by Andrea Nguyen
I have many cookery books in my collection that contain dumpling recipes, but this is the first one I ever purchased that is dedicated to the topic exclusively. It is a very nice resource, particularly for the beginner, as it compiles a wide variety of dumpling recipes from many countries into one convenient collection.
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 group her recipe collection by dumpling type which, I think, is a much better idea. Her chapters are organized as follows:
All told, here 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. I am especially fond of the easy-to-make ‘Pork and Napa Cabbage Water Dumplings’, and I was especially pleased with the clear instructions Ms. Nguyen gives for the much trickier Shanghai style soup dumplings known as Xiǎolóngbāo.
Some reviews I have read complain that the book is not comprehensive enough and that there are too few recipes, 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.
My only complaint, if it can be called that, is that the illustrations are a bit limited. There are some nice color plates that are definitely very pretty, but they are not especially instructive and the line drawings that are included to show how to fold the various types of dumplings are not all that helpful. In compensation for that, however, the book does provide a WEBLINK 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.
To conclude, if you have never tried your hand at making any sort of Asian dumplings and are looking for a good resource for beginners, then this is the book to get you started… if you*do* have experience, you will still find something interesting and useful in this terrific little compendium of recipes.