Earth people have been making dumplings for as long as they have been growing food. They didn’t have steam ovens, blenders, or garlic presses, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take advantage of what you’ve got.

Here is a list of stuff that could make your dumpling life easier.

Mortar and Pestle

Get super-authentic if you like and import a Molcajete to grind up your pumpkin seeds for your tamal dough. But a ceramic one ought to do OK as well. Our mole and tamales instructor Enrique at Cookin’ Vallarta says that yeah, you could use modern electric kitchen appliances to do your grinding and mashing and kneading and stuff. But those devices eliminate a subtle ingredient from the entire process: time. That time is an often under-appreciated element in modern cooking.


Steam Chamber Cooker Thingie

Our landlady equipped the kitchen in the house we rent with a device whose proper English name we don’t know. It’s a built-in Dampfgarer (“steam cooker?”) about the size of a microwave oven. You fill a reservoir with water and it heats up that water and distributes the steam throughout the chamber. Mostly we use it for steaming vegetables or giving bread dough a warm, moist place to rise.

It’s not to be confused with a steam oven, though. Its maximum temperature is 100 °C, and from what we’ve read, a steam oven is more like a traditional oven but with the ability to apply jets of steam to the contents while baking at normal baking temperatures. Probably baguette-bakers need this the most.

We plan on using ours for tamales in the near future.

Steamer Basket


It’s one of those stainless steel flower-shaped things, adaptable to various sizes of stovetop pots and pans which you can use to keep your broccoli from getting too squishy. The feet hold the to-be-steamed goods up out of the water in the pan…unless you overfill it, of course.


Char siu baoBamboo! We saw these all over Hong Kong and Singapore. Do they have to rest over a pot of boiling water or something?

Rice-Cooker with Steamer area

Our rice cooker came with a plastic basket that sits above the rice-cooking area. That’s energy efficient; if you’re using it to cook rice, you might as well steam some vegetables or some dumplings at the same time.

Or, just steam-fry

If they’re supposed to be crispy anyways, you could just fry them in the pan and add water, trapping the steam inside the pan with the lid.

Ravioli Mold

Do you have a Kitchen Aid stand mixer? There’s a ravioli attachment for it. That might be overkill, though. Several kinds of ravioli molds are commonly available:

  • Clam-shell
  • Roll-over

We have one of the roll-over kinds. It works OK.

  1. Roll out some pasta dough.
  2. Press it into the bottom of the mold.
  3. Put the filling into the indentations.
  4. Place another sheet of rolled-out pasta dough over the filled indentations.
  5. Use a rolling pin to press the top layer down onto the bottom layer and cut the squares out.

Rolling Pin

On-the-go? Try a wine bottle instead in a pinch.