November 1, 1999

3 Min Read
Food Product Design: World Fare, Dumpling Diversity: In the United States, certain dumplings have become mainstream...


November 1999

Dumpling Diversity

By: Susheela Uhl
Contributing Editor

    In the United States, certain dumplings have become mainstream, such as Chinese dumplings, Japanese shumai and Polish pierogis. Some, however, are still quite unknown, such as mantos or ashaks from Aghanistan, momos from Tibet, or mandus from Korea.

  Chinese dumplings are steamed or fried, with fillings of beef, chicken or pork, tofu, or vegetables wrapped in a flour dough. The vegetables used include Chinese cabbage, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts and dried Chinese black mushrooms. They are flavored with sesame oil and white pepper, then placed in a wrapper that is folded and steamed. The dumplings are served with a dipping sauce containing soy sauce, ginger, garlic, chives or green onions, chile oil, sugar and vinegar. Shumai, from Japan, are steamed, sumptious dumplings, filled with meat or vegetables, that are dipped into a miso-type sauce.

  Pierogis are cheese, butter, potato, spinach or onion-filled dumplings, made from wheat dough. Salt and black pepper are used to season the fillings, which can also include sauerkraut or cottage cheese. Pierogis are half-moon shaped, and are sometimes topped with sour cream or melted butter. They were brought to central Canada by the Ukranian immigrants in the late 1800s, and were called perohy or varynyky.

  The Thais have a sweet version of a dumpling, called kanom tom daeng. Glutinous rice flour is made into tiny balls, then is simmered and served with a caramelized sauce of palm sugar and coconut. In Korea, dumplings called mandu are boiled or lightly fried, and served in a chicken broth or eaten with a vinegar-based spicy condiment called kochujang. The filling of ground pork and beef is flavored with crushed garlic cloves, sesame seeds, soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, black pepper, spring onions, kimchi and bean sprouts.

  Lamb dumplings are popular in Lebanon, and in many other parts of the Middle East. These are filled with ground lamb, onion and pine nuts, and are seasoned with cayenne, cinnamon and nutmeg. They're cooked in a yogurt sauce seasoned with ghee, garlic and coriander leaves. Lamb kibbeh, or seasoned lamb balls, are also added to the yogurt sauce.

  Momos dumplings of Tibet are fried or steamed, and stuffed with chicken or vegetables. The Afghan ashak is like a lacy ravioli, stuffed with scallions and served with grilled onions and yogurt sauce. The manto, also from Afghanistan, is stuffed with ground beef and is also served with yogurt sauce. From Austria comes a sweet-yeast-based dumpling called germknödel, filled with plum jam and served with powdered sugar, ground poppy seeds and melted butter. In north India, dumplings made of lentil, ginger, caraway, chiles and almonds are called dahi wada. They are smothered with yogurt and tamarind sauce, and garnished with chopped cilantro.

  In all their numerous forms and manifestations, dumplings are a versatile and tasty dish, successfully incorporating the diverse flavors and ingredients of almost any cuisine.

Susheela Uhl is president of Horizons, a Mamaroneck, NY-based food-consulting firm. She develops products (ethnic and fusion), provides information on spices and other flavorings, and gives presentations exploring culinary trends and the factors contributing to their emergence.

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