Life Life

11/10/2019 - 07:08

Freshly steamed sweet potato dumplings

On such rainy days with cold breezes drifting through the door slits, nothing is more interesting than holding a couple of hot steamed sweet potato dumplings, feeling the warmth, and smelling their natural appealing sweetness.

The “best-selling” hot sweet potato dumplings on rainy days

Once popular, the steamed sweet potato dumplings have now for some reason reappeared on my Facebook newsfeed these days, reminiscent of my childhood and the hot sweet-smelling dumplings grandma made every early morning.

Back then, my family grew so many sweet potatoes that during the harvest season, mom and grandma had to turn the yields into various kinds of "dishes" to save for a rainy day such as khoai deo (specially sliced, dried sweet potato snacks), sundried sliced ​​sweet potatoes, or minced sweet potatoes...

When the yellow leaves began to fall and autumn arrived, grandma started to make sweet potato dumplings for sale. The snack was made from finely crushed or ground dried sliced ​​sweet potato starch.

Every morning, the fragrance from the sweet potato dumpling steamer invited me. Morning by morning, grandma never forgot to leave me some to eat before school.

Those rainy days when the chill wind swept through, holding a couple of hot sweet potato dumplings, feeling the warmth, and nibbling their scrumptious flavor were truly out of this world. Their velvety texture, the pleasant aroma of sweet potatoes combined with the sweet, starchy flavor of the fillings could easily tempt every palate.

The dumpling was simply made from sweet potato starch as the main ingredient, along with a little sesame or roasted peanuts mixed with white sugar for the fillings, followed by a few quick steps.

After mixing with water, the dough is then carefully kneaded. Roll the dough into balls, press flat to add fillings in the middle, then shape them into small rolls. The dumplings are then wrapped in a thin layer of banana leaf and steamed in the steamer basket for about 20 minutes, so they’re fully and evenly cooked with such an aromatic smell. 

Back in my hometown, steamed sweet potato dumpling is a popular snack when the rainy season approaches: a frugal yet distinctly appealing treat often sold in the rural morning market.

With popular ingredients and pretty simple preparation, the dumplings are a common afternoon homemade snack by moms and grandmas in the neighborhood on relaxing afternoon breaks.

In the finely drizzling rains, we sit to overhear the colorful stories of moms and maids while nibbling hot dumplings and feeling their pleasant aroma, the sweet, starchy flavor of sweet potato, the greasy taste of sugar mingled with the fragrant smell of roasted peanuts. The round, small, steamed sweet potato dumplings with their sweet pervasive aroma are not only an inviting dish of the chilly season, but also reminiscences of our unforgettable childhood memories.

Though steamed sweet potato dumplings aren’t widely known, those who once try the specialty can hardly forget their originally delicious flavor nor resist the temptations to have more.

Story and photo: Thao Vy