Dumplings are one of the most ubiquitous cross-cultural comfort foods in the world. Poland has the pierogi. Japan has gyoza. Italy has ravioli and tortellini. China has potstickers- Argentina, empanadas. Every country on earth has its own regional style and flavor of dumplings. It’s a comfort food that can be made with either the simplest or complex ingredients. So, what is a dumpling exactly?
By definition, the word dumpling simply refers to a dish that is made from small pieces of dough that are wrapped around a filling, like a stuffed pocket. The dough pockets can be made from flour, cornmeal, bread or potatoes, and filled with a wide variety of ingredients.
Dumplings can be steamed, boiled, baked or fried. Some people put them in soups or stews, while others simply dip them into flavorful sauces. They are culinary proof that delicious, wonderful things come in small doughy packages.
Let’s take a look at a few ways to use dumplings and some simple recipes that will inspire adding more dumplings in your meals.
In Soups, Stews, & Gravies
Is there anything more comforting on a chilly day than a big bowl of warm soup filled with delightfully doughy dumplings? Doubtful. Soups and stews benefit from the heartiness that dumplings can add to a dish, and the dumpling’s versatility means they can take on any flavor profile. Dumplings are also the perfect vehicle for soaking up a rich, savory gravy.
The word ravioli is from an old Italian word riavvolgere, which means “to wrap.” Pasta probably isn’t the first food that comes to mind when thinking about dumplings, but they should. These stuffed pockets are delicious, and much like other dumplings, can be filled with just about anything you can think of.
In Potstickers & More
There is something extremely satisfying about making your own dumplings at home. You get to choose the dough and the ingredients you favor, and you get to choose exactly how they’re cooked. It’s the perfect time to experiment with different ingredient and sauce combinations. Don’t let the idea of making your own dough stop you from trying a delicious sounding dumpling recipe either. Many of them are super simple and require only a few ingredients.
Who says dumplings must be savory? Dumplings are the perfect pockets for sweet fruits, nuts or even sweetened rice. Dessert dumplings make a satisfyingly sweet dessert, an indulgent morning meal, or after-lunch-before-dinner snack. Set aside the savory fillings and check out these sweet variations of the traditional savory dumpling.