The Most Popular Asian Food: Dumplings

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Dumplings are perhaps one of the most humble Asian food that has spread around the globe. These little savoury bundles of joy have captured so many people’s hearts.

asian food

If you go to dim sum restaurants, you will see many carts with steaming bamboo baskets stacked on top. These are dumplings being steamed.

Dumplings have been favored by so many people all over the world. I have loved dumplings since I was a kid. Dumplings act as our family bonding delicacies.

Many Asian food have gained popularity around the world nowadays. Starting from fried rice, gong bao chicken, beef stir-fry, and many more have rooted deeply in so many people’s minds from young to old.

Dumplings are cute little savory delights with meat and vegetables inside. They hold significant cultural meaning in many Asian societies.

The shape of dumplings resemble ancient gold ingots. That’s why dumplings are said to symbolize wealth and prosperity.

Making dumplings can offer an opportunity for family bonding. This is what I saw when I lived in Taiwan, especially during Chinese New Year. A day before the celebrations, families make dumplings together.

The Diversity of Dumplings in Asia.

In this article I want to cover the dumplings in Asia.

Chinese Dumplings

There are many varieties in Chinese dumplings you can find in dim sum restaurants like Har Gao, Wontons, Shumai, Potstickers, Rice Dumplings.

Korean Dumplings

In Korea dumplings are called Mandu. They are similar to Chinese potstickers.

Japanese Dumplings

are popular by the names gyoza.

Indian Dumplings

Samosa with beef fillings.

Types of Dumplings

As mentioned above, there are many types of dumplings in Chinese culinary. Based on the taste, I group them into two categories:

1. Savoury Dumplings

Most savoury dumplings have thin skin made of wheat. The filling is ground meat with chopped vegetables like cabbage, onion, and leeks. They are well seasoned and stuffed inside the thin wrappers.

These savoury dumplings are so varied in skin and fillings. Rice dumplings are made of glutinous rice flour and seasoned meat fillings inside. They are wrapped with bamboo leaves and boiled for hours.

rice dumplings
Rice Dumplings

Xiao Long Bao is considered Tang Bao with broth inside the wrappers.

asian food xiao long bao
Xiao Long Bao

2. Sweet Dumplings

Chinese people make sweet dumplings (湯圓) during Lantern Festival to symbolize the gathering of families. Sweet dumplings (湯圓 Tang Yuan) are made with glutinous rice flour, so the skin is thicker and chewy. Served in a bowl of sugar water during winter to warm people’s hearts.

sweet dumplings
Sweet Dumplings

People in China and overseas Chinese in Indonesia eat sweet dumplings during Winter Solstice as a symbol of unity.

Methods of Cooking

The methods of cooking for dumplings vary for each dumplings, depending on the skin, fillings, and shapes.

Below are the common cooking techniques used to make dumplings:

Steaming

Dumplings are mostly steamed in a bamboo basket on top of simmering water. You can see this in Dim Sum restaurants.

Steamed dumplings have delicate and moist texture with translucent wrappers showing the insides. Xiao Long Bao, Shumai, Har Gao are the popular ones.

shumai pork shrimp
Steaming Shumai

Boiling

Wontons are popular boiled dumplings. Seasoned ground meat with thin wonton wrappers dipped into boiling water until they float.

Boiling method makes the wontons very delicate and soft. Seasoned chicken broth with vegetables compliment the boiled wontons in a bowl.

During Chinese New Year, Jiao Zi are the famous boiled dumplings served. Hong Kong is known for its Wonton Soup. The wrappers are so thin, it feels so soft inside the mouth.

Pan-frying

Gyoza or potstickers or Guo Tie use pan-frying technique. They are lined up in a pan with cooking oil and then showered with a little water or broth.

Pan-frying method makes the skin moist yet crispy at the bottom with juice fillings.

chicken shrimp gyoza

Deep-frying

The dumplings are dipped into hot oil until the wrappers are crispy and golden brown color. Fried wontons are popular deep-fried dumplings in Asia. In Indian cuisine, there is samosa the deep-fried dumplings.

Deep-frying dumplings creates crunchy texture on the outside and juicy fillings inside. Deep-fried wontons are best eaten after they are fried when the skin is still crunchy.

Fried wonton
Deep-frying Wontons
deep-fried dumplings
Deep-fried Dumplings

Dipping Sauce and Condiments

Dipping sauce for dumplings can be as important as the dumpling itself. It serves to compliment the dumpling flavors.

Below are most commons dipping sauce that can be mixed to create delicious sauce:

  1. Soy sauce
  2. Black vinegar
  3. Chili oil
  4. Sesame oil
  5. Hoisin sauce
  6. Chili sauce
  7. Peanut sauce
  8. Fresh ginger with soy sauce
  9. Chopped garlic

Homemade vs Store-Bought

Nowadays with the popularity of dumplings everywhere, you can easily find the store-bought dumpling in the groceries. They are in the frozen section, packed nicely with cooking instruction.

If you decide to make your own dumplings at home, you can do so with a lot of benefits. They are pretty easy to make and you get to control the ingredients. Another plus side is by making dumplings with your family at home you create a nice opportunity for family bonding.

Here are Fried Wonton recipe, Shumai recipe, and Potstickers (Gyoza) recipe you can make at home. I have tried all of them and my family and friends love them so much.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) About Dumplings

Here are some questions commonly asked about these popular Asian food.

Q: What are the popular types of dumplings?

A: Asian dumplings come in many forms like Chinese Jiaozi, Japanese Gyoza, Korean Mandu, Xiao Long Bao, Har Gao, Tang Yuan. Each has its own unique filings and cooking technique.

Q: What are the traditional fillings for Asian dumplings?

A: The fillings for dumplings include minced pork, beef, chicken, shrimp with chopped vegetables like cabbage, chives, or mushrooms.

Q: Can dumplings be made in advance?

A: Yes, you can prepare dumplings in advance and freeze them. Line them up on a tray with parchment paper. Give them space to avoid sticking to each other. When they are solid, transfer to containers or plastic bags.

Q: Can dumplings be made vegetarian or vegan?

A: Yes, they can. The fillings can be tofu, mushrooms, carrots, cabbage for vegetarians and vegans.

Conclusion

Asian cuisine are becoming more and more popular for its taste and diversity. Many people immediately like them after first try. Dumplings as the most popular Asian food have the ability to bring people together with their taste and cultural meaning.

I hope you enjoy dumplings as much as I do!

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