Dumplings are a universally loved dish. Although dumplings are often associated with Chinese cuisine, there are many different types of dumplings.
In Asian cuisine, dumplings are bite-sized balls of dough filled with different kinds of savory fillings. However, dumplings can also be sweet and filled with fresh or dried fruits.
If you’re trying to avoid gluten or have been recently diagnosed with celiac disease, you might wonder if you can eat Chinese dumplings.
So, are dumplings gluten-free? Not all dumplings are gluten-free, as some are made with wheat-based flour. Most dumpling dough is made with all-purpose wheat flour, which is unsuitable for people following a gluten-free diet. However, dumplings can also be made with gluten-free flour, potato, quinoa, or bean-based flour.
This article will tell you more about dumplings, including who invented this delicious dish and how it’s made. We’ll also tell you how to cook dumplings and which fillings can be used in dumplings.
What Is a Dumpling?
Dumpling is a term used to describe a variety of tasty dishes from around the world. Simply put, a dumpling is a bite-size piece of dough wrapped around a filling.
Depending on the country, the dumpling dough can be made of potatoes, flour, buckwheat, or bread. Dumpling wrappers can be filled with various fillings, including meat, fish, vegetables, tofu, cheese, fruits, and sweets.
Most commonly, dumplings are made with all-purpose wheat flour. However, it’s possible to make gluten-free dumplings using gluten-free flour like tapioca starch or rice flour.
Dumplings can be prepared using several different cooking methods, including boiling, frying, baking, simmering, or steaming.
Origin of Dumplings
It’s unclear who created dumplings, but according to legends, dumplings (jiaozi) were invented during the Han dynasty. The invention of dumplings is credited to Zhang Zhongjing, a famous Chinese medicine practitioner.
During a harsh winter, when Zhang returned to his hometown, he noticed many poor people suffering from freezing weather. Thanks to his understanding of Chinese herbs and medicine, Zhang mixed herbs that heat the body with lamb and chili in the dough. He then folded the dough into bite-sized blobs, cooked them in boiling water, and served them to poor people.
After eating the cooked dumplings and drinking the soup they were cooked in, the people’s frostbite healed quickly. Because of this, it’s tradition to eat dumplings during the winter in China.
In ancient times, dumplings were not common and were treated as a luxury. Even today, people serve jiaozi to celebrate special occasions, like the New Year.
What Are Dumplings Made of?
Dumplings are a type of dish that consists of a bite-size ball of dough. Extremely versatile, dumplings can be filled with various savory and sweet ingredients.
The dumpling dough is made of three basic ingredients – flour, water, and salt. Most dumplings are made using standard wheat flour, making them unsuitable for a gluten-free diet.
However, there are several varieties of dumpling dough. In addition to wheat flour, the dumpling dough can be made using potatoes, bread, and gluten-free flour like tapioca or rice flour.
The dumpling dough is then stuffed with different fillings, like beef, pork, dried shrimp, chicken, carrot, lamb, spinach and ricotta, cheese, shrimp, and many more. Popular dumpling fillings vary by region. In some countries, savory fillings are more popular than sweet fillings and vice versa.
For example, in North America, chicken dumplings soup is an iconic dish that features flour dumplings and vegetables thrown in a hearty chicken broth.
In China, dumping dough is usually filled with pork and gluten-free vegetables like cabbage and spring onion seasoned with soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and sesame oil.
In Japan, gyoza is a variety of Chinese jiaozi. It is made with a thin, round wrapper filled with minced pork, mushrooms, cabbage, and carrot.
European dumplings are often sweet and filled with fruits like plums and apples, seasoned with cinnamon or nutmeg.
How to Cook Dumplings?
There are three basic ways to prepare dumplings – boiling, steaming, and steam-frying. The cooking method used to prepare dumplings depends on the shape of the dumplings and what you’re craving.
Use the following cooking methods when preparing fresh or frozen dumplings.
This cooking method yields tender dumplings with a stretchy and slightly firmer skin than that boiled dumplings. To steam dumplings, you will need a bamboo or another basket steamer that fits over a wok or pot.
Line the steaming basket with parchment paper and poke a few holes in it to allow the steam to pass through. Fill the wok or pot with an inch of water and bring it to a boil.
Place the steaming basket filled with dumplings over the pot, cover it, and steam for 10 to 15 minutes.
Boiling is the most popular method of cooking dumplings. However, it applies the most pressure and can cause the dumplings to fall apart during cooking.
When boiling dumplings, you’ll need to add cold water to the boiling water three times before the dumplings are cooked. Don’t forget to cover the pot each time you add cold water.
Use a non-stick pan or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet for steam-frying, as dumplings tend to stick. Heat the pan over medium-high heat and drizzle vegetable oil.
Place the dumplings in the pan, flat-side down, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the bottom side is lightly browned. Next, add around 3 tablespoons of water to the pan, cover it with a lid, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove the lid, and let the dumplings cook for another 30 seconds to get extra crispy bottoms.
Dumplings are bite-sized globs of dough filled with different fillings. This popular dish is usually made with wheat-based flour and is unsuitable for people following a gluten-free diet.
However, the dumpling dough can be made using gluten-free flour like tapioca starch and rice flour. Furthermore, dumplings made from buckwheat, quinoa, potato, or bean-based flour are typically gluten-free.