fine food - Dumplings
Written by Craig Butcher
Whether sweet or savoury, stuffed or whole, dumplings are among the worlds most versatile dishes. From the empanadas of South America to the gyoza of Japan via Italian gnocchi, we highlight three of the most enticing versions.
These famed dumplings are said to have originated in China early in the third century. Formed from squares made of egg, flour, salt, and water to enclose a filling, they are steamed, or occasionally deep-fried, before being served in a broth with noodles and/or green vegetables. Typical fillings include a base of garlic and finely chopped spring onions along with shrimp, beef, or chicken. Popular in the southern regions of China, including Canton and Hong Kong, they can now be found in most Chinese restaurants worldwide.
Souskluitjies, South Africa
Deliciously different, South African souskluitjies or, in English, sauce dumplings, are a sweet dessert made from a base of eggs, flour, and water that resemble whole doughnuts. The base may also include dried fruit, though typically not. They are steamed and most often topped with a cinnamon sugar syrup or bathed in vanilla custard for a warming, comforting dessert. An Afrikaans speciality, you may struggle to find these on menus, but seek an invitation from hospitable hosts and you will be rewarded.
Similar to Italian ravioli, pierogi dumplings are common to much of Central and Eastern Europe. The Polish national dish is typically served in a semicircular shape with pinched sides. Potato is added to the dough for a slightly denser texture, and the pierogi are most frequently filled with potatoes, fried onions, and a little mince, before being boiled and/or fried. Alternative fillings range from cheese, mushrooms, sauerkraut, and spinach, to berry compotes for a sweet dessert.
Whole or stuffed?
Italian gnocchi (meaning lumps) are unstuffed dumplings using the basic pasta ingredients of flour and egg with the addition of potato. They are rolled into balls, boiled, and then served with a sauce or au gratin. For a twist on traditional ravioli, gnocchi ravioli is simply flattened gnocchi, filled with combinations such as ricotta cheese and spinach, or tomato and basil.