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Dumplings by Vanessa

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Chinese Food in the USA

Fall Volume: 2007 Issue: 14(3) page(s): 28 and 31

The Chinese do love snacks. Often reserved for morning or mid-day meals, they are also used to break up long luscious banquets. For years they have known that meat, poultry, fish, and/or vegetables packaged in dough make great snack foods. What the very first ones were may be a mystery, but investigating early Chinese literature, uncovers the fact that they were probably hunton. These are known by many of us as 'won ton.' What is less well known is that this fantastic dough-filled goodie has origins at least as early as during the Han dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE).

In the Fang Yen, a volume published circa 15 BCE, they were called hun and ping fu. The latter was a stuffed dough; those shaped like a crescent moon were popular even then. In 1959, a multi-thousand-year-old dehydrated crescent-shaped wonton-style dough was found in a Thang tomb near Turfan. Carbon-dating this dried dumpling-type item does assure its place in antiquity.

The earliest written recipe for this type of food including those now known as pot stickers, may be the one found in the Wu Shih Chung Khuei Lu. That one had a mixing of flour and salt with water. It recommended kneading it a hundred times, then dividing the dough into small balls, flattening each with what was translated as a rolling pin, and using pea flour to prevent them from sticking. Yuan Mei, a celebrated Chinese author found a similar recipe and declared it delicious.

This article continues speaking about a set of dumpling houses and dumpling history in general. Check it out in Restaurant Reviews.

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