Hugh Amano and Sarah Becan follow up their popular Let's Make Ramen! with their equally exuberant Let's Make Dumplings!: A Comic Book Cookbook. They begin with an overview of just what a cultural mainstay dumplings have become (Italian tortellini, anyone?). In addition to the array of Chinese dumplings (especially Jiaozi), the co-creators provide recipes for Japaneze Gyoza and Korean Mando.
A double-page spread of pantry staples and another of cooking equipment make (with some prep work) spontaneous dumpling dinners easy. And directions for freezing all manner of dumplings (except for Baozi, which are better cooked fresh or with minimal refrigeration), allow for no-fuss spreads with a bountiful assortment of savory and sweet options. The graphic novel approach gives readers a sense of the shapes and folds of different types of dumplings (e.g., wontons vs. pleated crescents) that can be challenging to detect in photographs, and the sequential art makes the step-by-step instructions a breeze. The artwork also injects some humor into memorable cautionary steps; for instance, a panel illustration of the dough "resting" under a blanket emphasizes the 30-minute waiting period, strongly recommended between creating the dough and manipulating it into round or square dumplings.
Amano and Becan even offer tips on how to work chopsticks and, in the case of xiaolongbao (soup dumplings filled with warm broth), balancing the dumpling on a spoon while using chopsticks to open a small hole for the steam to escape before draining the dumpling of fluid (into your mouth) and then eating it. They recommend preferred approaches for cooking each type of dumpling (steaming, frying, deep-frying), then encourage cooks to experiment. --Jennifer M. Brown, senior editor, Shelf Awareness