Last week’s photo of my hand holding a bunch of cooking gadgets, including dumpling spatulas purchased at the Wok Shop in San Francisco caused several people to ask on Facebook and Instagram, “What is a dumpling spatula?” It’s a nifty gadget that dumpling geeks like me and professional dumpling makers use to efficiently place filling on wrappers without the filling sticking. Answering their questions prompted me to look through my kitchen at the tools I use most for making Asian dumplings. I've been collecting dumpling making implements for years and will save the esoteric ones for another post. These are my go-to dumpling tools.
After watching dumpling makers through shop windows use bamboo spatulas to place their filling, I wanted one. I’d not seen them in California and on a trip to New York City in 2007, I found a bunch at a restaurant supply shop in Chinatown. I chose the one on the left below. “Number one” felt good in my hand and was made of bamboo with character. It was lovely then as it is now, aged with my repeated use. I should have bought more because on my next trip to NYC, the store didn’t have any. Obviously the local dumpling makers knew a good thing.
It was years until I’d see the spatulas again. The second two came from a restaurant supply shop in Kowloon, Hong Kong. My bamboo spatula expanded with the two new ones from the Wok Shop; they are awfully big in my hand. My husband likes to use the bamboo spatulas for stirring up his almond butter and I’m encouraging him to use the bigger ones.
Size matters for these spatulas because like a knife, they need to fit your grip. That’s why I picked up the mini boat oar-shaped spatulas from LAX-C, a Thai restaurant supply place in Chinatown, Los Angeles. I also found the wood one at Sur La Table, which is okay in a pinch. It’s not thin enough.
Last Wednesday, Wok Shop owner Tane Chan suggested the small white nylon spreader, which is usually a cake decorating tool. “I bet it’s good for wontons,” she said.