had frostbite in their ears. Of course, it wasn’t called dumplings at the time. Zhongjing decided to cook lamb with chilis and herbs. Next, he wrapped it in dough skin and made several ear-shaped pieces. Then, he boiled the stuffed pieces and gave them to the people. It’s comforting to imagine that the origins of dumplings came from Zhongjing’s compassionate act (aww). Dumplings are called jiaozi in Chinese, referring to the boiled wrapped minced meat and vegetable in dough skin. Food historians believe that the term “dumpling” first appeared in the English text in the 17th century.
2. Dumplings are found in every regional cuisine across the globe.
Dumplings are strongly associated with Chinese cuisine. However, “dumpling” generally means a pocket of dough piece filled with savoury stuffing. So, think of every wrap or stuffed pockets you can name— empanada, samosa and tamales among others. Even the Italian pasta dishes ravioli and tortellini are considered dumplings! Here are some of the few versions of dumplings in different parts of the world:
- Mandu (Korea) - the stuffing is made from ground pork, kimchi, tofu and vegetables
- Gyoza (Japan) - a popular Japanese dumpling filled with minced meat, mushroom, cabbage, scallions, garlic and ginger
- Banh Bot Loc (Vietnam) - the transparent wrap is made from tapioca flour stuffed with pork belly and chicken
- Kofte (Eastern Mediterranean region) - also known as Kubbeh with the stuffing made from ground meat, minced onion, bulgur and spices
- Coxinhas (Brazil) - a deep fried thick dough filled with shredded chicken
- Manti (Turkey) - the stuffing is made from ground lamb or beef served with yoghurt sauce
- Modak (India) - a teardrop-shaped dumpling filled with coconut and sugar. The wrap is made from rice flour and khoya (Indian curd)
3. There are 3 ways to cook dumplings.
Dumplings can be steamed, boiled or pan fried. The wrapper is basically made from wheat flour and water. The tasty filling is made from ground or minced meat such as pork, beef, chicken, lamb, seafood and finely chopped vegetables like carrots, spinach, onion, ginger. You can add mushrooms, cheese, tofu and fruits. Dumplings are dipped in sauce made of rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, chilli oil and minced garlic.
4. Chinese dumplings are crescent-shaped or pursed-shaped.
The crescent-shaped dumplings are called “gao” while the round, pursed-shaped dumplings are known as “bao”. Here are 5 common types of Chinese dumplings:
- Xiao Long Bao - a pursed-shaped dumpling that is also known as the “soup dumplings” because of the collagen-rich pork trimmings that melts and turns to liquefied gelatin when steamed.
- Siu Mai - a round basket-shaped dumpling with an open top
- Bao Zi - a dumpling that looks like a bun because of the thick dough wrapper
- Hun Dun - popularly known as wontons, it is a square dumpling that is boiled and served in noodle soup
- Har Gao - a juicy crescent-shaped dumpling served steamed. The wrapper is made from tapioca while the stuffing consists of shrimp and pork fat.
5. Dumplings should be eaten in one bite unless it’s a soup dumpling.
How do you consume a dumpling? Let us count the ways. The meat fillings in a dumpling is rich in flavour. Therefore, it should be eaten in one mouthful. Use chopsticks or eat with your fingers but never use a fork. Lastly, if it’s a soup dumpling like Xiao Long Bao, use chopsticks or your fingers to put the soup dumpling on a soup spoon. Let it cool for a few seconds as the broth may still be hot and burn your tongue. Take a small bite and sip the broth daintily, or suck the juice out from the skin. That’s how you eat a dumpling like a pro!
Where to order the best authentic dumplings
- Ginger Prawn Dumplings - 10 pcs, A$ 25
- Pan Fried Pork and Chives Dumplings - 10 pcs, A$ 25
- Steamed Pork Dumplings - 10 pcs, A$ 25
- Vegetarian Dumplings - 10 pcs, A$ 25
- Wagyu Beef Dumplings - 10 pcs, A$ 25
Co-Lab Pantry is an Australian online food and beverage retailer based in Melbourne. With over 150 of the best local restaurants, cafes and grocers as partners, we deliver ready-made meals, cocktails, pantry goods and produce to people’s homes across the nation.