Andrea Ngyuen’s Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyōza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More had me reminiscing of my time living in China, eating stuffed steam buns for breakfast and fried dumplings late at night from a street vendor that hung around when everyone else had cleared the roads outside my apartment. Nguyen does an excellent job describing different kinds of dumplings, buns, rolls/wraps, and pastries from East, Southeast, and South Asia. Actually, it made me a little homesick.
There are some beautiful pictures here, but a whole lot of text. I hesitated in picking this one up because I wasn’t sure it would bridge the cookbook/coffee table book gap I enjoy, but I got it anyway. I’m glad I did! (After all, one can only have so many pictures of the same dumpling wrap—the camera doesn’t capture the varietal tastiness inside!) The number and variety of recipes reminded me of a dumpling house I used to frequent. The first time I went I was handed a six-page menu with scores of dumplings—only dumplings! The restaurant served nothing else—well, they did have water and tea. It took me back to times when my students were so excited to take me to a “dessert store” to try Chinese sweets, none of which qualified in my mind as “dessert.” (You can find a recipe for the famous red bean paste used in these “desserts” in this book, which I appreciate, but still won’t be preparing myself.) And then there are my favorite Vietnamese spring rolls, filling wonton soups, sesame seed balls, and…and… Seriously, there’s a lot here.
Perhaps most important lessons found herein are the teachings of how to prepare the dough (wheat, rice, tapioca, legume, tuber, etc.) and foundation for each theme. (There are “Lazy Day Tips” provided for those who wish to use store-bought varieties, though it is strongly encouraged to work from scratch for best results.) With these, all one needs is a little imagination and inspiration and these can quickly become Italian, Mexican, Hungarian, Polish, or whatever ethnic flavor palate one desires. Of course, one can choose from the scores of amazing recipes herein, too!
A small cherry on top of this dish is a final chapter on dips and sauces that are invaluable when looking for that final bit of authenticity with a number of these recipes, but you’ll likely find yourself wanting to use them well beyond these borders!
Now I just need to figure out which to cook first!
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.