Story and photos: Wanda Chin
Pieces of dough that tightly encompass parcels of filling: dumplings! But delve a millimetre deeper and you’ll find that there are a million and one different variations around the world, although the Asian variety is the most tenacious in modern cuisine, and tenfold more ways to enjoy these cheap and cheerful little symbols of luck and fortune.
There are two ways to make dumplings (more specifically, won tons) at home, both of which are joyfully easy to make. You can either buy them frozen (they are actually superior to most other frozen foods so don’t write them off!) or you can plunge wrists-deep into it and make them lovingly by hand (this method yields a more delicious dumpling 100 per cent of the time). Purists can also make the dough wrappers from scratch quite simply.
You choose the filling, folding method and the way it is served. A conservative pan-fried pork and cabbage, a healthy spinach and mushroom in a clear broth or even oyster and chive steamed in a bamboo basket. I won’t even get started on the technical differences of the different types! Douse steaming hot dumplings in your own secret blend of vinegar and soy or eat them sauce-free. Whichever way this large-group dinner option is prepared, it will be a crowd pleaser.
Dumpling making is the perfect team-bonding activity, accommodating multiple pairs of hands whose owners can subsequently enjoy the fruit of their combined labour with revelry! They are usually served on a shared plate so even their consumption actively encourages interaction between diners. Chopstick ability comparisons are guaranteed be the first topic of conversation.
My favourite way to eat dumplings? I like them any way and in any setting, as long as I have exceptional company to share my food with.