This is a Book About Dumplings, written by Brendan Pang, features an amazing variety of traditional and modern dumplings along with plenty of accompaniments and sauces for every skill level. A few highlights include Crystal Shrimp Har Gow, Northern-Style Lamb Dumplings, Lobster XO Dumplings, Grandmère’s Fried Shrimp Wontons, Miso Roasted Eggplant Potstickers, BBQ Pork Steamed Buns, and Grilled Five-Spice Steak Jianbing. I will also be sharing his recipe for Red Curry Chicken Wonton Soup following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Page Street Publishing in exchange for my honest review. All opinions and statements are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Brendan Pang is the founder of Bumplings Perth, a mobile dumpling kitchen, and travels internationally teaching cooking and dumpling workshops. His love of dumplings started in his Grandmère’s kitchen and has been inspired by his family’s Mauritian-Chinese background. He was a contestant on Masterchef Australia in 2018 & 2020 and has been featured by ABC Perth, Chinatown London, PopSugar, and more. This is his first cookbook.
This is a Book About Dumplings
Brendan starts with a short introduction and how watching his Grandmère make wontons with a simple pork filling sparked his love of dumplings. His passion continued to grow and he channeled it into creating Bumplings, a dumpling kitchen which began as a pop-up concept in an airstream. He has developed this book with the home cook in mind to share that passion with others.
The chapters are divided according to type of dumpling: Steamed Dumplings; Boiled Dumplings; Fried Dumplings; Rainbow Dumplings; Buns, Rice and Noodles; Appetizers and Snacks; Dumpling Sauces; Dumpling Wrappers; and Dumpling Folds and Shapes.
The photography is provided by Thomas Davidson. Every single recipe is accompanied by a full-page photo of the finished dish. There are also step-by-step photos to help assist in the different folding styles. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Titles are in English. Each dish includes a headnote with background information, notes, serving size, and personal stories. Recipes range from basic folds and fillings to more challenging shapes/techniques and creative colors.
Red Curry Chicken Wonton Soup
Dumplings are my absolute favorite food in the world and I was so excited to cook my way through this incredible book. Every recipe I tried has been wonderful, but this Red Curry Chicken Wonton Soup was absolutely spectacular. Brendan developed this soup as a way to use up leftover pantry ingredients.
The homemade wontons take some effort to make (but aren’t overly difficult and can be prepared ahead of time and frozen). They are formed with a ground chicken filling flavored with grated carrots, green onions, ginger, soy sauce, and sesame oil, then folded into a classic wonton shape.
The soup is much quicker and comes together easily for a flavor-packed lunch or weeknight dinner (if the wontons have been previously assembled). Onion, ginger, and garlic are sautéed until softened and fragrant, then simmered with red curry paste, chicken stock, and coconut milk for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. The wontons are added and gently boiled until cooked through and finally followed by Bok Choy for the last couple of minutes before serving immediately with fresh cilantro and sliced long red chilies.
The Classic Wonton Fold was the first shape Brendan learned from his Grandmère. It holds well for boiling and deep-frying. Place a teaspoon of the chicken filling in the center of the wonton wrapper. Brush half of the edges of the wrapper lightly with water and fold over to make a rectangle shape. Press to seal the edges and enclose the filling, pushing first from around the filling to the outer edges to keep air bubbles from developing. Pull two corners towards the center, brush one lightly with water, and press together to seal. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
I also made Brendan’s Pork and Peanut Dumplings, Juicy Chicken Sheng Jian Bao, Chicken and Cilantro Dumplings, and Smacked Cucumber Salad.
The Pork and Peanut Dumplings come from the Steamed chapter. A savory pork and peanut filling with shiitake mushrooms and ginger is enclosed within a crystal dumpling wrapper and steamed until transparent. I still occasionally have issues managing a crystal dumpling wrapper and couldn’t transform the dumplings into their intended form, but the results were still incredibly delicious. Brendan recommends pairing them with the Smacked Cucumber Salad (and I do too!).
The Juicy Chicken Sheng Jian Bao is the first recipe in the Fried Dumplings chapter. Cubed chicken is processed with Napa cabbage, green onion, and seasonings, then wrapped in a bao bun dough. They are pan-fried and steamed to form a light and fluffy dumpling with a crisp bottom.
The Rainbow Dumplings chapter is such a fun section with plenty of vibrant dumplings to choose from. I went with the Green Chicken and Cilantro Dumplings, but you will also find red, pink, orange, yellow, blue, purple, and black options. The green wrappers are naturally dyed with the help of spinach, then used to wrap the chicken and cilantro filling in a half moon shape. They are pan-fried and served with a fragrant cilantro oil.
After learning about all the varieties of dumplings, Brendan also includes a chapter on some appetizers and snacks to serve as accompaniments. This Smacked Cucumber Salad was perfect for pairing with the Pork and Peanut Dumplings. After peeling stripes down the cucumbers and removing the seeds, they are smacked with a cleaver or rolling pin and chopped coarsely. The pieces are tossed with a garlic black vinegar dressing and drizzled with a homemade Roasted Sichuan Chile Oil.
This book is a great pick for those who love dumplings. There are plenty of options whether you are new to making dumplings or are more advanced and looking for fresh ideas. Many of the ingredients can be found in larger American supermarkets. A few that may require further searching include dried shiitake mushrooms, Shaoxing rice wine, Sichuan peppercorns, Napa cabbage, kimchi, gochujang, Kang kung, red curry paste, white rice flour, taro root, wheat starch, fresh turmeric, blue spirulina, mud crab meat, miso paste, Chinese chives, activated charcoal powder, black vinegar, dried lotus leaves, lap cheong, and choy sum.
Red Curry Chicken Wonton Soup Recipe
Excerpt from This is a Book About Dumplings
Red Curry Chicken Wonton Soup
- 12 1/2 ounces (350 grams) fatty ground chicken
- 1 small carrot grated
- 2 green onions finely chopped
- 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 35 Wonton Wrappers homemade or store-bought
Red Curry Soup
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) vegetable oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 2 tbsp (15 g) finely grated fresh ginger
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup (60 g) red curry paste
- 4 cups (946 ml) chicken stock
- 1 can (13.5 oz, 400-ml) can coconut milk
- 2 tbsp (26 g) superfine sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 bunch bok choy trimmed
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Sliced long red chiles for garnish
Make the filling:
- In a medium bowl, combine all the filling ingredients and mix vigorously in one direction until the mixture binds. Cover and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
- Place 1 wonton wrapper on a clean surface. Place 1 heaping teaspoon of the mixture in the center and shape using the classic wonton fold. Cover loosely with a clean, damp tea towel and repeat the process to form the remaining dumplings. Set aside until needed.
Make the red curry soup:
- In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, or until fragrant and soft. Add the red curry paste and cook for an additional minute. Whisk in the chicken stock, coconut milk, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and season as desired.
- To finish, add the wontons to the soup and cook for about 6 minutes. Add the bok choy and cook for an additional 2 minutes. To serve, divide the wontons and bok choy among six serving bowls. Ladle in some soup and top with cilantro and sliced chiles.