On a cool, windy, rainy day last week, I developed a serious craving for an Asian-style dumpling soup. A brothy, filling creation infused with ginger and garlic, stocked with vegetables and mushrooms that, of course, had flavourfull dumplings in it. In other words, the kind of soup that will warm you up, delight your palate and make you feel good, no matter how crummy the weather is outside.
The only problem was that I did not have the time or inclination to make my own dumplings for the soup. And, in the end, that wasn’t a problem, because you can buy good quality, ready to cook, frozen Asian-style dumplings.
The ones I bought were made by Dumpling Drop in at 556A Pandora Ave. in Victoria’s Chinatown, Their dumplings come in a range of flavours, such as pork belly, classic vegan, shrimp and chive and lemongrass chicken, and any one of them will work in my soup.
Dumpling Drop dumplings can be bought at their Chinatown location and ordered online at dumplingdrop.ca. They can also be bought at a number of Victoria area food stores and other businesses selling locally made food products, such as Pepper’s Food Store, Niche Grocerant, Rock Bay Market, The Root Cellar, Red Barn Market and other locales.
Larger grocery stores, such as Fairway Market, sell a wide range of other frozen Asian-style dumplings that will also work in my soup, such as pork soup dumplings.
Asian-style dumplings, such as those made by Dumpling Drop, are most often fried, covered and steamed until cooked. But I’ve also had success simmering them, setting them in a bowl, and then topping them with a brothy vegetable mixture, how I made this soup. Once in the bowl, the soup is dressed up with thinly sliced green onion, aromatic leaves of cilantro, soy sauce and chili sauce (or chili oil), creating a delicious concoction to enjoy for lunch or dinner.
Asian-style Dumpling Soup
Simmered Asian-style dumplings, set in large soup bowls, topped with a ginger-, garlic- and sesame oil-infused broth, enhanced with vegetables, mushrooms and other good things.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: About eight minutes
Makes: two servings
10 or 12 chicken, vegetable, pork, beef, shrimp or other frozen Asian-style dumplings
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 to 2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 medium or large garlic clove, minced
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup grated carrot
4 medium to large shiitake mushrooms, tough stems removed, caps thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups sui choy (Chinese cabbage) or baby bok choy, chopped
1 green onion, thinly sliced
• fresh cilantro leaves, to taste
• soy sauce to taste
• hot Asian-style chili sauce, such as Sriracha, or chili oil, to taste (optional)
Pour eight cups of water into an eight-inch or so wide pot, set over medium, medium-high heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Meanwhile, place stock, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, carrots and mushrooms in a second pot and set it aside for now.
When the water is gently simmering, add the frozen dumplings to it. Return to a gentle simmer and gently simmer dumplings (do not boil them or they may fall part) five minutes, or until cooked through and the dumpling wrappers look a tiny bit translucent where the filling is.
While the dumplings cook, set the pot with the stock mixture in it over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Add the sui choy (or baby bok choy) to the stock mixture and then turn heat to medium-low.
When cooked, lift dumplings out of the water and divide them between two large soup bowls. Divide and ladle some of the stock mixture into each bowl. Sprinkle soups with green onions and cilantro. Serve with soy sauce and hot chili sauce (or chili oil), for spooning into the soup, to taste, at the table.
Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.