Tips For Making The Perfect Dumplings, Courtesy Of Kristina Cho

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From dumplings to milk bread, food blogger and two-time James Beard Award-winning author Kristina Cho knows her way around the kitchen when it comes to traditional Chinese cuisine

Cho has made it her mission to make Chinese and Cantonese cooking accessible to everyone. Through her book, "Mooncakes and Milk Bread," Cho has inspired others to explore these vibrant and comforting flavors. "I think the book has empowered a lot of bakers or just people who are fans of these recipes to make them on their own," Cho told Tasting Table in an exclusive interview. "I've provided a lot of base recipes and techniques, and I also tried my best to kind of teach them these recipes in a way that they feel confident to take it on their own path." As Cho explained, finding your own way is an integral part of Chinese culture. "I think that is also the spirit of Chinese culture, providing so many options that you can turn to," she said. 

One example of this is with making dumplings, though as Cho advised, it may take some practice before you're ready to begin taking your own path with these doughy delights.

Mastering the art of dumplings

When done properly, dumplings take decadence to the next level. Between the juicy filling and burst of flavor, dumplings are a traditional Chinese dish that delivers the ultimate level of comfort. That said, making dumplings from scratch can seem daunting. According to Kristina Cho, the key for those new to making dumplings is to strictly follow measurements. "If you're making [dumplings] from scratch for the first time, I always recommend using weight measurements for anything that includes flour and water," Cho said. "Especially with dumplings, because the first time you make dumpling dough, you don't know the consistency or the texture that you're really looking for." As Cho cautioned, "Even an extra two tablespoons of flour in your dough will change the texture of it."

However, while it is very important to weigh things out in the beginning, Cho also made it clear that practice makes perfect. "Eventually, once you kind of get into the practice of making dumplings and making the dough, you start to develop this intuition," she said. "You're like, 'Oh, I don't really need to weigh this anymore because I know that this dough could probably use a little bit more water or a little bit more flour.'" 

It's all in the dough

While making your own dough might seem like a large undertaking, it is the best way to ensure top-notch results, according to Kristina Cho. "For someone who's never made dumplings before, I highly, highly recommend making your own dough from scratch. I think that's what separates a good dumpling from an incredible dumpling," said Cho. "Store-bought dumpling wrappers just aren't going to give you the same chew or even flavor, really. I mean, they're fine ... but homemade dough has that wonderful, al dente pasta texture that you get from just thick noodles."

When it comes to the filling, the process is much easier. "The filling is really hard to mess up," explained Cho. "Literally, if you just mix cabbage, ground pork, and beef or something along those lines, and season it so that it tastes good, you're fine." But as Cho reiterated, great dumplings are all about the dough. "The dough can really make or break it," she said.

Kristina Cho's James Beard award-winning book "Mooncakes and Milk Bread" is available on Amazon.