Delicately-packaged parcels stuffed with all manner of tasty treats, dumplings are a feature of global cooking. Refined over centuries, every country has developed and perfected their own individual approaches to the dumpling conundrum, and the result is a kaleidoscopic canvas of different delicious recipes.
Each is subtly different, yet clearly connected by common ancestry. Collected from cuisines across the world, here are nine of the most delicious dumplings money can buy.
1. Gyoza - Japan
If there is any dish that proves there’s more to Japan than sushi, it is gyoza. Pan-fried and highly flavoured envelopes of dough are stuffed with anything from pork to vegetables to seafood. Served with a sharp vinegary sauce, these Asian sensations are up there with the best of them.
2. Ravioli - Italy
Indisputably one of the most popular pasta dishes on the planet, ravioli is an Italian institution that commands respect. An ever-present on fine dining menus and street stalls alike, these sizeable squares can be paired with almost any filling and will still end up tasting tremendous.
3. Pelmeni - Russia
Looking like the love child of a pierogi and a tortellini, these traditional Russian delicacies are delicious in their own right. Typically filled with a simple mix of multiple meats, pelmeni were originally developed as a means of preserving meat during the long Russian winter.
4. Empanada - Argentina
Hailing from South America, these deep fried hand-held pies bring the heat in more ways than one. Served hot and seasoned with chilli and peppercorns, beef empanadas make for either a spicy starter to a traditional Argentinian asado, or a substantial snack. Either way, they’re undeniably yummy.
5. Samosa - India
A fixture on Middle Eastern and Indian menus the world over, these triangular pastries have developed into global comfort food favourites. Traditionally stuffed with spiced lamb mince, modern samosas have morphed into myriad flavours and varieties, but have managed to retain their distinctive shape.
6. Pierogi - Poland
One of the unsung heroes of the pastry world, Polish pierogies are rightly considered a source of great national pride. Boiled dumplings stuffed with a number of sweet or savoury fillings, pierogies are flexible and tasty enough to satisfy as a starter, main course or even dessert.
7. Pasty - England
The biggest dumpling on this list may not be particularly elegant, but it is undeniably tasty. Originating from the English county of Cornwall, traditional pasties feature flavourful gravy, slices of steak and chunks of chopped vegetables, all encased in rich, buttery shortcrust pastry. An all-in-one meal, this dumpling can fill any hunger hole.
8. Momo - Nepal/Tibet
The origin of these circular steamed dumplings is a subject of some debate. Wherever they come from, momos have spread to all corners of the culinary world. Traditionally filled with spiced ground meat, today, there are flavours to cater for every taste, making them the perfect accompaniment to any Asian meal.
9. Xiao Long Bao - China
With their ancient dim sum traditions, China is perhaps rightly regarded as dumpling HQ. For all the intricate flavours on display, xiao long bao are a cut above the rest. Steamed dumplings stuffed with a variety of delicious meaty fillings, these balls of joy are served in bowls of steaming broth, meaning that xiao long bao offer diners the best of both worlds.
Stuffing things into dough is a culinary dance as old as time itself. With so many different types of pastry and near infinite fillings available, there is no limit to the number of dumplings that it’s possible to produce. For anyone who wants to taste true greatness, however, these nine are the only place to start.