Everyone has their ‘little dumpling’

In Recipes on February 28, 2011 at 4:37 am

Dumplings are a truly multicultural food.  Broadly speaking, they include the unfilled potato and bread dumplings that are added to soups and stews in Germany and Eastern Europe.  There are also the pastas of Italy gnocchi, orrichette, penne, even spaghetti if you ignore its shape.  In Asia unfilled types could include rice noodles.  Of course, that is only if you define dumplings as a sort of manufactured starch that would have been used by peasants to make food go further.  The word ‘dumpling’ would, in most people, immediately make them think of food that ‘sticks to the ribs’.  Dumplings are generally either boiled, steamed or fried.

Dumplings hit new heights when they are filled.  Think pelmeni from Russia and Siberia, ravioli, tortellini, agnolotti from Italy. There is gyoza from Japan, xio long bau and sui mai from China.  Even spring rolls fromVietnam could be seen as a type of deep fried dumpling like won tons.

When I was in Footscray the other day I dropped into Little Saigon, a wonderful Vietnamese supermarket overflowing with fresh and relatively cheap Vietnamese ingredients.  I picked up some garlic chives, three types of mint, some fresh coriander, bean shoots, birds eye chillies, lemongrass and a green papaya.  From my local butcher and Asian grocer I added some pork mince, rice vermicelli noodles, thick rice paper sheets, gyoza wrappers and limes.  From all of this I made a sort of general purpose pork mince filling suitable for dumplings or spring rolls.

Pork mince filling


1 kg pork mince

2 pink shallots (finely diced)

2 stalks lemongrass (finely chopped)

1 tbs coriander roots (finely chopped)

1 knob ginger (finely chopped)

2 tbs garlic chives (finely chopped)

2 tbs mint (finely chopped)

2 birds eye chillies (finely chopped)


Mix all ingredients together.  Marinate in a covered bowl in the fridge for at least two hours or overnight.  When ready to use finish with some more chopped fresh garlic chives, chopped fresh herbs, a dash of fish sauce and a squeeze of lime juice.

My son and I used some of this mixture to make gyozas for our lunch.  These are actually a Japanese ‘pot sticker’ dumpling and I know the filling leans more towards Vietnamese cuisine but it didn’t really matter.  We steamed the filled skins for 15 minutes and then browned them on on one side in a frying pan.

To the mixture that was left I added a half a dozen chopped raw prawns to make a filling for Vietnamese spring rolls.

Quick and easy to wrap

Vietnamese Spring Rolls


12 rice paper spring roll wrappers

500 g pork and prawn mince mixture (see above)

a good handful of rice vermicelli noodles (blanched according to directions on packet)

a good handful of bean shoots


Soak the rice paper sheets in warm water a couple at a time.  This should only take about thirty seconds.  Fill with a little of the pork mixture, topped with some vermicelli noodles, bean shoots and I put a garlic chive (you could use a piece of split spring onion or a fresh mint leaf) on top to make it look pretty.  Turn over the edge nearest to you and start rolling, folding in the edges when you get half way up the sheet.  Because these ones are going to be deep fried try to make sure they are really well sealed.  If in doubt it is all right to wrap with a second sheet, just remember you will need more sheets and you may need to let the rolls rest on your board fro 20 minutes or so to dry them out a bit.  I then deep fried them in batches in hot oil.  They took about ten minutes or until they start to lightly brown (don’t expect them to go as brown as ordinary spring rolls, just make sure they are crisp).  Drain well on a rack.

Vietnamese spring rolls

  1. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written much better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I most certainly will forward this article to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a great read.
    Thanks for sharing!

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