Learn to Cook These 21 Types of Dumplings
Dumplings are universally delicious. They are also so much more than the greasy, squishy morsels delivered from the place around the corner. Cultures around the world have their own variety of dough wrapped around a tasty filling. Surprise your friends and yourself next time you’re in search of an appetizer: trying one of these recipes that range from Southern to South Asian.
1. Xiao long bao—Shanghai soup dumplings
Shanghai soup dumplings. You’ll definitely burn yourself eating them. You’ll finish cooking them; they’ll be steaming and perfect, and you won’t wait. They are too delicious. Your desire will overwhelm you, but then the incredible soup will gush out of them and singe your tongue, rendering you unable to taste the rest of the dumplings.
2. Svestkove Knedily
Czech plum dumplings—it’s almost as if they knew it would sound alliteratively appetizing in English! You can also use cherries, peaches, apricots, or any stone fruit. The recipe above describes these as a full dinner operation, which makes sense when you remember that each dumpling contains a whole fruit. Make sure to balance them out with some kale.
3. Stuffed Ebelskivers
These Danish “pancakes” are really balls of dough. They’re called pancakes because of the traditional Ebeskiver pan. Get it? Pan + dough = pancake! They’re light, fluffy, and compatible with sweet or savory fillings. Think Danish donut hole.
4. Spinach potato knish
Traditional Jewish dumplings. You have probably had a bland version of these somewhere at some time—the copious potatoes and ample dough require more salt than most people are comfortable with—but this recipe won’t let you down.
Georgian dumplings that are simple, hearty, and pretty easy to make relative to other dumplings. With a filling of ground beef, onions, and spices, these dumplings will taste at once familiar and foreign, delicate and hefty.
6. Ravioli and Gnocchi
We don’t often think of ravioli and gnocchi as dumplings, but what’s the appreciable difference? It’s soft dough stuffed with meat or cheese or mushrooms or seafood or dessert. The real discrepancy is that Italians serve ravioli in sauce and eat them with forks, whereas when we hear the word “dumplings,” we think of the Chinese finger food.
7. Steamed beef buns
Hawaii, or, the world’s largest Asian fusion restaurant. These dumplings are a variation on Chinese bao that have been brought to Hawaii then filled with all the wondrous things people eat there.
8. Sticky rice dumplings with chicken
A snack that will shine on your tongue like sun that brightens a Thai beach. In the interest of full disclosure, however, these do take a long time to prepare. You have to cook the rice then expertly use it to make the dumpling wrapper, not to mention making the filling. In the process, you will undoubtedly learn a great deal about making dumplings.
South Korean dough pockets filled with dreams. Spices, spices, spices, and onions. Though you may stick to Korean staples like bibimbap or sundubu when eating at Korean restaurants, try an appetizer of Mandu next time. Bonus: with tofu and kimchi as the filling, these dumplings are healthier than most.
Nepalese dumplings that will answer your prayers. I tried them a few weeks ago for the first time and haven’t been able to get enough. If the recipe’s call for “yak” doesn’t tip you off that these are incredible, maybe the spicy tomato and coriander sauce will.
11. Spicy Sichuan wontons
The Chinese words for this dish mean “Intense flavors that don’t hold back and don’t play games.” Served in a chili oil flavored with black peppercorns, these dumplings are not for the faint of heart but will reward the adventurous.
You’ve probably had samosas at Indian restaurants, but have you ever tried making them? It’s quite fun. There are so many different fillings, ways to cook them, and regional variations that you’ll never run out of novelty when creating this classic Indian appetizer.
When I was a child, I called these “mini Mexican calzones” because my family ate Italian food more often than Mexican food. I have since grown to understand that while a calzone is merely a folded pizza, the empanada is a much more versatile food.
14. Chicken and dumplings
A Southern classic that will heal all your ills. Probably one of the foods that inspired the words “comfort food.” The perfect mix of crispy and creamy, crunchy and chewy. Your grandma probably made this for you if anybody did. If you’re having a bad week, day, or minute, it’s time for chicken and dumplings.
15. Banh bot loc
These Vietnamese dumplings seem engineered to replicate the appearance of their shrimp filling. The tapioca wrapping turns clear when boiled, unveiling the shrimp innards inside much like the clear exoskeleton of a shrimp. I wouldn’t be surprised if they sprouted small black eyeballs, too.
There are many types of dumplings for your main course or side dishes, but what about dessert? I’ve been talking about how there are so many dumplings other than the Chinese varieties (which come to American minds so readily), but with Tangyuan the Chinese show that they deserve first consideration when it comes to dumplings. Happy Chinese New Year!
This dish exemplifies Marco Polo’s fabled journey: East Asian dumplings fumbling their way through a Turkish yogurt sauce spiced with red pepper much as young Marco did through unfamiliar cultures.
A Japanese mochi dessert or snack dumpling that makes heavy use of sweetened red bean paste. Serve it with green tea. You can also make it with whole strawberries inside while they’re in season. If you’re feeling amazingly up to the task, try making your own mochi (video here).
A West and Central African specialty, fufu comes from yams pounded into dough then boiled. Stuff it with chicken or vegetables and serve with stew. If you’re ravenous, this dumpling is the one for you. Full does not even begin to describe how you’ll feel after eating fufu.
20. Pork gyoza with ginger sauce
Japanese dumplings you’ve probably seen on the menu at restaurants, gyoza are becoming more and more common in America. They usually contain minced pork, and if you make them yourself, you can freeze them for up to two weeks. Don’t skimp on the ginger sauce, whose sweetness balances the intense umami of the pork and soy.
A large bread dumpling that pairs beautifully with stew or vegetables, madombi is a staple of cuisine in Botswana. Beware of making too many or overloading your plate because the combination fills you up before you know it.
Ready to make dumplings with a professional chef? You’ll learn the secrets of making the wrappers that these recipes don’t tell you; you’ll learn variations on the fillings that will knock your taste buds flat; you’ll learn everything about dumplings you’ve ever dreamed of knowing. Learn how to create Russian piroshki, Indian samosas, or Italian ravioli with chefs who will encourage you each step of the way.