Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Book Review: "The Dumpling: A Seasonal Guide" By Wai Hon Chu and Connie Lovatt

(Wai Hon Chu in Action)

This past Thursday night the gang had the pleasure of heading over to our local Whole Foods where there was a dumpling class given by Wai Hon Chu and Connie Lovatt, the co-authors of this amazing cookbook! Our friend J.M. from Harper Collins informed us of this event, and inspired us to go. Needless to say, I was extremely excited to be there. I really wanted the book, and after getting it, I felt that meeting both of the authors, and learning how to make a dumpling dish all in one night, would motivate me to start using the recipes. Sure enough, not more than five minutes after we walked in the door, I was whisking together the soy vinegar sauce, pp.112. Very tasty might I add. We even used it as a chicken marinade the other night!

Back to Whole Foods, on the agenda was to learn how to make Vegetable Potsticker Dumplings. This would normally intimidate me, as I would feel that it would be virtually impossible for me to actually make something that would turn out as delicious and perfect as what Wai was demonstrating. As he began teaching us how to make the dipping sauce and the filling, I realized that this was a feasible dish for me to prepare. Wai was a very detailed, patient and fabulous teacher. After those two items were prepared, we learned how to make all different dumpling folds. There was the traditional half moon, envelope fold, and the pleated half moon. I realized that this would be a great tool when making two or more different types of dumplings. The different folds would differentiate what filling was inside each one. So we put our skills to work, and began filling the dumpling wrappers. Amazingly our girls made some perfect dumplings too! At the end of the class, we ate a few that Wai and Connie had prepared for us, and brought our dumplings home! It was a great night, we learned a lot all together, and our youngest daughter, Sami, can now add Vegetable Dumplings to her very elite menu (yes, she is an extremely picky eater).

The Dumpling is the most comprehensive and wide-ranging anthology of traditional recipes available for those who love dumplings in every shape, size, and variety. Wai Hon Chu—who has worked in the in the kitchens of March, Clementine, and The Russian Tea Room, and is creator of El Eden Chocolates, named Best Gourmet Chocolate by New York Press—and Connie Lovett take dumpling aficionados on a culinary tour around the globe, offering more than 100 mouthwatering recipes that cover the full range of dumpling possibilities.

(L-R: Wai, Connie, Lauryn, Mara, Sami, J.M. from Harper Collins)
Pofessional Grade Photography by Dave

Book Description

The Dumpling: A Seasonal Guide by Wai Hon Chu and Connie Lovatt is the most comprehensive collection of dumpling recipes ever produced.
Discovering that dumplings—as a category of food—have never been properly defined, Chu and Lovatt developed a definition that takes into account the ingredients, cooking methods, and shapes that most commonly define dumplings, not just in a particular region or culture, but around the world.

"A dumpling is a portion of dough, batter, or starchy plant fare, solid or filled, that is cooked through wet heat, and is not a strand or a ribbon"
This exciting collection shows us that not only are pot stickers, pierogis, and shao mai dumplings but so too are tamales, steamed cakes, and steamed breads. From Chickpea Dumplings in a Tomato Sauce (India) to Leaf-Wrapped Rice Packages Stuffed with Peanuts and Sausage (China), from Chocolate Tamales (Mexico) to a "Napkin" Bread Dumpling with Cherries (Austria), from Cloud-Shaped Bread Buns (Tibet) to Potato Dumplings with Cabbage Layers (Hungary), dumplings, whether steamed or simmered, are as fun to make as they are to eat.

A truly passionate exploration of every dumpling type imaginable, The Dumpling contains dessert varieties, dumplings for gifts or entertaining, dozens of vegetarian and vegan options, fast and easy dumplings, as well as 21 pages of step-by-step dumpling making-illustrations. Arranged by month so as to encourage all of us to cook dumplings seasonally and year round, The Dumpling contains a recipe for every taste bud, table, and occasion.

Chapters 10, 11, and 12

No-Fuss Potato Dumplings • Spiced Carrot Pudding • Collard Greens with Corn Dumplings • Chicken Paprika with Dumplings • Bean Soup with Tiny Dumplings • Chickpea "Fish" in a Spicy Onion Sauce • Bacon and Sage Roly Poly • Daikon Cake • Cheddar Cheese and Potato Pierogi • Lentil and Onion Pierogi • Potato "Tamales" Stuffed with Chicken and Jalapeno • Beef-Stuffed Plantain Balls in a Cassava-Corn Soup

Dumplings and Cocky’s Joy • "Napkin" Bread Dumpling • Turkey Stew with Stuffing Dumplings • Cranberry Pudding • Lord Randall’s Pudding, An Apricot Dessert • Sticky Toffee Pudding • Potato Dumplings with Crouton Centers • Country Cabbage Soup with Large Cornmeal Dumplings • Philadelphia Pepperpot Soup with Dumplings • Large Beef- and Spinach-Filled Dumplings in Beef Broth • Dumplings Stuffed with Pears, Figs, and Chocolate • Pumpkin and Lentil Ravioli with Browned Butter and Rosemary • "Little Ear" Dumplings Stuffed with Mushrooms in a Beet Soup

Root Vegetable Bread Dumplings • Clootie Dumpling • Starchy Coconut Stew with Slippery Rice Balls • Guava Duff • Potato Dumplings with Cabbage Layers • John in the Sack • Classic Christmas Pudding • Chocolate Tamales • Siberian Meat Dumplings • Chestnut Ravioli with Sage Butter Sauce • Chicken-Filled Dumplings in an Escarole Soup • Dumplings Stuffed with "Stewed" Breadcrumbs

My Review:

This cookbook has the recipes organized by the months of the year. A great idea would be to try at least one recipe from the current month. This way, the longer you have the book, the more dumplings you will taste. Lets face it, if you are buying this, you enjoy dumplings, so why not broaden your menu? There are many different types of dumplings, dropped, rolled, stuffed and wrapped. In addition, the folding techniques are the envelope fold, half moon, pleated half moon, candy wrapper and standing half moon. It may sound difficult, but if I can do it, you can too! I enjoyed the pan fried dumplings stuffed with chicken and mushrooms. You can make your own dough, or cheat and use the dumpling wrappers. There is a dough recipe included with this dish.  It was very easy to prepare, the only change I made to the recipe was I used chicken breast instead of thighs. I found that you can substitute items on many of the recipes inside this book to your own taste. It wasn't very time consuming to prepare this dish, great for those nights when you want a home cooked meal, but you don't have a lot of time to invest.
There is also a variety of recipes for desserts, soups, and sauces. Vegetarian and Vegan dishes as well. I haven't tried all the dishes, but I did read over most of this book, and I can't wait to whip up my next batch of dumplings. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a delicious dumpling, or wants to broaden their cooking skills and try some new ideas.
Bon Appetite!  



  1. Dumplings are SOO good. Especially with the right kind of sauce. I want this book so I can make some dumplings! But then again...I could just get them from the store! Yummy, I'm kind of craving some right now.


  2. Yummy! I love me some dumplings :) This book sounds awesome.

  3. Let me just say how wonderful it was to meet the entire Lateiner gang! You all have a talent for dumpling making and it just goes to show that cooking is a fantastic family activity. Hope you enjoy the book and share your dumplings with all your family and friends.

  4. Thanks for featuring this book. Love dumplings!

  5. This review makes me hungry just reading it! I had no idea that tamales would count as dumplings. :D I'd sure love to try out many of these tasty-sounding recipes!

  6. I remember my grandma making dumplings and my mom. I like this cookbook and I'm going to start making dumplings too.

    dorcontest at gmail dot com

  7. I would so love to get my hands on this book. Lucky you.

  8. Sounds delicious. You made it sound like even I could make dumplings

  9. YUM. That sounds like fun, I think I need to start reading cooking books :D


  10. I love dumplings and food cookbooks; they're both so much fun! I wish my local WFM would do a show like this too, it'd definitely inspire me to make them. :)

  11. Thanks for featuring this book - it sounds really interesting. I love dimsum and gyoza and would love to try to make them and many of the other dumplings that you'd listed.

  12. This doesn't sound like the healthiest cookbook, but some it sounds delicious. Thanks for the review.

  13. I just love dumplings and by your review I'm thinking you could make rolls too! I will absolutely check out this book, it has made me hungry. Thanks for your review.