…and we’re not just talking about the common Chinese version!
Some say they originated in China more than 1800 years ago, there’s evidence of them in fifth century Roman cookery texts, and others claim they were created in medieval England to fill hungry bellies on the cheap. Whatever the case, there’s no denying they’re just about the most perfect thing to happen to cuisine… ever!
You see, not only are they delicious, they also don’t discriminate. They’re a universal comfort food that comes in all shapes, sizes and flavours, and arose independently across all corners of the globe. Filled or doughy? Savoury or sweet? We don’t care – let’s eat!
1. Chinese jiaozi
This stuffed Chinese dumpling is said to have been invented during the Han Dynasty by Zhang Zhongjian. We always liked him.
2. Chinese har gow
The popular prawn dumplings first appeared at the beginning of the last century in Guangzhou. A good har gow should have at least seven pleats in its thin, translucent wrapper. At our table, they never last long enough to count.
3. Chinese siu mai
This is the dumpling most likely to appear on party platters. The most popular incarnation of these Cantonese offerings is filled with pork and shrimp, and cloaked in a thin yellow skin.
4. Chinese xiaolongbao
The object of many a dumpling obsession, the correct consumption of xiaolongbao involves a complex ritual. But, if you’re impatient like us, the “fire in the hole” method of throwing it straight into your gob works just as well.
5. Japanese gyoza
In gyoza, the usual pork mince share centre-stage with a mixture of cabbage, green onions and chives. Wrapped in a paper-thin dough, it’s steamed and fried for a soft, crunchy effect.
6. Korean mandu
Mandu is generally filled with meat, tofu, green onions, garlic and ginger, and served grilled, boiled or fried with kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage).
7. Nepalese momo
While momo may look similar to its Chinese cousin, the Nepalese dumpling is usually packed with chicken or goat and spices, and served with an addictive tomato-based chutney.
8. Vietnamese bánh bột lọc
Yep, again with the prawns and pork – but this Vietnamese dumpling is wrapped in a diaphanous steamed tapioca pastry that is a chewy, sticky, textural delight.
9. Taiwanese bawan
This popular Taiwanese street food is sticky, filled with savoury stuffing (one that varies across the island) and served with sweet sauce.
10. Turkish manti
Filled with a mixture of minced lamb, onion and spices, this Turkish delight is doused with ground sumac and mint and served with a garlicky yoghurt.
11. Italian ravioli
Let’s not forget Italy’s humble ravioli. This dumpling boasts a filling of just about anything edible, sealed between two layers of pasta dough. We love the ricotta version – best eaten in Italy with a hot date and a nice glass of Chianti.
12. Polish pierogi
This looks like the love child of a ravioli and a potsticker. The luscious bundle of dumpling love is served with crème fraiche and comes packed with an assortment of savoury and sweet fillings, including berries.
13. Eastern European kreplach
This Jewish dumpling is filled with ground meat and mashed potatoes. They’re usually found bobbing about with a few pals in a bowl of steaming chicken soup.
14. Czech ovocné knedlíky
Imagine plums, peaches or strawberries wrapped in thick ricotta-stuffed dough, boiled and covered in wads of butter and sugar. Enough said.
15. Swedish kroppkaka
A meat-filled potato dumpling served with butter, cream and lingonberry jam, There are plenty of regional variations, but one thing they all have in common is that they’re irresistible.
16. South African souskluitjie
A traditional South African dessert, souskluitjie is a pillowy cinnamon dumpling served warm in a sweet cinnamon sauce.
17. Ghanaian fufu
The national dish of Ghana is a starchy dumpling served with stew or soup. Made from boiled and pounded plantains, yams or cassava tubers – just dig in with your fingers.
Images via boyeatsworld.com.au, Anneli Stalberg, blog.beemart.vn, boyeatsworld.com.au, ediblyasian.info, flickr.com, Marc Woons, Marieta van Bladeren, Petr Makovicka and tarasmulticulturaltable.com.
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