Let’s Make Dumplings!
Let’s Make Dumplings!, the comic book cookbook by Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan, is incredibly thorough, which makes it ideal for a deep dive into a cuisine almost everyone loves: Asian dumplings.
The book, illustrated in simple style but brimming with detail, is friendly in tone, as though the authors are keeping you company in the kitchen. The reader will learn legends, ingredients, equipment, and techniques, including how to fold different shapes and how to eat them.
The recipe section includes the traditional pork-and-cabbage gyoza, soup dumplings (xiaolongbao), potstickers, shumai, baozi (bao), and even soups that feature dumplings, such as the classic wonton soup. Reading all of them one after another will quickly make it clear which methods and techniques are common across the various versions.
Some recipes are likely less familiar, which suggests new types to seek out and try. There’s a small section of original flavor combinations, including maple, bacon, and egg, as well as sweet dumplings, and of course, dipping sauces.
I’m confident the book can be cooked from, but take it slow: all this comprehensive information can seem overwhelming. It’s definitely thorough, with plenty of explanations. The first recipe, for example, is how to make and handle your own dumpling wrapper dough. They start from scratch, covering every aspect of the meal.
The illustrations show every step, which provides reassurance and keeps it from becoming intimidating. Becan draws herself involved in the process. That makes for a comforting companion, someone working through the many steps with the reader.
The two authors previously released Let’s Make Ramen!, which was similarly detailed, to the extent of teaching the reader how to make their own noodles. It’s a wonderful way to understand more about the soup bowl, its ingredients, and the way to best enjoy them, with a bunch of different recipes for broths, flavorings, and toppings. The emphasis on using all the senses to enjoy the meal is eye-opening.
Both books are recommended for the obsessive, the type who wants to know everything about something they love or have just discovered. I can easily see someone who loves Asian cuisine simply devouring these volumes. Whether they’re actually used as a cookbook or not, there’s a ton of informative knowledge that will enhance the enjoyment of eating the dishes.
(Review originally posted at Good Comics for Kids.)