Review: Asian Dumplings
by Andrea Nguyen
2009: Ten Speed Press ISBN-13: 978-1580089753
I have many cookery books in my collection that contain dumpling recipes of various types, and quite a number dealing with dim sum that are heavily oriented towards dumplings in general. This book is a very nice resource as it compiles a wide variety of dumpling recipes from many countries into one convenient collection…
Content and Organization
Many authors writing a book about dumplings from all across Asia and the pacific might be tempted to deal with the various types by country but Ms. Nguyen has elected to organize her recipe collection by dumpling type which, I think, is a much better idea.
There are 94 recipes covering some familiar dim sum type offerings as ‘Shu Mai’ and ‘Har Gow’ as well as a lot of less well know dumpling types such as ‘Mongolian Meat and Caraway Pockets’ and ‘Khasi Momo’ from Nepal. There is brief introduction giving information about ingredients, equipment and cookery techniques and Ms. Nguyen offers some useful recommendations for product purchases. The final chapter includes a few recipes for stocks and a handful useful examples of sauces and chutneys to accompany the various dumplings. There are some nice illustrations throughout the book, although not for every recipe, and also included are some line drawings showing the various techniques for dumpling formation.
Some reviews I have read complain that the book is not comprehensive enough and that there are too few recipes. More recipes would have been nicer, of course, but I think that this criticism is a bit unfair. It is true that this book does not include anything like all the possible varieties of dumpling types, but Ms. Nguyen has only set out to provide a general overview and I think she accomplishes this very well.
The dearth of illustrations is a bit of a negative, as it always is with cookery books, and the line drawings are not terribly good. However, Ms. Nguyen includes a web-link to a site containing a lot of supplementary information and videos that demonstrate the techniques she describes in the text. This is a great resource and free even for those who have not purchased the book.
The book certainly would have been better with more illustrations and with photographs instead of line drawings showing the reader how to wrap and fold dumpling skins, but, despite this, I found the book to be a very useful reference and one that should grace the library of all those with an interest in Asian cuisine.