I recently got the cookbook Asian Dumplings: Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas and More, by Andrea Nguyen. Before going into my experiences with the book, a little bit about me and my relationship with cookbooks. I am a reformed cookbook-junkie. I used to buy cookbooks constantly. And, to my credit, I do use most of them. I must admit, however, that I could probably cook a different recipe every day for the next 50 years and not repeat one. And there are a couple that I have never used. The least-used ones tend to be Asian cuisines. This is not because of lack of interest or desire, or even difficulty; I love a culinary challenge. It's the ingredients. I can tell you with certainty that there isn't a banana leaf or a tube of shrimp paste within 100 miles of Alma, CO. So, now I do my homework before buying a cookbook. If any reviewer warns of hard-to-find ingredients, I steer clear. I first heard of this book when I heard the author interviewed on The Splendid Table. She talked about how making dumplings was easy and fun...even the dough! I was skeptical, but up for the challenge, so I printed out the recipe from The Splendid Table, recruited husband and daughter, and got to work. We made the Fish and Chinese Chive Dumplings. They were delicious! The dough was actually easy make, and so much tastier than store-bought. And, we had a (somewhat) fun family night of cooking together. So, I was convinced; I bought the book. Our next attempt was the Japanese Pork and Shrimp Pot Stickers. Same dough, the Basic Dumpling Dough. I prepared the filling as I watched my chef husband and tenacious six-year old argue over the thickness of the wrappers. Once again, success. And we had fun; so much so, that my husband suggested that we make Saturday night dumplings a weekly event! (It also works out well for Sundays, as we always have enough left over to have with football!) We paired the pot stickers with an inexpensive, but pleasant Sake, Moonstone Asian Pear. I was a little nervous about the pear infusion; fruit infused liquors can be so obnoxious. But, the pear was very subtle, and the Sake was very nice with the meal. I think next we'll try Samosas or maybe something with a rice flour dough.
I urge you to try it yourself. It really is not that hard. And who couldn't use a little extra family-bonding time? Ms. Nguyen also has a very nice blog, Asian Dumpling Tips. It has quite a lot of recipes, if you're curious, but don't want to invest in the book just yet.
If it sounds good, but you know that you'll just never do it, stop by our house on a Saturday night. We may put you to work, but we'll feed you well!