Noodlies, Sydney food blog’s dumpling feature in Good Weekend, in the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age (Saturday, 13 September 2014)
The best food in Asia – Dumplings
Dumplings are converting fans across the West. But the best dumpling adventurecan only be experienced on the noisy and colourful streets of Asia.
Fast to make and quick to cook, these delicate, bite-sized Asian delicacies are popular day or night, all year round. In China, these pillows containing meat, seafood or vegetables are served up in street stalls, bustling dim sum (yum cha) halls to elegant fine dining establishments.
Part of daily life, the humble dumpling actually has a rich cultural significance – the crescent shaped jiaozi dumplings are considered auspicious during Chinese New Year because their shape resembles ancient Chinese gold ingots.
Lift the lid off a bamboo dim sum steamer, and after the steam evaporates, you’re likely to find delicious dumplings; har gow and siu mai are synonymous with dim sum. Har gow, translucent dumplings containing prawns, is best swallowed with fiery chilli sauce, while siu mai, open dumplings with egg flour skin wrapped around pork mince go well with both chilli and soy sauce.
Round xiao long bao, originating from Shanghai, is a steamed dumpling with a meat mince or seafood centre that resembles a mini money bag. When freshly steamed, the centre becomes juicy, squirting delicious hot broth at first bite.
But before steamed dumplings conquered the West, Cantonese won tons were the most famous dumplings outside of Asia. Unlike most dumplings the shell is made from wheat flour mixed with egg, which gives it an attractive golden tone. Boiled rather than steamed, the shell has a firm, pasta texture.
Dumplings are also particularly delicious when deep fried. Gyoza, served piping hot, is still pretty popular on the streets of Tokyo. Served up as a hearty side to a bowl or noodles or enjoy them on their own, dipped in soy sauce.
They might look humble, but dumplings are deceptively versatile; fried, boiled or steamed, it’s the ultimate satisfying fast food fix that can be enjoyed anytime and anywhere in Asia.
Hong Kong – won ton egg noodle soup
The competition for the best bowl of won ton egg noodle in Hong Kong town is fierce. Almost a national dish, the rivalry between noodle shops and lively debate between their fans are legendary. Some of the most popular shops serve up noodles and dumplings in a small rice bowl. Prawn won tons are particularly popular, dainty and delicate, bite into one and you’ll be rewarded with a concentrated burst of seafood flavour.
Cathay Pacific First and Business Class customers can order a bowl of hot won ton egg noodle soup any time if they’re peckish, and it’s also offered at Cathay Pacific Lounges with a dedicated Noodle Bar including Hong Kong (The Wing and The Pier), London, Paris and San Francisco.
Shanghai – dim sum dumplings
Dumpling lovers will love Shanghai. Grab some steamed xiao long bao or auspicious jiaozi and continue the journey with dim sum classics, har gao and siu mai. Cathay Pacific’s gourmet dim sum basket offers five elegant dumplings including shrimp and pork gold fish and rabbit, scallop and fish egg dumpling, and crab meat and chive parcel. Available on selected Cathay Pacific First and Business Class flights.
Tokyo – gyoza
The cherry blossom streets of Tokyo might be home to ubiquitous ramen houses, but gyoza hold their own. Eateries with only gyoza on the menu are attracting long queues of hungry fans across Tokyo and the rest of Japan.