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Which Frozen Chinese Dumplings Do you Buy?

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Was in the new Super 88 in Malden. Much bigger than the one in Chinatown. Very impressed. Wondering which brand of Chinese dumplings do people recommend. I prefer pork but open to any. Also, does anybody recommend which dim sum items or buns that people like. Call me crazy but I like the Trader Joes dumplings the best so far. Have tried a few of the Chinese ones, but either too doughy or not enough taste.

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  1. i buy them frozen from wangs in somerville.

    6 Replies
    1. re: trev80

      seconded.

      1. re: passing thru

        one other tip if you're headed out to the 88 in malden: right nearby on commercial is dom's, a solid old-style sausage place that makes a right good chinese sausage. the italian ones are good as well. worth an extra stop if you're out that way.

        1. re: passing thru

          Oh, thanks! What a great tip.

          1. re: Rubee

            just to clarify, it's more a chinese-style sausage that dom's carries rather than an authentic type.

            1. re: Rubee

              And while you are in the neighborhood, make sure to stop at the Piantedosi warehouse on Commercial STreet- just a few doors down from Dom's, heading towards Boston. Great bread and rolls at dirt cheap prices.

        2. re: trev80

          Third.

        3. We buy ours from Qingdao in Cambridge - much better than anything in the case at Super 88. I can't remember the co. that makes the ones I like the best at Super 88 - they have a very plain, utilitarian label and no picture - I believe they're made locally (but could be the distributor, again, my memory is not good on this). The pork ones have black writing on the label, some other kind has all green writing, etc.

          4 Replies
          1. re: gansu girl

            You're describing the Chinese Spaghetti Factory dumplings, which I've found to be very good. Almost as good as Wang's & Qingdao.

            BK

            1. re: BJK

              Yes- those are the ones i get.

              1. re: limster

                I've bought those at Super 88 in Malden. They were demoing it one week in the front of the store so I picked up a few bags. They say "Chinese Brand Pork Dumpling" on them.

                1. re: Chris VR

                  Yes yes! These are the ones - thanks, all.

          2. I have bought dumplings at both Qingdao Garden and Wang's and slightly prefer Qingdao's. I found the dumplings from Wang's to have overly thick skins. Both are far better than any I've ever gotten from a store, though.

            1. I've bought from both Wang's (Somerville) and MuLan (Cambridge) - happy with each.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Rubee

                thanks. appreciate everyone's input!

              2. you are totally not crazy. I think the Trader Joe's shrimp ones are great.

                1. I like Trader Joe's for a lot of things, but their dumplings are not the real thing to my mind. They're not bad, just inauthentic.

                  I like Qingdao's dumplings the best. The have several varieties of dumplings, including a few vegetarian ones, and they're all great.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Kenji

                    Did Tj's get a new dumpling provider? The one they had went out of business and TJ's hasn't had dumplings in a good 6+ months.

                    1. re: mkel34

                      I was at TJ's last week in Coolidge Corner and they finally have the old dumpling/gyozas back!

                      The nice guy at the check-out told me that TJ's only renewed their order for chicken and pork gyoza, not the veggie or shrimp, and in doing so, they inadvertently put the supplier out of business. Ironic, no? The good news is that they reached an agreement with the supplier, and the gyoza is available once again (although only the chicken and pork).

                      1. re: taylor_blair

                        Hooray! I just discovered this too! I get dumplings from Wangs but I *love* the pork potstickers from TJ's.

                  2. chinese spaghetti factory

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: galangatron

                      FWIW Market Basket (Somerville and others) also carries the "Chinese Brand" dumplings from the Chinese Spaghetti factory. Not as much selection as the Super88, but they seem to be restocked regularly.

                    2. I know it sounds terrible, but the Ling Ling chicken dumplings from Costco are pretty good. Not the best but at least on par or slightly better than TJs and much cheaper. There is a decent amount of garlic, sesame oil and scallions in them.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: BikeToEat

                        Ling Ling chicken are a great buy at Costco but you can get smaller bags at whole foods if you don't have time for a special trip to buy them.

                        1. re: BostonZest

                          The sauce that comes with the Ling Ling ones is awesome!

                      2. I have been consistently impressed by a brand at Super 88 that has no English on the front save for "Leek & Pork Dumpling". It has a cartoon or a young lady giving the thumbs up sign and they are made by the generic sounding Prime Food Processing Corp. out of Brooklyn, NY. (primefoodusa.com, but don't bother going to their site, it says nothing but "hello") They have a delicate skin, yet hold up to boiling (the recommended cooking method) and the filling is flavorful. 48-50 per bag for about 3 or 4 bucks

                        1. It depends on whether you are going to have "shui jiao" (boiled dumplings,cooked only in water) or "guo tie" (pot stickers, pan fried dumplings, cooked in oil and water). The Chinese Spaghetti Factory dumplings are really for boiling, and quite good. Trader Joe's, while not authentic, are definitely the right shape and size for pan frying. As are several of the Korean and Japanese brands that Supper 88 and others carry. Generally, if the dumpling has a flattened bottom it is for frying--this type is also generally larger. If it has a rounded bottom its for boliling or adding to soup.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: cornFusion

                            The skin is thick enough on the Chinese brand that allows them to fry up just fine. I do that very often with them. A better gauge is actually the thickness of the skin. Soup dumplings usually have the much thinner, wonton-wrapper-like skin that is very soft.

                          2. Thanks to this posting I ventured out in search of Chinese Spaghetti Factory Dumplings. I have made them on my own many times, but it is very time consuming. I found them in Chelmsford at M&H Oriental Grocer on Summer Street. They carry many varieties. We tried the Pork and Leek Dumplings, they were excellent. I plan on trying all the other kinds in the future.

                            Thanks Chowhounds!

                            1. I just found the Chinese Spaghetti Factory mini dumplings, which you can defrost briefly and float in a quarter inch of oil, so you can just fry them, without that pesky boiling or steaming step. It's much less messy and the dumplings are crispy on the outside, the skin is much less likely to separate from the filling, and they can be eaten in just one bite. I have no idea why this mini dumling idea hasn't swept through the frozen dumpling market... I guess earthlings just can't handle new concepts.

                              12 Replies
                              1. re: KWagle

                                I have been buying bags and bags of these since local Hounds pointed me to them, but mostly boiling them. I love this idea of frying in a small amount of oil and skipping the boiling/steaming. How brief is a brief defrosting?

                                1. re: MC Slim JB

                                  Even with the large peking ravioli step, i never defrost or do a seperate boil/steam step , well not in a seperate pan anyway. Heat a little oil and put them in it still frozen and brown them, then once the browning is done i put about a cup of water in the pan and cover it and let them cook. So you are steaming them but its all in the fry pan

                                  1. re: MC Slim JB

                                    Gotta' agree with hargau to never defrost those things, as you'll be left with a sticky nightmare (and likely rip holes in all your dumplings). If you're going to fry them - which I do too - you should boil them first and then fry them. If you steam them in the fry pan as well, you won't get the nice brown, crunchy skin parts which I love. Boil first, drain well, and then fry them up. Just don't scoot them around the pan or or you'll break the skin.

                                    1. re: kobuta

                                      Another option is to put a few tablespoons of neutral oil in a 10" non-stick pan with a lid. Take each frozen dumpling and roll it in the oil, coating the bottom and sides and line them up in the pan. This keeps them from sticking together once they are completely cooked. I usually use a concentric, pinwheel-type of arrangement, fitting them in closely. Pour ~3/4 cup of water mixed with a tablespoon of vinegar (supposedly this makes the dough soft and not rubbery though I don't have proof of this) into the pan. Put the cover on the pan and place over medium high heat, letting the water boil away and steam the dumplings. Once the water has evaporated, the oil at the bottom of the pan will fry the steamed dumplings and make the bottoms crisp. You just need to check every now and then to see how brown they are getting.

                                      1. re: BikeToEat

                                        This is pretty close to the way I make them and it works like a charm. I give them 6-8 minutes with the water but I think I use less than Bike.

                                        1. re: BostonZest

                                          I may have over estimated the water a bit, though it depends on whether you have dumplings with thick or thin dough. The thicker dough will take more water.

                                        2. re: BikeToEat

                                          i have always done what kobuta does but i will try your technique. i just hope they will get really crunchy on the outside, like i like them. I have also devised a 'stir fry sauce' which keeps at room temp. I use it in 2 ways: 1) after the dumplings have crisped,and the heat is still on,I ladle on some sauce and quickly stir and serve. Of course it sputters and permeates the dumplings, like a regular deglazing.
                                          2) I stirfry some veggies and ladle on the sauce in the last minute of cooking, creating the same effect as above.As I sometimes cheat and use the TrJ frozen Stir Fry Veggie mixture, which is not as crisp as fresh, this stir fry sauce is good for masking the lesser crunchiness. I also often add cooked dumplings to the near-done stir fried veggies before adding my sauce.

                                          Here's my recipe. It is extremely simple and lasts forever.

                                          CURRY SOY STIR FRY SAUCE FOR VEGETABLES
                                          AND/OR DUMPLINGS

                                          x3: x1:

                                          3T. 1T. CORNSTARCH
                                          1/2 C.+ 1T. 3 T. COLD WATER*
                                          ¼ C. 1 ¼ T. CURRY POWDER ( Sun Brand Madras Curry Powder,sold at Whole Foods, is the far superior brand)
                                          ½ C.+ 1 T. 3T.SOYSAUCE-( I prefer Superior Soy or Kikkoman)
                                          ½ C. + 1T. 3 T. RICE WINE VINEGAR
                                          (Extra water on hand when cooking)

                                          Pour a little warm water into cornstarch and stir with your finger to make a paste. Add rest of ingredients and stir well. Remember to quickly restir this JUST before adding to the hot pan.

                                          Stir fry veggies in a little smoking- hot veggie oil (do not use a non stick skillet), over the highest heat, a few minutes.When just near done, turn down the heat to medium and immediately add enough of this mixture to coat the veggies. Stir well and let all come to a boil in a few seconds (so cornstarch will thicken).
                                          Turn off heat and serve. (If the veggies are dry after adding the sauce, add more water immediately so that it is a little saucey.Stir and serve.)

                                          Keep this mixture on hand at room temp. but stir well with a fork before using because cornstarch settles on the bottom in a thick mass.

                                          I use this with Trader Joe’s Frozen Stir Fry Vegetables.

                                          * You may need to adjust my water proportions to get a more saucey or dry mixture, depending on your taste.

                                          ** You may substitute the veggies with, or add to the veggies,pre-boiled chinese dumplings.

                                          opinionatedchef 04/08

                                      2. re: MC Slim JB

                                        I use the potsticker instructions from Chez Pei though I've never managed to get them quite as nice as her picture:

                                        http://www.chezpei.com/2006/09/potsti...

                                        I've never tried the mini dumplings from Chinese Spaghetti Factory. What fillings do they have? I've only had dumplings from Qingdao Garden and Wang's. Both are very good, though I ate so many in grad school that I've had to take a break from them for a bit...

                                        1. re: maillard

                                          At Super 88, anyway, the minis come in pork and pork & leek. Normal size options include pork, pork & leek, chicken, pork & shrimp, vegetable, pork & mushroom, and chicken & shrimp.

                                          1. re: maillard

                                            Yes thats what i do and was trying to describe. I used to buy them at the factory in chinatown. You can get bags of 50

                                          2. re: MC Slim JB

                                            MC, what brand of dumplings do you buy?

                                            1. re: CambridgeFoodie

                                              I'm pretty sure he's referring to KWagle's post above regarding the Chinese Spaghetti Factory dumplings that I've long been a fan of.

                                              :)
                                              BK

                                        2. Mine are actually not Chinese but Korean known as Mandoo.
                                          I get them from the Superior Market in Union Square.
                                          They are best fried since they are thin.
                                          I always by the pork type.

                                          1. I am looking for frozen dumplings (not from supermarkets but restaurants that make their own). I've heard a lot about Wang's but then a friend told me the skin is really thick - which I dont like. Which one do chowhounders like: Qingdao Garden vs Mulan?

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: kweesee

                                              I like both Wang's and Qingdao's versions. The wrapper on the Wang dumplings are a little thicker, but the filling may have a bit more flavor. The Qingdao dumplings do have a thinner wrapper, and are a little more delicate during cooking. Love the dipping sauce at Wang's more, but for the frozen dumplings, I simply make my own.

                                              To be honest, not sure I can go an entire week without having dumplings from one of these two spots.

                                              1. re: smtucker

                                                homemade dumplings are def the best....so maybe wang's are best for pan fried dumplings and Qingdao is better for boiling -- does it break easily while boiling?

                                                1. re: kweesee

                                                  I gently simmer/steam both varieties until cooked. I only pan fry them as leftovers. [Now I know where I have to go for dinner tomorrow night!]

                                                  1. re: smtucker

                                                    thank you smtucker. im going to try them this weekend. its actually for my bf who doesnt cook and doesnt even have time to buy food. maybe i'll buy one bag from each place :)

                                                    1. re: kweesee

                                                      heck, splurge and get TWO from each place. Buy him some ginger and some soy sauce, grate the ginger into some of the soy sauce so he can dip to his heart's delight.

                                              2. re: kweesee

                                                To me the biggest differnece is that Mulan's wrappers are made with egg white, whereas Wang's and Qingdao's are just flour, water and maybe a tiny amount of oil. Wrappers with egg white added are more resilient, but they have a different texture than those made without egg white. Both versions are common in China, and are "authentic". Personally I prefer Qingdao or Wang's (especially when they have fennel filling on the menu).

                                                1. re: qianning

                                                  I love it when a CH provides the kind of detail you have re the egg whites!

                                                  One thing, the 'fennel' and pork dumplings at Wang's - are really DILL (which I detest in these dumplings while i would have loved a fennel version) and they just mis-named them. I have spoken to them about this mis-naming to no avail. They made this mistake because dill and fennel fronds look so similar, but taste so different. Fennel tastes like anise, or licorice.Fennel fronds are at the top of a bulb vegetable, eaten raw or sauteed or baked.

                                                  1. re: opinionatedchef

                                                    good point on the fennel vs dill, I've had "fennel" duplings there which were fennel, and fennel dumplings there which were dill. For some reason Chinese (Hui Xiang) not only use the same word for these two plants, but don't seem to distinguish one from the other, this is true in China as well in the US.

                                              3. I bought a large bag of the Spaghetti Factory pork dumplings ($3.59!) at a Chinese Market in Chinatown (Boston) on 4/6/08 (minutes before dining at the excellent Imperial Seafood Chinese restaurant). It was on or just off of Harrison Street. They looked smaller than the traditional Peking Raviolis (that my family and I are so fond of ordering at chinese restaurants) but they looked similar and the ingredients sounded correct (pork, cabbage, etc.).
                                                I brought the bag home and tossed it in the freezer. The next day, I opened it up and threw about twenty into a hot and large Teflon saute pan with about two TBLs of canola oil (ran out of the preferred peanut oil) sizzling in it. I browned them carefully (med/high heat) until golden. I then poured in about 2 TBLs of dry sherry, a 1/4C of some soy based "dipping sauce" (from an earlier take-out order of Peking Raviolis), and enough bottled H2O to bring the simmering liquid about 3/4's up the dumpling's sides. I covered the pan and simmered/steamed the suckers for about 15-20 minutes. They were EXACTLY like we get at a restaurant -- only smaller (I prefer the smaller size, as they don't flood your plate with filling "juice" when cut and you get pork filling in each bite; the "meatball" in the large ones alway slides out leaving you with a big, dough cocoon)

                                                These are far better than Trader Joe's cabbage-heavy-heart-burning "potstickers."

                                                I called the Spag Fact ((617) 445-7714? ) to ask if they sold to any stores in Central Mass (even though I knew I'd get someone who only spoke Chinese), but I only ended up getting a squealing FAX tone -- I don't speak FAX either.

                                                14 Replies
                                                1. re: Harwichporter

                                                  Joyce Chen has her own brand out now and I have seen them in the frozen section Stop & Shop, BigY, Hannaford, Market Basket ($3.67 one pound bag) and Foodmaster on Alewife. They contain No MSG, no preservatives and are lower in fat and sodium that other brands. I use plain apple cider vinegar as a dipping sauce to watch my sodium.

                                                  1. re: stirfryman

                                                    A friend just gifted me with a bottle of ginger vinegar and that is my new dipping sauce!

                                                    Here it is on Amazon but it is available locally.

                                                    http://tinyurl.com/3hvtsk

                                                    1. re: BostonZest

                                                      Try Chinese Black Vinegar, available at Super88, straight out of the bottle, or in a pinch, balsamic.

                                                      BK

                                                      1. re: BJK

                                                        That's my pick too. I love black vinegar ... pretty color and almost floral taste to the Pearl River brand. I got my huge bottle at See Sun for $1.09

                                                        1. re: yumyum

                                                          Pearl River Brand black is "JinJiang" (sometimes spelled ChinKiang)Vinegar--i.e. southern Chinese black vinegar, but the more traditional vinegar for Dumplings (especially boiled dumplings) is Shanxi Vinegar, called "Lao Chen Cu". Super 88 & Kam Man both carry a couple of brands of this style of vinegar. Two parts vinegar, to one part soy, one part sesame oil, chili flakes optional, is a very traditional dipping sauce for boiled dumplings.

                                                          1. re: qianning

                                                            What are some of the brand names?

                                                            1. re: jgg13

                                                              Unfortuantely all the Shanxi vinegar I have around is direct from Beijing (I actually drag the stuff back every trip), so no relevant brands to pass on, but I know that I've gotten some Shanxi style vinegar at both Kam Man and 88, I just don't remeber brand names, sorry. Anyway, look at the ingredients, Shanxi vinegar is malted/brewed with a combination of Sorghum, Wheat, Wan Dou (a legume very similar to a pea) and wheat bran, I guess it is this mixture that gives the flavor complexity. Most southern Chinese viegars, like Jin Jiang, are based on rice.

                                                          2. re: yumyum

                                                            I just picked up a bottle of really amazing chinese vinegar, will have to check the name. Reminds me of a cross of a really fine spanish sherry vinegar with some exotic, fermenty, chinese notes as well. Superb! Will dig up the name and repost. Pretty sure I got it at Super88.

                                                            1. re: StriperGuy

                                                              did the label give any idea where the vinegar was made? there are big regional differences in chinese vinegars.

                                                        2. re: BostonZest

                                                          Found this at Whole Foods for $.50 less than the amazon price. I bought it in anticipation of my next dumpling-fest.

                                                          1. re: smtucker

                                                            I like to dip my dumplings and potstickers in Chinese chili paste (looks like this: http://www.beijingmadeeasy.com/images...)

                                                            1. re: fallingup

                                                              kinda looks like chili oil to me....some version (there are many) of that sort of oil is on the tables of just about any dumpling stand i've ever been to in china. the other standard condiments at those stands would be vinegar, soy, and raw garlic.

                                                      2. re: Harwichporter

                                                        most Chinese owned grocery stores (even the very small ones) in New England carry Spaghetti Factory dumplings, ditto many Viet Namese and Korean stores.

                                                        1. re: Harwichporter

                                                          I stopped in to Chines Spag Factory this AM...not bad..not up to Wang's, Zoe's or Mulan when they sold in bulk...but a lot more convenient for me; and I'm happy to have a supply in the freezzer.

                                                          They told me they supply a lot of restaurants and direct retail is a minimal part of their biz.

                                                          They come in large boxes or 50 piece bags.

                                                          To find them, they are at 73 Essex..just off Harrison. If you look at Super 88...they wii be on your right..toward Oxford St.

                                                        2. I recently cooked up about 15 potstickers 'guo tie' from Spaghetti Factory from a bag that I had bought about 1.5 months ago. The skin on these had almost doubled in thickness from previous bags that I had bought that even after boiling for a good 20-25 minutes, I was not sure if the skin had cooked through evenly or not.

                                                          Another place that I recently started buying from is the Newton Corner/Concept Mart at the bottom of Centre St. in the little mini-mall by the Pike. They have an interesting variety but you won't find all varieties there all the time, can be very hit and miss but never hurts to try something new. The size of the dumplings are the same as Wang's or Qingdao Garden's. They are well seasoned, skin is just the right thickness/consistency. They also have wontons from time to time but made with the thicker, mainland style wrappers instead of the thinner HK style wonton mein wrappers. Downside is that they're on the expensive side for a bag of 50 dumplings/wontons - $11 last I checked.

                                                          -----
                                                          Newton Corner Market
                                                          447 Centre Street, Newton, MA 02458