Well, I decided to come back for the second month of the cookbook challenge (http://growandresist.com/2012/12/21/cook-the-books-a-cookbook-challenge/) and this month’s book was Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen. I was a little intimidated, honestly, because I’ve never really worked with wonton wrappers, egg roll wrappers and certainly not ever dumpling wappers…I even have a hard time folding a burrito! And not only were these going to be the backbone of the recipe, but they were going to be homemade. Like from scratch! I mean, I do prefer cooking from scratch when there is time, but for dumplings?? I wasn’t sure I could do it. Fortunately for me, Ms. Nguyen’s book is extremely detailed AND extremely easy. She outlines the key to making and filling dumplings in a way that is practically fool-proof. After the first attempt came together so smoothly, I was intrigued and delighted. Even my kids were pretty impressed with my results – one asked where we ordered take-out! Not only that, but Asian Dumplings was full of narratives and pictures – the kind of cookbook I sit down to read from cover to cover. And I did just that before selecting my first recipe to try.


I made a double-batch of the Steamed Vegetable Dumplings. My only disappointment was that I could not find brown pressed tofu, so I used an extra firm tofu that I pressed slightly, froze for a bit, thawed and pressed again. I’m not sure if the texture was comparable, but I liked the overall taste and the tofu meshed well with the other ingredients, all of which I  was able to find in my local grocery store. Which is to say that at least for this particular recipe you would easily be able to assemble all the ingredients without resorting to ordering online or anything – except for the brown tofu as noted. Ms. Nguyen has some amazingly exotic-sounding recipes in this book, though I confess I’m not much of a carnivore and not at all adventurous when it comes to meat and seafood. But I can see myself easily following her savory recipes for my family, or adapting many of her delectable looking recipes for my leaning-toward-vegetarian tastes.


The above pictures show my dumplings just prior to cooking. Ms. Nguyen includes a website — www.Asiandumplingtips.com — as well as a wonderful resource page, for newbies starting out. I am a huge fan of that site now! And if any of you are lucky enough to live out near San Francisco you can even take some classes!

So I ended up pan-frying the bottoms slightly and was pleased with the results, which I served with rice and steamed vegetables for a complete meal.

Unfortunately for me, once again this was a borrowed library book, so by the time I requested the book and picked it up and then had to return it because it was on hold and not renewable (sad for me!), I did not have enough time to play in the kitchen with any of the other recipes. At least not yet. But once again I’ve found another book to add to my repertoire — Asian Dumplings is now on my “cookbooks I need” list, lol…Meanwhile I’m hoping to get back on the library’s reserve wait list and try something from the “Sweet Treasures” chapter!

If you are a fan of samosas, spring rolls or Asian dumplings of any kind, you really need to get this book and go play in the kitchen!