Sisters Amy and Julie Zhang
have been entertaining and educating their thousands of followers
on YouTube with their recipes for deliciously easy homemade Chinese
food. Calling themselves The Dumpling Sisters, the duo are engaging
and charismatic cooks who have also referred to themselves as the
'young, Asian, and (much) less hairy Hairy Bikers'. Following up on
their online success, the sisters have published a cookbook, The Dumpling Sisters Cookbook: Over 100 Favourite
Recipes from a Chinese Family Kitchen, in which
the recipes are interspersed with
the insider tips and tricks that the girls' YouTube fans adore. (Enter our contest for your chance to win a
copy of the cookbook.) Amy and Julie took time out of their busy
schedules to answer our questions about their
You have an interesting culinary heritage - where were
you brought up and where do you live now?
We've been really lucky to be exposed to a bunch of different
cultures, which has in turn boosted our love and appreciation of
different cuisines. We grew up in New Zealand, so while we had
sandwiches and crisps in our packed lunches, we always ate Chinese
food at for dinner. Now we both live in London, which is a total
melting pot of cultures and cuisines. It's amazing - you can have
Korean one night and Ethiopian the next, all down the same
At what age did you start cooking? Do you remember the
first thing you made?
We started pretty young, as we worked alongside our parents in
the family food cart. For nearly 25 years our parents have been
setting up shop at a big market in Christchurch, and they're still
going today! One of the first things we were responsible for was
making wontons. Dad's recipe for the filling was really simple to
make, and our little fingers were good at peeling apart the sheets
of wonton pastry.
Are you both engaged full time in your culinary careers
or do you have other jobs?
At the moment we're both working on other things alongside The
Dumpling Sisters. Amy works in healthcare advertising, and Julie's
currently a policy intern at the Department for Environment, Food
and Rural Affairs.
What prompted you to start your YouTube
When we first started this project, we had aspirations to open a
cool Chinese eatery in London. But we also knew that we needed
investment to do this, as starting a food business is hugely
expensive! We thought that being on YouTube would be a good way to
raise our profile and to show potential investors what we could do.
What we've found is that YouTube has connected us with loads more
people that we could have imagined - not necessarily investors, but
fellow food lovers and keen home cooks. YouTube is great, because
it empowers ordinary people like us to tap into audiences that
would otherwise be out of reach. It has been a terrific platform
for us to share something we feel so passionately about, in such a
How did you get involved with 'Jamie Oliver's Search for
a Food Tube Star' and how did you do?
We saw the competition advertised on YouTube, and knew
immediately that we wanted to give it a go. Because the competition
was sponsored by Uncle Ben's, the only brief was that the video
recipe entry should contain rice in some form. Being Chinese and
serious rice lovers, we had loads of ideas before settling on a
version of fried rice lettuce parcels that mum used to make for us
when we were growing up. We ended up coming second in the
competition from a pool of over 250 entries worldwide, which we
were really pleased about!
How do you split your roles when developing recipes and
filming your videos?
We don't really have set roles - we both do everything! So we
develop half of the recipes each, and take it in turns to edit our
videos. When it comes to filming the videos, one of us will start
with slicing and marinating the meat, then in the next shot the
other person will be prepping the veg. It's just straightforward
alternating so that people don't get tired of seeing one person's
Do you each have a favorite recipe from the
Julie loves anything porky, so Crispy Five Spiced Pork Belly and
Lacquered Honey Hoisin Pork Spare Ribs are high on her list. Amy,
on the other hand, is a chicken fan, so her favourites include a
silky Fragrant Steamed Chicken and a Potato and Chicken Curry.
What Chinese ingredients do you recommend for a more
authentic taste for Chinese dishes? And where do you buy your
We have a nifty little feature in our book called 'Add an
Exotic'. We selected ten ingredients that people may not be very
familiar with, but that we think can really elevate certain dishes
because they add a new flavor or texture. This includes things like
salted fish, fermented tofu (way better than it sounds!) and wood
ear mushrooms. For most of our recipes, you can get everything you
need at an ordinary supermarket. But for exotics and great deals on
things like rice and fresh veg, we hit up our favourite Chinese
supermarkets and street markets, such as the one in Brixton.
Photo of Mum's
cracking five-spiced roast pork belly from The Dumpling Sisters Cookbook: Over 100 Favourite
Recipes from a Chinese Family Kitchen