• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

  • product-image-quickten.png.a40203b506711f7664fc62024e54a584.pngDid you know that these all-volunteer forums are operated by the 501(c)3 not-for-profit Society for Culinary Arts & Letters? This holiday season, consider a tax-deductible Quick Ten Bucks to support the eG Forums and help us remain completely advertising-free. Thanks to all those who have donated so far!

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Kikujiro

Frozen dim sum

23 posts in this topic

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)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(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.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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 ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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)

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hope you noted my earlier remarks about splattering :smile: . Good luck.

v

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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.


"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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?


Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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


More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
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.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Similar Content

    • By liuzhou
      Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China, where I live, is sugar central for the country. Over two-thirds of China's output of sugar is grown right here, making it one of the largest sugar production areas on the planet. I have a second home in the countryside and it is surrounded by sugar cane fields.

      Much of this is produced by small time farmers, although huge Chinese and international companies have also moved in.
       
      Also, sugar is used extensively in Chinese cooking, not only as a sweetener, but more as a spice. A little added to a savoury dish can bring out otherwise hidden flavours. It also has medicinal attributes according to traditional Chinese medicine.
       
      Supermarkets have what was to me, on first sight, a huge range of sugars, some almost unrecognisable. Here is a brief introduction to some of them. Most sugar is sold loose, although corner shops and mom 'n pop stores may have pre-packed bags. These are often labelled in English as "candy", the Chinese language not differentiating between "sugar" and "candy" - always a source of confusion. Both are 糖 (táng),

      IMPORTANT NOTE: The Chinese names given here and in the images are the names most used locally. They are all Mandarin Chinese, but it is still possible that other names may be used elsewhere in China. Certainly, non-Mandarin speaking areas will be different.

      By the far the simplest way to get your sugar ration is to buy the unprocessed sugar cane. This is not usually available in supermarkets but is a street vendor speciality. In the countryside, you can buy it at the roadside. There are also people in markets etc with portable juice extractors who will sell you a cup of pure sugar cane juice.


       
      I remember being baffled then amused when, soon after I first arrived in China, someone asked me if I wanted some 甘蔗 (gān zhè). It sounded exactly like 'ganja' or cannabis. No such luck! 甘蔗 (gān zhè) is 'sugar cane'.
       
      The most common sugar in the supermarkets seems to be 冰糖 (bīng táng) which literally means 'ice 'sugar' and is what we tend to call 'rock sugar' or 'crystal sugar'. This highly refined sugar comes in various lump sizes although the price remains the same no matter if the pieces are large or small. Around ¥7/500g. That pictured below features the smaller end of the range.


       
      Related to this is what is known as 冰片糖 (bīng piàn táng) which literally means "ice slice sugar". This is usually slightly less processed (although I have seen a white version, but not recently) and is usually a pale brown to yellow colour. This may be from unprocessed cane sugar extract, but is often white sugar coloured and flavoured with added molasses. It is also sometimes called 黄片糖  (huáng piàn táng) or "yellow slice sugar". ¥6.20/500g.
       


      A less refined, much darker version is known as 红片糖 (hóng piàn táng), literally 'red slice sugar'. (Chinese seems to classify colours differently - what we know as 'black tea' is 'red tea' here. ¥7.20/500g.


       
      Of course, what we probably think of as regular sugar, granulated sugar is also available. Known as 白砂糖 (bái shā táng), literally "white sand sugar', it is the cheapest at  ¥3.88/500g.



      A brown powdered sugar is also common, but again, in Chinese, it isn't brown. It's red and simply known as 红糖 (hóng táng). ¥7.70/500g


       
      Enough sweetness and light for now. More to come tomorrow.
    • By Dejah
      [Host's note: This topic forms part of an extended discussion which grew too large for our servers to handle efficiently.  The conversation continues from here.]
       
       
      Supper: Yeem Gok Gai:

      Mock Fried Rice - grated cauliflower

      Baby Shanghai Bok Choy and ginger

    • By liuzhou
      eG member @Carolyn Phillips has just published her ten-year-long-gestated Chinese cook book, All Under Heaven. 500 pages on China's 35 cuisines. Gathering rave reviews. I've ordered my copy. Can't wait.

      Simultaneously, her "Dim Sum Field Guide is published.
       
      She hasn't posted much here recently, but who would or could while writing two books at the same time - one of them a huge tome?

      Congratulations Carolyn.

       
    • By liuzhou
      A few weeks ago I bought a copy of this cookbook which is a best-selling spin off from the highly successful television series by China Central Television - A Bite of China as discussed on this thread.   .
       

       
      The book was published in August 2013 and is by Chen Zhitian (陈志田 - chén zhì tián). It is only available in Chinese (so far). 
       
      There are a number of books related to the television series but this is the only one which seems to be legitimate. It certainly has the high production standards of the television show. Beautifully photographed and with (relatively) clear details in the recipes.
       
      Here is a sample page.
       

       
      Unlike in most western cookbooks, recipes are not listed by main ingredient. They are set out in six vaguely defined chapters. So, if you are looking for a duck dish, for example, you'll have to go through the whole contents list. I've never seen an index in any Chinese book on any subject. 
       
      In order to demonstrate the breadth of recipes in the book and perhaps to be of interest to forum members who want to know what is in a popular Chinese recipe book, I have sort of translated the contents list - 187 recipes.
       
      This is always problematic. Very often Chinese dishes are very cryptically named. This list contains some literal translations. For some dishes I have totally ignored the given name and given a brief description instead. Any Chinese in the list refers to place names. Some dishes I have left with literal translations of their cryptic names, just for amusement value.
       
      I am not happy with some of the "translations" and will work on improving them. I am also certain there are errors in there, too.
       
      Back in 2008, the Chinese government issued a list of official dish translations for the Beijing Olympics. It is full of weird translations and total errors, too. Interestingly, few of the dishes in the book are on that list.
       
      Anyway, for what it is worth, the book's content list is here (Word document) or here (PDF file). If anyone is interested in more information on a dish, please ask. For copyright reasons, I can't reproduce the dishes here exactly, but can certainly describe them.
       
      Another problem is that many Chinese recipes are vague in the extreme. I'm not one to slavishly follow instructions, but saying "enough meat" in a recipe is not very helpful. This book gives details (by weight) for the main ingredients, but goes vague on most  condiments.
       
      For example, the first dish (Dezhou Braised Chicken), calls for precisely 1500g of chicken, 50g dried mushroom, 20g sliced ginger and 10g of scallion. It then lists cassia bark, caoguo, unspecified herbs, Chinese cardamom, fennel seed, star anise, salt, sodium bicarbonate and cooking wine without suggesting any quantities. It then goes back to ask for 35g of maltose syrup, a soupçon of cloves, and "the correct quantity" of soy sauce.
       
      Cooking instructions can be equally vague. "Cook until cooked".
       
      A Bite of China - 舌尖上的中国- ISBN 978-7-5113-3940-9 
    • By liuzhou
      Introduction
       
      I spent the weekend in western Hunan reuniting with 36 people I worked with for two years starting 20 years ago. All but one, 龙丽花 lóng lì huā, I hadn’t seen for 17 years.  I last saw her ten years ago. One other, 舒晶 shū jīng, with whom I have kept constant contact but not actually seen, helped me organise the visit in secret. No one else knew I was coming. In fact, I had told Long Lihua that I couldn’t come. Most didn’t even know I am still in China.
       
      I arrived at my local station around 00:20 in order to catch the 1:00 train northwards travelling overnight to Hunan, with an advertised arrival time of 9:15 am. Shu Jing was to meet me.
       
      When I arrived at the station, armed with my sleeper ticket, I found that the train was running 5 hours late! Station staff advised that I change my ticket for a different train, which I did. The problem was that there were no sleeper tickets available on the new train. All I could get was a seat. I had no choice, really. They refunded the difference and gave me my new ticket.
       
       

       

       
      The second train was only 1½ hours late, then I had a miserable night, unable to sleep and very uncomfortable. Somehow the train managed to make up for the late start and we arrived on time. I was met as planned and we hopped into a taxi to the hotel where I was to stay and where the reunion was to take place.
       
      They had set up a reception desk in the hotel lobby and around half of the people I had come to see were there. When I walked in there was this moment of confusion, stunned silence, then the friend I had lied to about not coming ran towards me and threw herself into my arms with tears running down her face and across her smile. It was the best welcome I’ve ever had. Then the others also welcomed me less physically, but no less warmly. They were around 20 years old when I met them; now they are verging on, or already are, 40, though few of them look it. Long Lihua is the one on the far right.
       

       
      Throughout the morning people arrived in trickles as their trains or buses got in from all over China. One woman had come all the way from the USA. We sat around chatting, reminiscing and eating water melon until finally it was time for lunch.
       

       
      Lunch we had in the hotel dining room. By that time, the group had swelled to enough to require three banqueting tables.
       
      Western Hunan, known as 湘西 xiāng xī, where I was and where I lived for two years - twenty years ago, is a wild mountainous area full of rivers. It was one of the last areas “liberated” by Mao’s communists and was largely lawless until relatively recently. It has spectacular scenery.
       
      Hunan is known for its spicy food, but Xiangxi is the hottest. I always know when I am back in Hunan. I just look out the train window and see every flat surface covered in chilis drying in the sun. Station platforms, school playgrounds, the main road from the village to the nearest town are all strewn with chillis.
       

       

       
      The people there consider Sichuan to be full of chilli wimps. I love it. When I left Hunan I missed the food so much. So I was looking forward to this. It did not disappoint.
       
      So Saturday lunch in next post.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.