Homemade dumplings are a dish I love to eat, but I rarely have the time to make them myself. So when I came across Dumplinlins on Instagram, I was immediately intrigued.
A one-woman business hand-making dumplings using ingredients from the farmers markets and freezing them for people to cook at home: what’s not to love?
As well as delivering cook-at-home dumpling packs, Linlin Kearny — the aforementioned one woman — also runs a weekly lunchtime pop-up at Nourish and Breathe in the ultra-hip Dairy Rd Precinct, so I slid into her DMs and organised to drop in one Wednesday to chat about all things dumplings.
Linlin grew up in Canberra but moved to Sydney to train and work as a naturopath. The start of 2020 saw her back home, and when COVID-19 hit, she found herself cooking dishes from her childhood for comfort.
“It helped me to connect to my Chinese-Thai heritage: it’s part of my identity,” she says.
Cooking meals for herself became dinner for friends which then turned into a semi-regular ‘supper club’. A visit to Nourish and Breathe to inquire about renting a space to practice naturopathy became an unexpected opportunity to host pop-up dumpling lunches. One day, a few people asked if they could take some dumplings to cook at home.
“It just took on a life of its own!” she says.
“All my plans for what I thought I might do have gone out the window, and this just happened organically.”
Going from a career in naturopathy to a side-hustle as a dumpling maker may seem like a strange transition — dumplings aren’t exactly known as a health food — but Linlin has made her peace with it. Her dumplings are homemade, nourishing, and made with fresh ingredients sourced from the farmers market, so they’re really not all that unhealthy.
“Everything in moderation!” she says with a laugh.
It’s been a challenge to balance dumpling-making with work and study commitments, but Linlin still makes everything from scratch, even the dumpling wrappers, and has no intentions of slowing down.
Over the last year, she’s improved from only five or six folds per dumpling to being on par with the pros at 18 folds per dumpling! I ask if she finds it repetitive, but she says it’s actually very meditative. She’s planning to expand into her own commercial space, and while she’s keen to keep serving lunches occasionally, she still sees the DIY frozen dumpling packs as her main product in the current covid climate.
“We’re homebodies now. There’s a shift of people wanting to cook more from home.”
After our chat, I pick up a few packs of dumplings to take home and try for myself. I choose one pack each of Classic Vegan, Prawn & Leek and Pork Shumai. A small container of soy and black vinegar dipping sauce is included. I invite a friend over for lunch and we give them a go!
The cooking instructions on the boxes are clear and easy to follow.
After adding the dumplings to a hot frying pan, we are instructed to swirl the pan to create an even, crispy bottom. It’s a good tip, and when the dumplings are ready, they have a beautiful golden colour underneath. The crunch on the base is extremely satisfying and the rest of the wrapper is perfectly silky.
The classic vegan dumplings are full of flavour thanks to a generous amount of meaty shitake mushrooms, which have a lovely texture. The prawn & leek is also tasty, with the leek giving a nice sweet contrast to the salty dipping sauce.
Two packs of 12 is a good amount for our lunch, alongside a bowl of steamed bok choy. For a larger meal, I would also include steamed rice or have the dumplings as an entree for a stir fry dish.
The Pork Shumai dumplings are different from the others, with an open top and they need to be steamed. I have those for dinner on a night when I’m feeling under the weather, and they’re perfect.
It was so nice to have something handmade and comforting, without the hassle of doing lots of work or leaving my house. It even felt a little bit fancy and was a good excuse to get out my neglected bamboo steamer! The pork was really well seasoned and each mouthful was nourishing.
Dumplinlins delivers in Canberra, and there’s a subscription service so you can get dumplings delivered to your door weekly, fortnightly, or once a month! In a year and a bit of uncertainty, it’s nice to know you have a freezer full of delicious dumplings.
Dumplinlins has a regular lunchtime pop-up every Wednesday at Nourish and Breathe, Studio 7, building 3.3, 1 Dairy Rd Fyshwick. For frozen dumpling packs, visit @_dumplinlins_ on Instagram or email email@example.com.