May 7, 2014
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!
Handful of green beans (this is all I had for greens in my fridge. I usually prefer broccoli or bok choy)
Rayu (chili sesame oil)
Garlic or ginger (or both!)
Optional and addicting: taberu rayu (chili sesame oil with garlic bits)
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.
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).