Dumplings all day 'Wong'
Chef, restaurateur, TV producer and educator Lee Anne Wong now adds author to her list of accomplishments, with the publication of her new cookbook, "Dumplings All Day Wong" (Page Street Publishing, $22.99).
In addition to such classic recipes as mixed seafood dumplings and pork and chive dumplings, she put her creative skills to work devising such combinations as sweet corn tamale dumplings and lamb satay shumai. True to her belief that dumplings can be enjoyed not only "all day" but all year round, she also offers some seasonal entries such as seasoned potato and ground turkey dumplings with cranberry-soy dipping sauce.
There's even a section for xiao long bao, or soup dumplings, with options ranging from chicken truffle soup to tom yum soup-filled marvels.
The "Top Chef" and "Iron Chef" competitor, host of the Cooking Channel's "Food Crawl" and chef/partner of Koko Head Cafe, presented a cooking demonstration at Cookspace Hawaii on Thursday, Oct. 16, during which she shared two recipes from her book, for pork and edamame dumplings, including the gluten-free option of using wheat starch (the gluten proteins removed) in place of regular wheat flour. She also showed several methods of folding dumplings, offering the reassuring fact that no matter how they're folded, they'll still be delicious ... as long as they're sealed so juices don't escape.
She also showed how quickly home cooks can make their own dough, including adding spinach juice, beet juice and other vegetable juices to add color to the wheat starch dough, which ends up with a glassy, translucent sheen when cooked.
After her demonstration, guests who attended the workshop were able to get hands-on with homemade dough, commercial won ton pi and gyoza wrappers to mix and match with fillings and compare the texture and flavor of the finished dumplings.
Multiple hands at work meant there were many dumplings to be enjoyed before the session ended. The hot dumplings were perfect for a rainy weekend. We stayed warm and toasty indoors, while with Hurricane Ana dumped water outside.
In comparing the homemade vs. commercial dough, though, participants felt the commercial wrappers were easier to use, making the resulting dumplings much more attractive. We could not roll the handmade dough out thin enough, and it was difficult to get the perfect cookie-cutter shapes that made folding much easier and uniform with the commercial dough.
If trying the handmade dough at home, I would recommend rolling it all out like cookie or pie dough, then using a square or round cookie cutter to get even shapes.
Nadine Kam is style editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.