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Dumplings/Potstickers/etc. in Stores


LizD518
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Why are Asian dumplings not available in regular grocery stores? Well that isn't strictly true...in my local Stop in Shop I saw a small package of maybe 10 pieces. But go to an Asian market and there are tons of varieties, usually in bags of 30-50 I think. It's not like dumplings are "out there" as far as Asian food goes. And they are easy to prepare and certainly not expensive. So why haven't they made the leap?

I'm mostly frustrated because I just moved to an area where the closest Asian food market seems to be an hour away. I'm realizing how spoiled I was to have access to not only good Asian, Indian and Mexican restaurants, but also markets in my previous hometown. I can make dumplings, along with all the other specialties I want, but it's going to take a lot more planning just to get the ingredients. :(

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Oh I know what you mean and commiserate, Liz - although I am surprised you have this problem in Delaware.

When I am in Nova Scotia (which is most of the time), I live about a 1000 miles from the closest decent Asian market I know of, and almost 300 from a teensy tiny Asian grocery store that doesn't really stock much frozen stuff like dumplings. Likewise for any decent ethnic restaurants.

I am making my own now - of necessity - and occasionally curse myself for not thinking about this very problem before I bought that NS house. I load up on specialized ingredients when I travel. I have managed to bring home fresh lemongrass and lotus root, various kinds of mushrooms, vinegars of all types, hoisin, sherries, etc. Luckily, most dumplings are actually not that difficult to make as you said and the ingredients are relatively simple in most cases - pork, shrimp, chicken, green onions, bok choy, and wrappers can be more readily had for me though even those too usually take a 70 mile each way trip.

In my case, I guess most people are really stuck in their 'traditional' food ruts and there are few Asians living in my area so they don't demand it I guess. Or perhaps they too make their own.

When I am up north though, I do miss the small Asian grocery I have near me in NC which sells many different kinds of pre-made frozen dumplings. However even that store is a relatively new development. The east coast is definitely not like the west when it comes to the availability of all things Asian.

Edited by Deryn (log)
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That's a great question,Liz. The bags of frozen dumplings at Costco are junk. I don't get why they aren't everywhere you can find crappy frozen pizza rolls.

I have managed to bring home fresh lemongrass and lotus root, various kinds of mushrooms, vinegars of all types, hoisin, sherries, etc. Luckily, most dumplings are actually not that difficult to make as you said and the ingredients are relatively simple in most cases - pork, shrimp, chicken, green onions, bok choy, and wrappers can be more readily had for me though even those too usually take a 70 mile each way trip.In my case, I guess most people are really stuck in their 'traditional' food ruts and there are few Asians living in my area so they don't demand it I guess. Or perhaps they too make their own.

Most of the dumplings in supermarkets in China are junk, too. Most people make their own. As Deryn says, they dont use many ingredients. Pork, greenery of some kind, mushrooms. Less often, shrimp.

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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Thats exactly what I do. The gyoza wrappers are surprisingly hard to find reliably around here in supermarkets and egg roll wrappers or won ton wrappers aren't quite the same to me...an issue of thickness I think

Edited by gfweb (log)
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The rolling is my downfall and a pasta machine doesn't quite get the job done

No. A pasta machine can't do the job. They just make everything flat. Depending on what you are going to use them for, wrappers are seldom flat.

For example, for 'soup dumplings', you want wrappers which are a bit thicker in the centre than at the edges.

As I said, practice.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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The making of  gyoza is more than for eating.

It is very much a family bonding thing. Children really enjoy participation. Everyone will have a hilarious time of all those misshapen ones.

 

dcarch 

 

My OCD allows no mutant dumplings.

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Now you have made me hungry for dumplings.

Me too.

And it got me thinking that I need to make a whole lot more (and perhaps different) dumplings when I get back up north. So, while I already have a variety of cookbooks that have smatterings of recipes in them (which I, as usual, never follow but do read from time to time) but aren't exclusively about the art of dumpling making, I took a short side trip to Amazon to see if I can find a more focussed tome on the subject.

I found this one by Andrea Nguyen - http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1580089755?ref_=cm_cr_pr_product_top which is a survey approach I gather to various ethnic dumplings ... Mastering Gyoza, Spring Rolls, Samosas and More ... which appears to be well reviewed.

What else is out there on this subject? Is there a better book that specializes in, or is even more focussed, perhaps exclusively on Chinese and Japanese dumplings, that I really should add to my library?

Edited by Deryn (log)
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What else is out there on this subject? Is there a better book that specializes in, or is even more focussed, perhaps exclusively on Chinese and Japanese dumplings, that I really should add to my library?

There's "Florence Lin's Complete Book of Chinese Noodles, Dumplings and Breads"

It's been out of print for quite some time but you can find used copies, though they are even going for a premium price.

Here's an eGullet discussion about the book (click).  In fact, Googling "Florence Lin Dumplings" shows a few more eGullet discussions referencing the book.

 

As for sourcing ready-made dumplings, I take it you no longer have access to the Asian markets you used to have access to. Trader Joe sells dumplings and char sui (sp?) that aren't too bad. My sister-in-law's mother buys her ready-made lumpia (Filipino egg rolls) in her local grocery store. If your local grocery stores don't carry a product you want, you can talk to the manager's to see about ordering them. They could always say "yes".

 

edited for spelking  :wink:

Edited by Toliver (log)
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I suspect most grocery stores are stocked by a few distributors, who in turn are supplied by a few mass market businesses. I suppose none of the Asian dumpling manufacturers is big enough for the food conglomerates to buy, and they have too small a market share to get into the distributors supply line.

 

But look at it this way, if they were widely available, the quality would decline. As long as the makers are still primarily serving people who know what the item should be like, they have to make something passable.

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I think in many smaller communities, specialty items like dumplings, empanadas, tamales, lumpia, etc. usually circulate via the word of mouth friend of a friend marketplace. Maybe you can go to your mom and pop stores and find out if they have any connections that would be interested in taking your order?

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"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali
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this is the question asked :

 

"  Why are Asian dumplings not available in regular grocery stores? "

 

I think that gdenby got it right.

 

large chains are supplied by large distributors which intern use the largest possible conglomerates.

 

the trucks that stop by, say stop&shop are huge semi's, some times tandem trucks.

 

the trucks that stop my the large asian store i go to in Alston are pretty small by comparison

 

its a more local and much smaller distribution system

 

​I asked at RocheBros.  a friendly store, and they more or less confirmed this.  its extremely difficult to go outside of this system for them

 

​they only vendors for smaller suppliers are for perishables like baked goods.  these tend to be brand specific. Meat comes from a very large central supply house as its a big ticket item. these supply houses sometimes supply more than one chain, with specific packing for each chain

 

vis a vis  " skinless boneless chicken breasts "  pack for each store, but all come from the same large 'packing house'

 

the dumplings I get at the chinese market are made in Boston, at one of several small local noodle distributors.

Edited by rotuts (log)
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Loblaws in Canada now owns T&T - a very large asian market. I'm seeing a lot of the T&T products in the Loblaws stores. Perhaps Nova Scotia will reflect this soon for Deryn's benefit.

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Kerry - I haven't yet seen a major change in the frozen department (in other words for things like dumplings) or on the shelves but at the superstore in Antigonish we do see more basic Asian vegetables (mushrooms, bok choy and all its cousins, Asian eggplants, long beans, etc.) than at the Sobey's competition store. I knew about their T&T connection so I asked them to bring in lemongrass - and they did but I think it walked all the way from where it was grown - looked very sad and old. T&T is a major stop for me when I am in Ottawa though.

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Deryn, when next in Ottawa, I can take you to a little restaurant on Somerset Street called Dumpling Bowl where they make their own dumplings. I have been there when they were making them. One person rolls out the dough, the other person stuffs and folds them. They have a variety of fillings and they can be purchased for take out in both their fresh and frozen forms. They cost about $10 for a bag containing 15 dumplings. They are very good.

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Deryn, when next in Ottawa, I can take you to a little restaurant on Somerset Street called Dumpling Bowl where they make their own dumplings. I have been there when they were making them. One person rolls out the dough, the other person stuffs and folds them. They have a variety of fillings and they can be purchased for take out in both their fresh and frozen forms. They cost about $10 for a bag containing 15 dumplings. They are very good.

Thanks, Elsie. Sounds like a fun outing! Passed through a few weeks ago heading south and thought of you but didn't have too much time for a get-together unfortunately. Will be driving back north again in the next week or two but not yet sure if I will be coming through Ottawa or not.

In other news, I was in B&N the other day and bought myself a copy of 'Dumplings All Day Wong' which seems to have decent reviews on Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1624140599?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

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