Along with perseverance and practice, there is one other weapon that can take your dumpling game to the next level: a small dumpling rolling pin. Sometimes called a Chinese rolling pin, it’s like a regular rolling pin but shorter and thinner. While I was in Hong Kong a few years ago, I wandered into a restaurant supply store and came across a display of mini rollers, ranging in width, length, and shape, everything from thin dowels to ones with tapered ends. I picked out a few to bring home and try.
I learned then what I wished I had learned years before. A shorter and thinner rolling pin makes a huge difference. The main improvement was in the handling—it gave me so much more control over rolling than an unwieldy large rolling pin and made it easier to maneuver with one hand, freeing the other hand to turn the dough. I was able to produce dumpling wrappers that were the round, thin shape I wanted as well as thinner on the edges than the middle.
Dumpling rolling pins are usually about 9–12 inches long, in varying widths. The thinnest one I own is only ½-inch in diameter, but my favorite is 1-inch thick and 9 inches long. The width you choose may depend on the size of your hands and what feels most comfortable to you. To start, I recommend a 1-inch diameter roller that is around 10 inches long.
These small rolling pins can be purchased at Asian kitchenware stores and online, but if you are looking for a less expensive alternative, a simple dowel from the hardware store would work well too. Look for a round dowel that is about ¾–1" thick and ask them to cut it to 10 inches long. Make sure you sand and oil them before first use.
Once you have your small rolling pin, it can also be used for other projects that require working with small pieces of dough. I also use mine for rolling dough for char siu bao, mochi, tortillas, empanadas, and hand pies. Outside of dough, small rolling pins can do double-time as a muddler, as it’s the perfect size and shape to crush fruit and herbs for cocktails. I also use mine to smash things up in the kitchen, like graham crackers for pie crust or ice.
Arguably the most essential tool in your dumpling-making arsenal, a smaller rolling pin will make a big difference in improving your wrapper rolling skills—it did for me.
Roll with it:Hetty McKinnon
To Asia, With Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories From the Heart
Partially excerpted from TO ASIA, WITH LOVE by Hetty McKinnon. Copyright 2020 by Hetty McKinnon. Published by Prestel, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Reprinted with permission.
Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit