What are dumplings? You may have heard of it or have even tried it before, most likely in a Chinese Restaurant. However, you will now discover that people around the world are enjoying the dish. Some versions of dough wrapped around a delicious filling can be found almost anywhere, from Africa to the Middle East. They come in a lot of shapes, sizes, and flavors from all corners of the globe. Eaten as an appetizer or dessert, a side or main meal, they are perfect at any time of day and for all occasions as well. Here, we find out more about this dish.
A common legend goes that the Chinese were the first to make dumplings. Specifically, it was in the era of the Three Kingdoms, around 225 AD. One authority, on the other hand, claims that the word dumpling goes back to 1600 in the United Kingdom in the Norfolk area. Ancient Rome also had their own dumpling-like dish, according to the oldest of cook books by Apicius.
In Europe, they are usually a ball made of flour, potato, meat or offal, that is boiled in soup. English dumplings, made of flour and herbs, are baked on top of a stew. Germany, Romania, Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia boast a large variety of the dish too, both sweet and savory. Italian dumplings are made with either potato or flour and egg and are sometimes called Gnocchi.
The baked dumpling is popular in American cuisine. They usually wrap a fruit like a whole tart apple in pastry and then bake it. As an alternative to simply baking them, they are also sometimes wrapped in a sweet sauce in the baking dish and then basted. Popular flavors for apple dumplings include brown sugar, caramel, or cinnamon sauces.
In Asian cultures, dumplings are predominantly part of Chinese cooking. They are little pockets of rice-flour or wheat-flour pastry. Inside these pockets are fillings of prawn, pork, spinach, water chestnut, crabmeat, and other delicacies. They are prepared by steaming, boiling, and even frying. The Japanese gyoza is actually known as their interpretation of dumplings.
Fufu is probably the closest African version of a dumpling. Africans prepare this dish by pounding boiled cassava or yam in a wooden mortar with a wooden pestle. There are several other versions of fufu in Africa and the Caribbean though which fit better into the definition of dumplings. These are mostly common outside Africa where they originate.