May 7, 2014

Lazyass Cookin’: How to Boil a Dumpling

by Kayoko Akabori

Have I seriously never posted anything about frozen dumplings? That’s crazy! Frozen dumplings have been my #1 go-to lazyass meal for years now. I used to buy the bags in the frozen food aisle at Chinese super markets, with their bright color-coded bags for bitter melon or chive and shrimp varieties (usually made in Thailand). They are so satisfying and cheap! But at some point, I had an A-HA moment and started buying them from actual Chinese restaurants, that advertised that they sold their pride-filled, house-made dumplings, frozen, by the bagful.

In NYC, I used to get the frozen dumplings (aka dumps) at Good Dumpling House on Grand Street in the Lower East Side, which has since closed its doors. Sad. I live in Oakland now, and I’ve been on the search for the town’s best frozen dumps, a necessary staple in my freezer. Shan Dong’s is good, but these days, I stick to the frozen dumplings from Tian Jin and Shanghai Restaurant, both featured in our Oakland Chinatown Map.


These are soup dumplings from Shanghai Restaurant that Yoko bought me. They are SO good.

I’m not sure what I love more about frozen dumplings: how fast they are to make, or how delicious they are to eat. Both! The combo of ease and taste are mucho important for any lazyass cook. I mean, we may be lazy, but we only eat the best, right??!?

Today let me show you how I usually prepare frozen dumplings. You can of course steam or grill them, or put them in soups, but I usually just boil the dumps with a green vegetable and pour sauce all over them. Yumzers!

RECIPE
8 dumps
Handful of green beans (this is all I had for greens in my fridge. I usually prefer broccoli or bok choy)

Sauce
Soy sauce
Vinegar
Rayu (chili sesame oil)
Garlic or ginger (or both!)
Optional and addicting: taberu rayu (chili sesame oil with garlic bits)

METHOD

Boil water on the stove. Add your greens and blanch.

LAZYASS COOKIN’ TIP!: Boil your vegetables then take it out with a sieve or chopsticks, instead of dumping the water into the sink. We’re in a drought! But more importantly, we are lazy. Who has time to wait for water to boil all over again? Once all the greens are out of the pot, add the dumps.

(It is important to boil the greens first, then the dumplings cause the water gets too gelatinous once the dumplings are done).

Johnny LOVES frozen dumplings from Chinatown as much as I do, and he’ll eat about 20 at a time. Seriously. These chive and pork dumps are from Tian Jin, who sell 50 dumplings for under $20. Super deal.

Not only that, they give you this slip of paper telling you exactly HOW TO COOK FROZEN DUMPLINGS:

No joke, this has changed my life. In my 10+ years of boiling dumplings, I never knew exactly how to tell if they were done. Some people told me to wait until they floated, others told me to keep adding cold water. Wha?!?

These are the instructions by Tian Jin on How to Cook Frozen Dumplings:

You’ll need a good size pot, the kind you would use to boil pasta. This way your dumplings won’t be too crowded in the boiling process.

1. Add water to pot till it’s half full, bring to a boil on high heat, and then add the dumplings. Do not defrost.

2. Immediately stir the dumplings, so they don’t stick to the bottom. The heat stays on high throughout.

3. Once the water is boiling again, add 1.5 cups of cold water, bring it to a boil.

4. Add another 1.5 cup of cold water, bring  it to a boil. your dumpling is perfectly boiled now.

Genius. Thank you Tian Jin!

Now, while you are meticulously following these directions and waiting for these dumps to boil (it’s a lot of steps, I know), make your sauce. I kinda slop a lot of different condiments together, like vinegar (you can use rice vinegar, I went fancy here and got the Camino red wine vinegar), soy sauce, taberu rayu (garlic chili oil) and rayu (chili sesame oil). I also like to grate garlic or ginger into this.

I add about a teaspoon each of all condiments. Adjust to your liking.

Back to the dumplings! Once you’ve added all those cups of water and waited patiently for the dumplings to finish boiling, you can go ahead and take them out of the water.

Pour dumplings into the sauce.

Add your greens into the same bowl.

Stir! But be gentle cause you don’t want to break the dumps. That would be sad.

Make sure you get a light, even coat of sauce.

Serve:

Enjoy with a glass of shochu and some TV:

Boardwalk Empire or Game of Thrones complete this Lazyass evening. And yes, I serve the meal in a Pyrex bowl (thanks, MOTO).

7 Comments

  • Eric M
    Posted May 13, 2014 at 2:01 am

    Yo much love to Umami Mart and this blog! You guys are my favorite and I enjoy every post that pops up in my reader. BUT. It’s hella nasty to call dumplings DUMPS, and that’s not how you’re supposed to eat chinese dumplings!

    I mean, you can eat them however you like, whatever floats your boat, but since this blog does such a great job presenting japanese dishes the way they are actually eaten in japan I figure you may as well do the same for Chinese cooking.

    instead of mixing the dumplings up with a bunch of greens, make the dumplings the same way you made them this time (or if you like, take them from the freezer and put them directly into a pan w/ a thin layer of oil, add a cup or so of water and cover–when the water is gone, let them crisp up and you have perfect guo tie/potstickers.)

    Once you have your dumplings, pour a small amount of Chinkiang vinegar (comes in a yellow bottle, very pungent chinese rice vinegar) and if you like, add some chili oil to the vinegar. Now dip each dumpling in the vinegar as you eat. Prepare any greens you like separately, and eat them w/ the dumplings as a refreshing side.

  • Kayoko
    Posted May 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    Thanks Eric for reading.

    I appreciate your purist ways, as I too can be a purist (especially about pizza). But I also think it’s culturally arrogant to think there is only one way to eat/make certain dishes. This is simply my interpretation of how to eat boiled dumplings. It’s nice that you think we do a “great job presenting japanese dishes” but is that because you are assuming that the recipes/methods are culturally accurate, because we are Japanese? We are constantly making up shortcuts on this blog and eating our Japanese meals in sacrilegious ways; just as the way I boil my dumplings with greens may seem sacrilegious to you.

    All in all, I love making this dish, and if I ever felt UNLAZY, I will prepare my greens separately, and dunk them into a separate dish of vinegar/soy/chili oil. Thanks for your comment.

  • Yoko
    Posted May 13, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    I mix my curry up at home. (Don’t tell anyone)

  • Posted May 15, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    We had these for dinner last night- thanks for the rec! Deeelicious!

  • pachinko
    Posted May 15, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    @Eric LOL honey, imagine you’re a student, living in a room about size of a shit hole and your only saviour is a microwave and you can’t cook to save your ass , you will be more grateful of how to make things easier aka no fuss, no muss, which in this case has been perfectly done by kayako.

  • johnny
    Posted May 20, 2014 at 11:25 am

    20 dumps? Sounds like prophecy.

  • CABS
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    DUMPS!

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