12 February 2024

Meet the dumpling master at Tiger Lane

| Laura Liu
chef at window of golden panda restaurant

Chef Hong, the dumpling master, has made millions of dumplings in his career. Photo: Region.

They say it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, so if you made 1000 dumplings a week for 20 years you would surely earn the title of dumpling master.

Doing the maths, that’s over one million dumplings and that is also about the number of dumplings crafted by a Canberra chef since his very first days.

Chef Kian Hong Hoe, now at Golden Panda and Mrs Wang in Tiger Lane, has rolled, folded and perfected more than a million dumplings over two decades, starting from when he was just 18-years-old.

“I won’t tell the exact number – it’s really hard,” he said. “But I can tell … probably 1000 dumplings per week.”

These days his delicious dumplings are highly sought-after but, reflecting on his early encounters with Dim Sum, Chef Hong said he didn’t even know what it was until he went out with friends.

The variety, the delicate craftsmanship, and the balance of sweet and savoury sparked his interest in dumplings.

Throughout his dumpling-making career, Chef Hong has sculpted dumplings into various playful forms, from rabbit shapes to hedgehog designs.

One of the most interesting achievements of his life was the creation of goldfish dumplings. These dumplings were decorated with alternating white and red scales that shimmered with a subtle golden hue. When nestled in Chef Hong’s specially curated broth, they look like real goldfish swimming in the water.

“You need to prepare the colours and blend them with the white dough to achieve a natural appearance,” Chef Hong explained.

“Using a mould, I press the dough into the shape of fish scales, fill it with the desired stuffing, and carefully shape it into a fish. Then you need to meticulously craft the eyes, mouth, and fins.”

“There is no special requirements for the fillings – I’ve made them with spinach, but mushrooms would work too.”

When asked about his best-selling creation, Chef Hong revealed that the deep-fried dumpling with Sichuan sauce takes the crown. It’s a delightful combination of sweet and savoury, with a crispy exterior and juicy interior, complemented by a drizzle of chilli sauce.

“You’ve got to make a dough, wrap in vegetables, steam it, then deep fry to make the surface crispy, while keeping the inside still juicy,” he said.

“Then put some chilli sauce on the top.

“You will taste the different layers.”

READ ALSO Canberra’s Ebony May taking TikTok by storm one cupcake at a time

Golden Panda and Mrs Wang’s menu offers a range of dumplings, from the crunchy deep-fried variety to the classic crystal prawn dumpling.

Enhancing the culinary experience are the revered soup dumplings, also known as “xiaolongbao” in Chinese.

The magic lies in the flavourful broth sealed within the special dumplings. Crafted from collagen-rich tissues like beef tendons, pork rind, or chicken, the broth is prepared in advance, chilled to a jelly-like consistency, and carefully blended into the filling during the crafting of soup dumplings.

“This adds an extra layer to the texture, creating a delightful burst of soup as you bite into it,” he said.

READ ALSO Where are the cheapest veggies in Canberra?

Diverging from the wheat starch used in the classic crystal prawn dumplings, the dough for soup dumplings is made from flour.

“Therefore, the longer the soup dumpling dough is left, the softer it becomes, making it easier for dumpling making,” Chef Hong said.

For those inspired to try their hand and make dumplings at home, Chef Hoe give some straightforward advice.

“Start simple. Don’t attempt too complicated shapes, and be patient. Watch and stop,” he said.

“Every single one deserves your time.”

Golden Panda and Mrs Wang are located in Tiger Lane at the Canberra Centre, 148 Bunda Street, City. Most of the street food stalls in Tiger Lane are open seven days a week from 11:30 am until late. Follow Tiger Lane on Facebook or Instagram to explore more.

Original Article published by Laura Liu on Riotact.


Weekly Wrap

Canberra is renowned for its restaurants, bars, arts and culture. If you want to know what's going on in and around the nation's capital, sign up for our weekly newsletter and have all the best of the Canberra community delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.