Tag Archives: dumplings

Book Review: The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook, by Helen You

Four Views on HellThe Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook by Helen You is your new cookbook for Chinese dumplings made easy. With easy, step-by-step instructions, You (pronounced “yō”) guides readers through the basics of forming, shaping, and the three cooking methods of boiling, steaming, and panfrying. Full of traditional and innovative recipes (I can’t wait to try the pork and pu’er tea dumplings), You encourages the reader not only to follow her recipes, but to experiment and try new things, offering plenty of helpful tips for pairing ingredients and cooking methods, as well as tips for avoid dumplings that are too wet, too dry, and too chewy.

Surviving the hardships of China’s Cultural Revolution, You began making dumplings as a way to stay connected to her hometown. Fast-forward years later, she now has an innovative dumpling restaurant with a menu that boasts over one hundred items. Though we may not be able to visit the restaurant, You gives us the steps, tips, and encouragement to experience her passion right in our own homes.

This is a great little book for all current and future dumpling fanatics!

 

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

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Book Review: The Dim Sum Field Guide, by Carolyn Phillips

The Dim Sum Field GuideIf you’re looking for the best introduction to dim sum and the cuisine of many Chinese teahouses and specialty restaurants, then look no further than Carolyn PhillipsThe Dim Sum Field Guide. This educational tool and potential travel companion (roughly 6″x6″x3/4″ and easily stowed in a purse or bag) has been carefully thought out and formatted to provide anyone (I’d even include Chinese natives in this boat) with a solid foundation for an excellent dim sum experience! Of course, much of the cuisine is focused on what one may find in a Cantonese establishment, but that doesn’t mean all originated in the southeast region of mainland China.

 

Phillips begins with a little bit on categories of tea and etiquette for selection, ordering, serving, drinking, and paying in a traditional Chinese culture. She follows with the same for dim sum, but goes well beyond categories and into a plethora of specific savory and sweet types, noting further variations on each when applicable. Every item takes up two pages: the left page contain the English name and hand drawn sketch of the food, including estimated dimensions—helpful when determining how much to order given one’s appetite; and the right page includes the food’s name in Chinese characters, pinyin, and Cantonese, how to identify it, basic fillings and default sauces/dips when applicable, plating and arrangements, its origin (contestation acknowledged when applicable), and then some applicable varieties, each labeled in English, Chinese characters, pinyin, and Cantonese. Stylistically, I enjoy the sketches provided in this book over photographs, harking back to culinary texts of old—it also speaks to the time and care taken in the book’s planning, development, and execution.

Not only informative and useful as a point-and-order volume, this is sure to whet one’s appetite and encourage readers to experiment and try new things.

For the myriad of readers disappointed after having picked this up expecting a cookbook, which it certainly is not (Nor is it disappointing in the slightest when properly used), I highly recommend Carolyn Phillips’ All Under Heaven: Recipes from the 35 Cuisines of China, the best and most comprehensive Chinese cookbook I’ve ever seen, as well as Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyōza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More.

 

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

Book Review: Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyōza, Spring Rolls, Samosas, and More, by Andrea Nguyen

Asian DumplingsAndrea 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.