The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook features over 60 recipes from Helen You’s restaurant, The Dumpling Galaxy, in Flushing, Queens. Highlights include the traditional Pork Soup Dumplings, Pork and Cabbage Dumplings, and Pork and Mushroom Shumai along with the more unique Pumpkin and Black Sesame Tang Yuan, Salmon and Dill Dumplings, and Beef and Tomato Dumplings.
Helen You grew up in Tianjin during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and moved to New York City for college in 1989. Her first memories involved watching her mother and grandmother make dumplings. She opened her first stall in 2007 in Flushing, Queens with three types of dumplings on the menu before opening Dumpling Galaxy, a full service restaurant in 2014. Her dumplings have been featured in New York magazine, Serious Eats, Eater, and the New York Times. She wrote the book with Max Falkowitz, the executive digital editor of Saveur.
Chapters are divided based on type of dumpling: Chinese Dumplings 101, Classic Dumplings, Green Dumplings, Faraway Flavors, Dessert Dumplings, and Sauces and Sides.
You begins with tips on creating dumplings from forming the dough to making the fillings. She discusses three cooking styles: boiled, steamed, and panfried. Ever since I have learned how to make my own wrappers, I have been hooked. It does take a little more time than store-bought, but they are so easy to work with and aren’t as fragile. She goes over the formation of the yuan bao and crescent step-by-step with a few photos. A galaxy of flavors chart is included as a building block for creating your own flavors.
While there is a section with classic and traditional flavors, I particularly enjoyed the Faraway Flavors chapter that features more interesting combinations that I had not come across before. The Pork and Pu’er Tea Dumplings and Shrimp and Cucumber Dumplings are next on my list.
Every recipe includes a headnote with background information, tips, and stories. Many also include variations. Measurements are listed in US Customary.
The photography is provided by Ed Anderson. Many of the recipes include a beautifully-styled photo, generally of the finished dish and occasionally of prep work or ingredients. There are also a few of the restaurant and surrounding area.
This book is a great pick for dumpling lovers, especially those who want to try out new flavors. It is probably best for those with some experience. Most of the recipes do take a little prep work, but they can be frozen for easy snacks later. Along with the variety of sweet and savory dumplings, the last chapter also includes a handful of accompaniments like Fried Chicken Wings, sauces, and salads. Having an Asian food market nearby will be helpful in locating some ingredients like napa cabbage, bamboo shoots, Sichuan peppercorns, garlic chives, pickled mustard greens, oyster sauce, Asian pear, dried red Tianjin beans, dry pu’er tea leaves, hoisin sauce, and clear vermicelli noodles.
The Spinach and Egg Dumplings may just be in the top ten dumplings I have ever tried. Soft scrambled eggs are combined with spinach, sesame oil, and oyster sauce, then folded in a homemade wrapper before boiling until tender.
The trick is to cook the eggs until just fluffy. There should still be some moisture on the surface. If they are cooked all the way through, then they will end up overcooking after boiling.
Use Chinese water spinach if available. Water spinach (kangkong, Chinese spinach, phak bung, rau muong, water convolvulus, water morning glory, swamp cabbage) is a leafy green vegetable common in Southeast Asia. It is highly nutritious and is rich in protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. It grows easily and quickly in waterways with minimal care. In hot and wet climates, it has the ability to grow 4 inches in a day. A single plant can also spread up to 70 feet. Due to the ability to become invasive and clog waterways, it has been labeled as a noxious weed by the USDA and can be difficult to locate in some areas. I used regular spinach, but you may be able to locate it in some markets featuring Southeast Asian ingredients.
I also made the Pork and Chive Dumplings, Curry Beef Dumplings, Eight Treasures Dumplings, and Shredded Potato Salad.
The Pork with Garlic Chive was one of You’s mother’s favorites and is one of the most classic dumpling flavors. Ground pork is combined with simple seasonings and chopped garlic chives. They are folded, then boiled until the pork is cooked through. I usually have my own garlic chives on hand in the garden, but since it is winter I was able to find them at the local Asian food market. A variation including dill was also provided.
The Curry Beef Dumplings are a variation of the Spicy Beef Dumplings. Instead of chile oil, curry powder is added to the ground beef filling. These dumplings are pan-fried using You’s special technique of adding a flour and vinegar based slurry to the pan. This creates a crisp bottom layer.
The Eight Treasures Dumplings were incredibly unique and delicious. These sweet dumplings are filled with a combination of eight ingredients (eight is a lucky number)- walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, and raisins along with sugar and diced Asian pear.
The Shredded Potato Salad was actually Claire’s favorite. Instead of a heavy mayonnaise-drenched salad, the shredded potatoes are lightly coated in a seasoned wine vinaigrette. They are cooked until just tender, but still have a bit of crispness.
Spinach and Egg Dumplings
Adapted from The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook
Boiled Dumpling Dough:
2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 egg white
Spinach and Egg Filling:
3 ounces spinach or Chinese water spinach, about 2 cups packed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
8 large eggs
2 1/2 tablespoons skim milk
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To make the dough: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Mix in the water and egg white to create a dough.
On a lightly floured surface, knead and roll the dough until soft, elastic, and the flour has been absorbed. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic, and allow to rest for 15-30 minutes.
To make the filling: Place a medium pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Place a bowl of ice water near the pot. Add the spinach to the boiling water and cook just until vivid green, about 30 seconds. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the spinach to the ice water. Once chilled, drain, and squeeze using a cheesecloth or towel to remove any excess moisture. Roughly chop.
Place a large, nonstick skillet over medium low heat and drizzle with vegetable oil.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs with the milk and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add to the heated skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until just fluffy but not completely set, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a medium bowl. Gently fold in the sesame oil, oyster sauce, remaining salt, and chopped spinach.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough briefly and divide the rested dough into 24 equal pieces. Roll a piece into a thin circle 3-4 inches wide. Repeat with remaining wrappers and place until a lightly moistened towel to keep them from drying out.
Place about a tablespoon of the prepared filling in the center of a wrapper. Fold the dumpling into the round yuan bao shape, squeezing out any air bubbles as you seal the dough. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
Transfer 6 dumplings to the boiling water, stirring briefly to keep them from sticking to the bottom. Boil over high heat for 2 minutes, then reduce heat to medium high and cook for an additional minute. Reduce heat to medium and cook for two more minutes, until risen to the top and puffy, before removing with a slotted spoon. Bring the water back to a boil over high heat and repeat with remaining dumplings. Serve immediately.