Updated: Mar 26
Dumplings are a delicious snack loved by all. These lovely parcels of just dough or dough and meat, and sometimes as sweet dumpling versions can be found across Europe and Asia.
How much of a dumpling-fan are you really? Any dumpling fan would be a history buff? Let us begin on a dumpling historical journey from the East to the West: from China to Japan to Italy and even Australia.
Are you ready? Let’s delve a bit deeper into the fold of these delectable little dumplings!
Known as Jiaozi, Chinese dumplings date all the way back to 1800 years ago, invented by a man named Zhang Zhongijian. Zhang returned to his village after a long absence in the winter, only to be met by the rest of the villagers who were suffering from frostbite, particularly around their ears. As a way to cure them, Zhang cooked up a batch of mutton, chilli and healing herbs, wrapped them in scraps of dough and then folded them to look like ears.
No one really knows if Zhang’s dumplings cured the villagers, but hey, at least delicious food resulted from it!
Check out George Zhao in the behind the scene video making Chinese dumplings! He's got more talent up his sleeves while busy as an actor for the SBS TV series, The Family Law.
The gyoza originated from China and are also commonly known as potstickers. This is because rumor has it that a Chinese chef intended to boil jiaozi in a wok, but walked away and returned to find all of the water boiled off. The dumpling stuck to the pan and got crispy, which is how the dumpling got its name of potsticker, which literally means "stuck to the wok."
In fact, gyoza is the Japanese pronunciation of Jiaozi! Japanese soldiers became familiar with Jiaozi during World War II when they were quartered in China. When the soldiers returned home to Japan, they wanted to recreate Jiaozi and thus the gyoza was born!
Check out Mayu Iwasaki in the behind the scene video making Japanese dumplings! She's not just a pretty face. This kickass black belt martial artist is also the co-founder of Bubbletent Australia!
Say whaaaaaat?! I wonder if she can push my booking up by 9 months?
Ravioli, tortellini and gnocchi are Italy’s very own version of dumplings. The word coming from the Italian riavvolgere, which means “to wrap”.
The earliest mention of Ravioli comes from the writings of Francesco di Marco, a merchant of Venice in the 14th century. If you look closely at how a ravioli is folded, you’ll find it is very similar to how Korean dumplings are made as well!
Tortellini makes an entrance in Italian history in the 16th century. While the origin of these bundle of joy continues to be in dispute between Bologna and Modena, however one thing is for sure, the shape of a tortellini was inspired by Venus' navel.
Another dumpling version is gnocchi. The word gnocchi is believed to derive from the Italian word nocca which translates as "knuckles", not surprisingly. Gnocchi is an Italian potato dumpling that dates back to the 16th or 17th century, where Spanish explorers brought potatoes from South America and introduced them to Italian kitchens.
Check out Emilie Lauer in the behind the scene video making Italian dumplings - tortellini! She overachieved by making three different fillings and gave her rolling pin a real work out.
I know what you’re thinking, Australia has its own version of dumplings?
Well, maybe not, but I guess the closest match would be none other than the classic meat pie! Meat pies were invented as a way to preserve meat in medieval Europe. Although, strangely enough, the pastry was not meant to be eaten! The pastry was used as a cooking container and preserver since there were no metal baking dishes or ways to keep food fresh back then.
Australia’s meat pie history began in the early 1800s when the first steam-powered commercial wheat mill opened in Sydney. Pie vendors set up on street corners or bakeries and now, the meat pie has been loved ever since!
I don’t know about you, but all this talk of dumplings is making me hungry! Why not give them a go and try making them yourself. They may not cure frostbite, but they sure will cure your hunger!
Don’t feel like cooking or you don’t have a tiger mum who likes to feed? No need to fret, why not visit these restaurants!
Shop 11.04, Level 1/644 George St, Sydney NSW 2000
5/5 STARS- Din Fai Tung has a novel way of ordering via an iPad on your table which made choosing what to eat an interactive process. The service was quick and friendly, however sometimes there is a line due to the restaurant’s popularity.The Shanghai dumplings and fried chicken mushroom potstickers with the crunchy outside crust definitely won’t disappoint!
430 Wattle St, Ultimo NSW 2007
4/5 STARS- This little Chinese restaurant offers a huge selection of dishes for cheap! From noodles, to pork buns, to dumplings, fried rice, stir fry and other meat and vegetable dishes. The pork chives dumplings are a must have on your table, as well as the braised eggplant dumplings for all the vegetarians!
1/14 Darling Dr, Sydney NSW 2000
4/5 STARS- Harajuku Gyoza is inclusive with their menu, tending to those with dietary requirements. On that note, the vegetable gyoza will make your mouth water! The venue is super nice and they serve your food on pretty aesthetic Japanese-themed plates (I got a plate with a sakura tree on it and I was ecstatic!) You order your food through tablets which means if you’re still hungry, you don’t have to worry about calling the staff again to order. A bit on the expensive side but the atmosphere and friendly service make up for it! Definitely a place to go with a large group of friends!
Level 1, 76 Ultimo Rd, Haymarket NSW 2000
3.5/5 STARS- The food is affordable and delicious, however the limited space was a bit uncomfortable as it can get a bit cramped. However the place is still popular, so expect to see queues in front of this small restaurant. I only learned after that it’s better to eat upstairs where it’s more spacious (but may be a bit noisy!) Despite that, the prawn gyoza won’t disappoint!
Bio: Eunice Cruz is a Filipino-Australian currently in her second year of Journalism and International Studies (China Major) at the University of Technology Sydney. She is always eager to learn more about other Asian cultures and is particularly interested in Korean language and culture. She has a strong passion for food, beauty and make-up. She also has a keen interest in investigative journalism and is events director of UTS Journalism Society.