Ever since his Grand-mere taught him to make wontons as a kid, MasterChef’s Brendan Pang has had a lifelong love of dumplings.
Now he’s busy serving them out of his dumpling kitchen Bumplings in Fremantle and has written a cookbook starring them, aptly titled This is a Book about Dumplings.
After coming ninth on MasterChef Australia in 2018, he’s on our TV screens again for Back To Win, impressing the judges with recipes that often celebrate his Chinese-Mauritian roots.
“My family has played the biggest role in inspiring me and exciting me,” Pang says.
“My Grand-mere taught me how to fold wontons and how to make egg noodles from scratch, so I think it just started from there. She actually didn’t know how to make too many dumplings herself, but a tradition for us was going out for Yum Cha each Sunday.”
While he has made a name for himself as MasterChef’s resident dumpling expert, Pang says he’s also been enjoying cooking Italian food recently.
“I think it stems from my obsession with dough and making my own dough from scratch. But I’ve started to make a lot of pasta dishes.”
Pang has shared one of his Grand-mere’s treasured recipes with Hibernation, along with two of his own and his top tips for making the perfect dumplings at home.
For home cooks who have never made dumplings before, he says to “go one step at a time.”
“Maybe just start small on making the filling and use some store bought wrappers, and then maybe next time try the wrappers as well. Or start with something simple like wontons.”
If you do opt to make your own, Pang says incorporating an egg into your filling will help create a light and silky texture.
“But don’t overfill your dumplings. There is a fine line between over filling and under filling. The best way to overcome this is to make as many as you can so you get a good feel for filling to wrapper ratio.”
His advice is to always use fresh ingredients where possible, especially aromats like spring onion and ginger.
Pang’s new cookbook has more secrets to creating these classic handmade dumplings, accompanied by side dishes, noodles, and sauces.
After working on it for over a year he’s proud to see fans, MasterChef alum and friends alike replicating his recipes.
“It’s kind of surreal. I never thought three years ago when I applied for MasterChef I’d ever get to publish my own cookbook. I think that’s the best thing, when people recreate the food that you’re putting out there and really enjoy it.”
Don’t miss Brendan Pang on MasterChef Australia, from Sun – Tues, 7:30pm on Ten.
GRANDMERE’S FRIED PORK WONTONS
Makes 30 wontons
30 wonton wrappers
Vegetable oil, to fry
300g pork mince
20ml light soy sauce
30g oyster sauce
1 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp finely grated ginger
5ml sesame oil
5ml Shaoxing cooking wine
1⁄4 tsp ground white pepper
Pinch of salt
Spicy Korean Mayonnaise
1/3 cup kewpie mayonnaise
1 tbsp Gochujang (Korean chilli paste)
1. To make the wonton filling, place all ingredients in a mixing bowl and mix vigorously in one direction until the mixture binds. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Working with one wonton wrapper at a time, place 1 heaped teaspoon of filling in the centre. Brush two adjoining edges of the square with water. Fold the wet edges over (in half) to make a triangular shape and enclose the filling. Brush one of the corners with water and fold inward to overlap with the other corner. Press to seal. Place onto a tray lined with baking paper, cover loosely with a tea towel and repeat process to form remaining dumplings.
3. To make the Spicy Korean Mayonnaise place all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir until well combined. Set aside in the fridge until required.
4. When ready to cook the wontons, fill a pot with vegetable oil to about two thirds of the way up and heat to 180C. Test by dipping a wooden chopstick into the oil. It will sizzle when ready. Gently lowering wontons in batches into the oil and cook until golden brown, about 3-5 minutes. Drain on a plate lined with paper towels and serve immediately with Spicy Korean Mayonnaise.
RED CURRY CHICKEN WONTON SOUP
Serves 6 people
35 wonton wrappers
A bunch of bok choy, trimmed
Coriander, to serve
Long red chilli, sliced, to serve
350g chicken mince
1 small carrot, grated
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tsp ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
1⁄2 tsp sesame oil
Red Curry Soup
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
15g ginger, finely grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tbsp red curry paste
4 cups chicken stock
1 can coconut milk
1 1⁄2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1. For the wonton filling, place all ingredients into a medium bowl and mix vigorously in one
direction until the mixture binds. Cover and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. To assemble, place 1 heaped teaspoon of the mixture into the centre of a wonton wrapper.
Brush two adjoining edges with water. Fold the wet edge over to meet the dry edge, to form
a triangle. Pinch along the edge to seal and enclose the filling. Brush one corner of the
triangle with water and fold inward to overlap the other corner. Press to seal. Repeat using
remaining wrappers and chicken mixture. Set aside covered with a tea towel until required.
3. To make the red curry soup, heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion,
ginger and garlic, and cook for 1 minute, stirring until fragrant and soft. Add the red curry
paste and cook for a further minute. Whisk in chicken stock, coconut milk, brown sugar and
salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes. Taste and season.
4. To finish, add wontons to the soup and cook, boiling, for about 6 minutes. Add in bok choy
and cook for a further 2 minutes. To serve, divide wontons and bok choy among serving
bowls. Ladle over some soup and top with coriander and chilli.
GRILLED FIVE-SPICE STEAK JIANBING
4 eggs, beaten
2 spring onions, finely chopped
4 tablespoons hoisin
1⁄2 cucumber, de-seeded and julienne
2 spring onions, julienne
1 small carrot, peeled and julienne
1/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup white flour
1 teaspoon corn starch
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3⁄4 cup water
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
3⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon ground black pepper
450g flank steak
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1. To make the jianbing batter, place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk until smooth
and the batter is the consistency of heavy cream. Add one teaspoon of water at a time to
thin the batter if necessary. Set aside until required.
2. For the steak, combine five-spice powder, brown sugar, salt, and ground black pepper in a
small bowl. Rub spice mixture over both sides of the flank steak.
3. Heat a large pan over medium-high. Add vegetable oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add steak to pan and cook for 4 minutes on each side or until desired doneness. Remove steak from pan
and let stand covered for 5 to 10 minutes. Cut steak across the grain into thin slices.
4. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat and brush with vegetable oil. When the
oil begins to shimmer, pour in 1⁄4 of the jianbing batter. Working quickly, swirl the pan to
spread the batter as thinly as possible. Cook crepe 1 – 2 minutes until firm. Pour 1⁄4 of the
beaten egg mix over the crepe, spread quickly and evenly with a spatula, sprinkle with a
little spring onion, and cook 1 – 2 minutes until egg is set.
5. Flip the crepe and spread the top side with 1 tablespoon hoisin and continue to cook for
another minute. Place a few slices of steak in the centre along with cucumber, spring onion
and carrot. Fold in half twice and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining ingredients.