The pictures of dumplings in class on Tuesday left me craving a dish I had never even had before. I was planning on going to the store after lecture anyways so I decided that I would have the perfect opportunity to try my hand at dumpling making. On the bus ride up to Kroger I looked up a recipe for the dumplings, scraping my previous shopping list.
You can find the recipe I used here.
The dumpling filling has to sit and marinate for a couple of hours before you make the actual dumplings. I figured that the appropriate time to make this filling was right before my classes on Wednesday. So I got up early and mixed together all of the ingredients. The recipe called for steamed cabbage, but being a college student I did not have any way to steam the cabbage in conventional ways I figured out a way to steam it in the microwave. I then mixed together all of the ingredients and left my apartment smelling of garlic, fresh ginger and sesame seed oil.
When I arrived back to my apartment late from my classes, I immediately set to work on making the dough. This time I even let the dough rest for the appropriate half hour. It was much easier to work with once I let it sit compared to when I made noodles the week before. I cooked them in batches of 8, for exactly 3 minutes.
The sauce was not what the original recipe called for. This is a classic case of local adaptation. I did not have many of the ingredients it called for so I went with what is commonly found in my fridge, soy sauce and sweet Thai chili sauce.
The dumplings were delicious. The dough was chewy, very much like perfect fresh pasta. It was al dente. The filling was garlicky, and oniony. The flavor of the ginger was subtle but still present. One of my favorite spices of all time is ginger, so if a dish has ginger you can basically guarantee that I will like it. Dipping the dumplings in the sauce enhanced the flavor by adding a sweet and salty element combined with a little bit of heat. They hit all of the five major tastes besides bitter. The pork was light, and absorbed the flavor of the sesame oil, which added a bit of toasted, nutty flavor.
The history of the dumpling is a complicated one. The question is whether or not dumplings are originally Asian. We know that there is written evidence of pasta in China by the 300 AD, in the “Ode to Bing” but there is no definitive evidence of pasta in Italy until the 13th century (Lecture 6 slide 17). Also from our in class lecture we learned that there is linguistic evidence that supports the claim that the Turks were the first to name the dumpling. The Chinese word mantou is probably a Turkic loan word coming from the Turkish word manti (Lecture 6 slide 32). Finally through the reading of “On the Noodle Road,” by Lin-Liu, we learn that along the silk roads, pasta dishes are very similar. It is not surprising to learn that Kyrgyz cuisine and Italian cuisine resemble one another (Lin-Liu 127). Both groups consume a large amount of dairy and pasta. This suggests that the spread of pasta, and dumplings was along the silk roads, probably transported through the Mongol conquest. To answer my original question as to the origins of dumplings I would say that yes dumplings are of Asian origin.