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. I will also be sharing her recipe for Spinach and Egg Dumplings following the review.
Disclosure: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions 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.
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.
The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook
Helen begins with tips on creating dumplings from forming the dough to making the fillings. She discusses three cooking styles: boiled, steamed, and panfried along with the formation of the yuan bao and crescent. A galaxy of flavors chart is included as a building block for creating your own flavors.
Chapters are divided based on type of dumpling: Chinese Dumplings 101, Classic Dumplings, Green Dumplings, Faraway Flavors, Dessert Dumplings, and Sauces and Sides.
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.
Spinach and Egg Dumplings
These 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 water spinach if available (and make sure it is cooked thoroughly). Water spinach is a leafy green vegetable found in Southeast Asian cuisine. It is rich in protein, iron, calcium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber. I was unable to locate it, but you may be able to find water spinach in some markets featuring Southeast Asian ingredients.
If using frozen spinach, allow it to thaw thoroughly and dry well before mixing with the eggs.
Looking for more dumpling ideas?
- Xiao Long Bao (Chinese Soup Dumplings)
- Aushak (Afghan Leek and Scallion Dumplings)
- Luqamaat (Fried Dumplings with Date Syrup)
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 Helen’s mother’s favorites. Ground pork is combined with simple seasonings and chopped garlic chives. They are folded, then boiled until the pork is cooked through. 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 Helen’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 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. The shredded potatoes are lightly coated in a seasoned wine vinaigrette. They are cooked until just tender, but still have a bit of crispness.
The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook 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 a market nearby with East Asian ingredients will be helpful in locating items 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.
Spinach and Egg Dumplings Recipe
Adapted from The Dumpling Galaxy Cookbook
Spinach and Egg Dumplings
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
- 8 large eggs
- 2 1/2 tablespoons skim milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
To make the dough:
- Add the flour to a wide mixing bowl and stir in the salt.
- Stir in the water and egg white with your fingers. The flour will look shaggy, like biscuit dough; as the dough comes together, run an open palm around the edge of the bowl and fold the flour in the center, spinning the bowl with your other hand as you go, until it all forms a rough clump. It's fine if there are still pockets of dry flour.
- Coat your work surface with a fine dusting of flour and turn the dough out of the bowl. Dust your hands with flour and shape the dough into a fat log about the width of your hand. Knead the dough by pushing your hands and wrists into the log and rolling it forward. Then roll it back and push again. Repeat a few times until the log moves easily, adding more flour if it sticks, then spin the log 90 degrees, shape it into a horizontal log again, and knead a few more times, adding more flour if necessary. Use no more flour than you need to keep the dough from drying out.
- As you knead, the dough will get firmer and tougher with a texture reminiscent of a gummy bear. It's ready when it's smooth to the touch, like the surface of a pearl, not tacky, with no cracks or pockets of dry flour. There may be some lumps.
- Put the dough back in your work bowl and cover it with a sheet of plastic wrap. Let it sleep for 15 to 30 minutes. While it relaxes, you can prepare your filling.
To make the filling:
- Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the spinach and cook for 30 seconds, until it turns a vivid green, then, using a slotted spoon, transfer it to a bowl of ice water.
- Chill thoroughly and drain. Wrap the spinach in a clean cheesecloth or tea towel to wring out excess moisture, then roughly chop it and set it aside.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and set aside.
- In a medium nonstick skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium-low heat until a few drops of water added to the pan sizzle and evaporate. Pour in the egg mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes, just until the eggs form fluffy curds but have not fully set; they should still be slightly runny. Remove from the heat and let cool in a medium bowl.
- Use your hands to gently fold the eggs, sesame oil, oyster sauce, remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, and pepper together until fully combined. Gently fold in the spinach and mix until fully incorporated.
- Dust your work surface with a little more flour, then knead the dough as before. Work out all those lumps; after kneading about ten times you should have a satin-smooth dough that forms a clean ball you can easily push into, like the gel of a shoe insert.
- Form your dough into a log, dust a dough scraper with a little flour, and cut the dough into four sections.
- Roll each section into a log and chop it into six pieces for a total of twenty-four balls of dough, each about an inch in diameter. Toss the balls with a light coating of flour and cover with a lightly moistened towel.
- Gently smash the balls of dough into flat disks, then lightly roll an Asian-style rolling pin across them to flatten them out a bit more.
- Hold one disk by its edge and firmly but gently roll your pin from the disk's edge to its center. Roll the same edge a few more times, using more pressure at the edge than at the center. Use your other hand to turn the dough disk and reveal a new edge of the disk; roll again. Continue until all edges are rolled out and the wrapper is about 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
- Hold your rolled-out wrapper up to a light. If you can see through it faitly, your wrapper is ready to go. Otherwise, keep rolling. Roll the edges to half the thickness of the center of the wrappers.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Holding a wrapper in your palm, use a fork to add about 1 tablespoon of the filling to the center of the wrapper, then lightly pat down the filling with the fork to get rid of any air bubbles.
- Fold the dumpling into the round yuan bao shape- Once the filling is in place, cradle the wrapper in one hand, fold the edge closest to you over the filling, and pinch the dumpling shut.
- Now seal it for good: cradle the dumpling in your palms, clasing the sealed edge between your thumbs and index fingers, and squeeze it shut while pushing inward, making sure to squeeze out any air bubbles. The dumpling's belly should form a teardrop shape between your thumbs, which will create the round yuan bao shape.
- Inspect the dumplings for any fissures that could rupture during cooking and pinch them shut, leaving as little open space as possible between the filling and the sealed edge of the wrapper. Repeat with the rest of the wrappers.
- Working in batches, add the dumplings to the pot, 6 at a time. Boil for 2 minutes on high, then reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 1 minute, then reduce the heat again to medium and cook for 2 more minutes. The dumplings are ready a minute or so after they rise to the surface; their skins will turn puffy.
- Using a slotted spoon, gently transfer the dumplings to a plate and serve immediately. Bring the water back to a boil over high heat and repeat with the remaining dumplings.