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Kikujiro

Frozen dim sum

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Today, I picked up, experimentally, some frozen prawn and chive dumplings from a supermarket in Chinatown. They were made by Royal Gourmet, a brand that turns out to be a subsidiary of the Royal China restaurant group. The packet listed no ingredients (fairly sure that's illegal; there was a space for them so maybe a glitch) and had no cooking instructions. Another packet of frozen dim sum I looked at said to steam for 15 mins, so I tried that with half the dumplings. They disintegrated.

The other half I steamed for half the time. They tasted fine, and if I'm still posting tomorrow evening I guess the food poisoning wasn't too severe.

Any tips on how to judge this kind of thing, though, in the absence of directions?

Quality-wise, they were just okay.

(I note I'd be unlikely to buy equivalent frozen versions of Western dishes. Strange.)


Edited by Kikujiro (log)

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Here in NYC's Chinatown, there are zillions of varieties of frozen dumplings, shui mai, etc. etc. available, mostly made locally. Not all have cooking (heating?) instructions -- although they do usually list ingredients, even though I'm not sure I trust the lists. :wink: When there are no instructions, I too just wing it -- stick them in the steamer and check every few minutes. I also usually put waxed paper on the steamer thing with the holes (sorry, lots of aperitifs and 1/2 bottle wine with dinner :blush:) before I put any food in. Kind of the equivalent of the cabbage leaves in restaurants. Does this make sense?

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In light of the other thread somewhere on waxed paper, I'd say parchment might make more sense. On the other hand, I'm assured that the wax used is food grade and tasteless. I've often just oiled the stainless steel steamer bottom. On the other hand, I mostly just boil the dumplings I buy.

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(I note I'd be unlikely to buy equivalent frozen versions of Western dishes. Strange.)

I was about to echo your thought. Frozen dumplings, usually from our regular butcher in NY's Chinatown are almost a staple in my freezer, although we buy very few frozen products and don't much use the our freezer. I stopped long enough to realize that frozen fresh raviloli or tortellini are something else we do keep in the freezer even if we buy it fresh rather than frozen. That is a western equivalent.

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Bux -- I grew up using waxed paper (Cut-Rite), so that's what I'm used to. It's not like the old waxed milk cartons that used to shed chunks of the stuff, after all. But I'll try parchment sometime. I'm not crazy about using oil, though.

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How do you judge it? Without cutting into the dumplings and seeing how hot the filling is? Or is that the procedure -- sacrifice a har gau or two?

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Bux -- I grew up using waxed paper (Cut-Rite), so that's what I'm used to.  It's not like the old waxed milk cartons that used to shed chunks of the stuff, after all.  But I'll try parchment sometime.  I'm not crazy about using oil, though.

I also grew up using waxed paper and my wife and I used waxed paper in the oven and on the range all the time. One day, not all that many years ago, a friend asked if we weren't concerned about the wax melting into the food. I never really thought there was wax in waxed paper, but there is and it isn't just one of those misnomers. Anyway, I found the experiments carried out by a couple of members and reported here, most interesting although we had already restricted our use to cold foods. I suspect there's little of no hard to come from eating the wax, but even if I can't taste it, it seems unpleasant.

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How do you judge it? Without cutting into the dumplings and seeing how hot the filling is? Or is that the procedure -- sacrifice a har gau or two?

Tasting is a procedure and one that reaps benefits for the cook. :biggrin: After a while I think you develop a sense of how long any brand takes to cook. On the whole, I'm more worried about over cooking the wrappers than I am about the filling being hot. Starting out with frozen dumplings can be tricky that way.

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Hullo mate

saw the royal garden ones on a scouting trip to loon fung - for the shu mai it was four mins in a microwave plus a minute to rest (from frozen)

certainly looking interesting - have always been a bit lary of frozen dumplings on quality grounds but may be tempted to try them. Interstingly they were about twice the price of the normal brand ones. Are we paying for quality or name I wonder?

J

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Jon,

Do you make 'em or not eat dumplings at home?

A microwave?

Based on quality of sample, I'm guessing we're paying for brand. But maybe that's optimistic; haven't tried other brands ...

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Jon,

Do you make 'em or not eat dumplings at home?

A microwave?

Based on quality of sample, I'm guessing we're paying for brand. But maybe that's optimistic; haven't tried other brands ...

Only jiaozi (which the Japanese stole, grilled and served up as gyoza - they're not generally that bright, you know). Excellent made with pork and jiu cai (chinese chives)

made baozi (steamed buns) a while ago, but mum did most of the work

propah dim sum too fiddly to do at home - generally you need a black belt in rice flour wrappers, three years study in a remote monestary attached to a floating restaurant &tc &tc to do it properly

well the microwave seemed a good idea at the time

cheerio

J

edit: inspired by all this malarky just steamed a packet of no-name shao mai from the chinese supermarket in brixton - ok moistness but a bit lacking on the flavour/salting front (think cuz too much flour, no prawn, too much fat and gristle making up the weight). definitely a step behind restaurant ones


Edited by Jon Tseng (log)

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FG was threatening to create a thread on reheating dumplings. Dumplings have never survived long enough in my house for the issue of reheating to arise, so I thought I would add to K's old dim sum thread instead. Here are related bits from the 'Most Popular Chinese Dishes' thread - if I got the quote thing right.

V:

Which leads me to another guilty secret - I've had an addiction to potsticker dumplings bought frozen by the kilo bag for a few years now. I have a strange method of cooking them from frozen in an 8 inch frying pan, nearly covered in water, turning over once and back during the boiling stage, and letting the water boil off till they fry. Makes a horrible mess so you need one of those splatter guard things at the end. I'm sure there are more sensible methods like boiling them, then transferring to a wok to fry, but I just got in the habit of the other way.

FG:

That's exactly the process I use, but I don't use a frying pan -- I use a small stockpot. The bottom of my small stockpot is about the same in diameter as the bottom of an 8"-10" frying pan. But the high walls of the stockpot act as a built-in splatter guard.

K:

I boil and then fry in a different pan. Your method sounds more glamorous.

Unconvinced by K's assertion of the potential glamour, as opposed to unholy mess, of my method of cooking potstickers, I tried the other method last night: boiled in a pan of water then fried in the wok. Definitely less messy, apart from that moment when the dumplings are added to the wok with an almighty splatter. Altogether quicker and tidier but I'm not convinced by the results - elegant but a little anodyne. When using the wok I am unable to refrain from stir-frying out of sheer habit which means the dumplings got fried lightly all over. My wok is well-loved and old, so the dumplings don't stick at all. However, what I love about potstickers is the fact that on one side they are soft, and on the other they are crisp - almost burnt. My frying pan method often means they get stuck to the bottom of the pan and are damaged when I try to get them out - but that's part of the charm.

Next time I'll try FG's way - in a deep pan.

v

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V, when frying them, I used a flat pan, not a wok, and having browned them very lightly on the other sides I leave them sitting on their bottoms until I think the latter have crisped up sufficiently. However, I still think yours sounds better. My concern is -- how do you control timing if you let the water boil away? Mine are only boiled 5 mins from frozen before I fry them. Also, do you use any oil?

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I don't control timing. They end up slightly overcooked, for which the crisping on one side compensates. But I do the boiling with the gas turned high so the water boils off asap. Also sometimes I ladle off a bit of the liquid if I feel it isn't going down fast enough. I add oil with the water at the beginning. If the frying pan is being cooperative, then there is a precious window of a few seconds when the bottom of the dumplings are thoroughly crisply fried and they come away from the surface of the pan before burning/sticking again. That is when they are ready.

v

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I don't control timing.  They end up slightly overcooked, for which the crisping on one side compensates.  But I do the boiling with the gas turned high so the water boils off asap.  Also sometimes I ladle off a bit of the liquid if I feel it isn't going down fast enough.  I add oil with the water at the beginning.  If the frying pan is being cooperative, then there is a precious window of a few seconds when the bottom of the dumplings are thoroughly crisply fried and they come away from the surface of the pan before burning/sticking again.  That is when they are ready.

v

CLARIFYING THE TECHNIQUE FOR PAN-FRYING DUMPLINGS

1) Use a well seasoned pan. I like to use a black cast iron skillet that is extremely well seasoned, but a non stick pan works perfectly (better).

2) Pre-heat the pan and add a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil. Put the dumplings in flat side down, and cook for about a minute until the bottoms just start to color lightly.

3) Next add about 1/2 cup of water, raise the heat and cover the pan. Continue cooking, covered the whole time, until most of the water is absorbed and the dumpling filling is almost cooked through. This should take 3-4 minutes if the meat is at room temperature when you start, or a couple of minutes longer if it is frozen.

4) Uncover the pan, let all the water evaporate, add another tablespoon of oil (if necessary) and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes until the dumpling bottoms are well crusted. Serve.

*If the filling is overcooked then you have let them cook covered for too long.

*Conversely if the filling undercooked that they haven't been covered long enough.

*You are really steaming (not boiling) the dumplings, then frying their bottoms crisp.

* If the water doesn't evaporate quickly enough you have used too much.

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Ouch! Wrist feeling slapped.

A few clarifications on my part: When I said 'slightly overcooked' I was not referring to the filling (which is always fine) but to the fact that the skin comes up a bit softer than if you simply boil then fry in another pan. I do use a well-seasoned cast iron pan as per Eddie. Interesting the point about using less water and steaming - I will try that next time although the frying then steaming then frying again seems a bit odd to me, particularly from frozen.

v

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Ouch!  Wrist feeling slapped.

No wrist (or any place else) slapping.

Just noticed a lot of discussion over a long period of time and I thought that a clear statement of the classical technique would be helpful. Clarification!

By frying the bottoms before you add the water you promote an extra crisp crust during the second frying. Try it, it's a fun trick that works well.

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Ed, great. That's exactly how I've been shown to do it.

In Ottawa's Chinatown there's a great litle place called Yen Fung Ding that also calls itself "The Dumpling Shoppe." They make and sell frozen dumplings to the various stores and restaurants.

While I'll usually make my own dumplings or wonton, I always have several bags of frozen on hand for snacks or quick decisions.

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Just noticed a lot of discussion over a long period of time and I thought that a clear statement of the classical technique would be helpful. Clarification!

By frying the bottoms before you add the water you promote an extra crisp crust during the second frying. Try it, it's a fun trick that works well.

Thanks, Eddie. This is the method I learned many years ago in Taiwan.

I also learned that you don't just plop the dumplings in the pan; you start at the center and arrange them concentrically, and sort of tight together, so that when they are done, you can invert them on a place (and they are all stuck together) and have a nice, pretty pattern.

When I make them, I made tons of them and freeze them. I've found it's best if you cook them still slightly frozen.

And, for further clarification, when I learned to make them, the filling is raw when you assemble the dumplings -- not cooked as I have seen in a few recipes.

Is there a prefered number of pleats on each side?

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Just noticed a lot of discussion over a long period of time and I thought that a clear statement of the classical technique would be helpful. Clarification!

By frying the bottoms before you add the water you promote an extra crisp crust during the second frying. Try it, it's a fun trick that works well.

Thanks, Eddie. This is the method I learned many years ago in Taiwan.

I also learned that you don't just plop the dumplings in the pan; you start at the center and arrange them concentrically, and sort of tight together, so that when they are done, you can invert them on a place (and they are all stuck together) and have a nice, pretty pattern.

When I make them, I made tons of them and freeze them. I've found it's best if you cook them still slightly frozen.

And, for further clarification, when I learned to make them, the filling is raw when you assemble the dumplings -- not cooked as I have seen in a few recipes.

Is there a prefered number of pleats on each side?

Yes, that's how I remember it - sticking them in a ring and browning underneath.

This method also works with little baozi made with a bread dough (like steamed buns) - so they rise a bit as they steam in the initial cooking

re pleats i only put in two but thats cuz i'm lazy. I think received wisdom is the more the better

J

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CLARIFYING THE TECHNIQUE FOR PAN-FRYING DUMPLINGS

Yes, this worked perfectly.

Ed and Vanessa, please let me know how you will be splitting the cost of my liposuction.

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