All You Wanted To Know About Chinese Dumplings
February 28, 2015 9:27 AM   Subscribe

 
This article is defective in that it is not edible.
posted by Artw at 10:24 AM on February 28, 2015 [20 favorites]


There is nothing better on earth than a good steamed dumpling (蒸饺). When I lived in Taiwan, I used to go to the East Gate Dumpling King and order two dozen of the suckers and gobble them down with copious amounts of dumpling sauce. And there is nothing worse than ordering steamed dumplings and being served boiled dumplings. Bah, I say! Bah!
posted by languagehat at 10:38 AM on February 28, 2015 [9 favorites]


So that's what I'm doing for lunch then.
posted by feckless at 10:41 AM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Damn. Now I'm hungry and the closest decent Dim Sum is four hours away. Also, char siu bao, my favorite, gets short shrift in TFA.
posted by achrise at 10:46 AM on February 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


That's true! They skip lightly over char siu bao. I remember waiting in a long line for a dim sum place in Alphabet City, and to tide us over we brought boxes of char siu bao from the takeaway window in the restaurant. Giant fluffy-chewy bao, with a perfectly balanced sweet meaty interior. We kept fetching more boxes as the line moved slowly... with the sad result that we didn't have much room for the equally delicious dim sum inside when we were finally seated.

I wonder if I can round people up for dim sum tomorrow...
posted by tavella at 10:52 AM on February 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


So hungry.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 11:00 AM on February 28, 2015


One of the few Shanghai foods I miss (and haven't been able to make myself) is sheng jian bao (生煎包). They combine the best parts of all the other types of dumplings: the rich pork soup filling of xiao long, the fluffy, chewy baozi/mantou wrapper, and the crispy fried bottom of guo tie. Now I'm going to be craving them all week.
posted by bradf at 11:12 AM on February 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Also, char siu bao, my favorite, gets short shrift in TFA.

Yeah, momo but not char siu bao? What are they thinking?
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:17 AM on February 28, 2015


Momos are Tibetan. Tibet is not China. China invaded Tibet and is an ongoing oppressive and murdeous occupier.

A more accurate, less offensive and less inflammatory title might have been "A Guide to Popular Dumplings".
posted by taff at 11:22 AM on February 28, 2015




Whooa as a recent vegan this is a wonderful thing
posted by Gymnopedist at 11:31 AM on February 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I used to manage a chinese restaurant in a small midwestern town. A nice sit down one with a live lobster tank, and everything, but still - not Chicago or anything.

One week, we thought we'd try offering dim-sum, as an experiment to see how it would do. The Tuesday before, I put up on the marquee sign out front "Dim Sum - Sat 9-11". We expected like 12 people.

We were absolutely crushed. I went to open the doors, and there was a line. The parking lot was full, and people were parking in the street. We ran out of everything in like 20 minutes. I was calling hungover waitstaff to hurry their ass in to work. It was a disaster. Things went better in later weeks, but jeez louise, god as my witness I thought turkeys could fly fewer people even knew what Dim Sum was.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 11:31 AM on February 28, 2015 [25 favorites]


bradf, I feel you about 生煎包. ime hard to find done properly outside Shanghai.

When we lived in SH, my dad visited on business and stayed at our place over the weekend before meeting with clients and stuff. I took him to our local dumpling place and we watched the guy make them (he had these huge mitts of newspaper). We sat down and my dad bit right in, causing molten melted gelatin to squirt up his nose. He had a giant burn blister in his nose/on his upper lip for all his client meetings. I felt so bad.

Then I left him alone because I had to work for the day and found out later that he went directly back to the 生煎包 place. That's how good they are.
posted by MsDaniB at 11:39 AM on February 28, 2015 [5 favorites]


/is probably going to cook up some frozen ones from Trader Joes tonight, like a filthy barbarian.
posted by Artw at 11:41 AM on February 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Wait, are regular bao ze not official dumplings? Too bun-ny?
posted by MsDaniB at 11:42 AM on February 28, 2015


Dumplings are the new ramen. RIP Ramen. All hail dumplings.
posted by Keith Talent at 11:45 AM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Amused to encounter this as earlier today I'd been trying to squeeze all i could remember from my hanja classes back when I was going to school in Korea to try to decipher the Chinese-only menu of a local restaurant. Somehow learning to read classical Chinese poetry did not prove to be very useful for deciphering menus.

I did manage to figure out that this particular Chinese menu does not have any dumplings on offer.
posted by research monkey at 11:54 AM on February 28, 2015


I'm going in my 7th (and probably last) work trip to Shanghai and I'm sad to say I've only had the famous xiao long bao...this has largely been due to traveling with colleagues who hate most non-American food (I know, I know). Luckily this trip it's just gonna be me and my Shanghainese colleagues. I have already prepped them that I want to go to all things that I've missing from past trips. I will have to make sure we try the Sheng jiang variant too.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:11 PM on February 28, 2015


I believe that this is how they're made:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ViwSeuWVfE
posted by Djinh at 12:15 PM on February 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


Dumplings are the new ramen. RIP Ramen. All hail dumplings.

If I was crazy enough to want to start a restaurant, I think I would find a space not too far from a university and serve dim sum carry out until about 11am, then switch over to being a noodle counter. I bet it would do pretty well.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:18 PM on February 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


GenjiandProust, please do that near my house.

I do not understand why there are not already 1 million hand-pulled noodle places in the States. I plan to market my imaginary lan zhou (sp?) la mien place as super fancy high class stuff, with the guy pulling the noodles and smacking them on the counter loudly right in front of everyone so they can see how super authentic and fresh it is and pay extra for that.
posted by MsDaniB at 12:34 PM on February 28, 2015 [3 favorites]


/is probably going to cook up some frozen ones from Trader Joes...

Which is exactly what I just did, with a little sesame oil and chili/garlic paste. At least my cravings are more sated than piqued.
posted by achrise at 12:45 PM on February 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


gosh, went straight to google to find nearest dim sum place. Well, actually I know the nearest place, but it is not very good. Second nearest and better place. Must book table for next weekend already
posted by mumimor at 12:53 PM on February 28, 2015


Dumplings have already gotten really popular outside of the Chinese community in NYC; hard not to when you can get an entire plate for $2. There are certain dumpling spots that are inexplicably super popular, like Vanessa's Dumplings or Prosperity Dumpling. I honestly think most of the cheap dumpling places (and there are a lot of them in lower Manhattan) taste about the same - I'm guessing those places got popular because they were written about in NYT or Yelp and people don't want to gamble on the generic places. Hand-pulled noodles are another thing that is getting popular. And soup buns. Although Joe's Shanghai has been popular for years and years, so it might never really get the critical mass that ramen did (let alone sushi!)

Lately I've seen dumpling places pop up that boast "organic" or "local" ingredients, more trendy decoration, websites, and obviously way higher prices to boot. My guess is that within the next 5-10 years it will become Chipotlefied and eating dumplings or noodles will be about as adventurous for most Americans as eating a Burrito Bowl. Pick your protein!

One of my favorite dumplings is from Chiu Chow cuisine - it has this transparent skin, is fried, and filled with chives. Here's a picture; sometimes they have it in Dim Sum restaurants. I remember as a kid being in the Chinatown in Bangkok (where most people are of Chiu Chow descent) and they sold these massive versions of them from carts...

As for my favorite dumpling in the city, I like boiled dumplings the best, and I honestly think frozen dumplings from the store taste the same as in restaurants. I think the "Mommy's Gourmet" brand tastes the best, they sell it at most groceries in Chinatown.
posted by pravit at 1:03 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Pravit: My daughter and all my nieces and nephews are absolutely, completely addicted to those Chiu Chow dumplings. They'll plow through 2-3 plates (of 3) each. The young lady running that cart at our go-to dim sum place bee-lines to our table as soon as we're seated.
posted by kjs3 at 1:14 PM on February 28, 2015


Easy to make at home too. I've been using Andrea Nguyen's Asian Dumplings cookbook. Really like her recipe for Shuǐjiǎo (Pork and Napa Cabbage Water Dumplings)
posted by jgaiser at 1:36 PM on February 28, 2015


So is there an ancestral dumpling, or did these all arise independently of each other?

Also, given that the Chinese gave pasta to the West, are raviolis technically a sort of dumpling?
posted by Renoroc at 1:40 PM on February 28, 2015


Thank you so much for this!

On a visit to NY a few years back I dined in an enormous dim sum restaurant with no guide and an adventuresome companion. It was a memorable meal if only for our expressions as we bit into mystery dumplings, many delicious beyond words. After reading this I now feel much regret over some of the wonders we unwittingly waved away.
posted by kinnakeet at 1:56 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


SUBSCRIBE
posted by clvrmnky at 2:58 PM on February 28, 2015


Ravioli are definitely a dumpling.

For years friend and I have discussed doing a "Dumpling of Your People" party, but haven't because of mess/dumpling satiation. Finally the world would see that Ukrainian pedahay (pierogies if you're a wannabe Ukrainian, and aren't you all,) are the worlds most evolved dumpling form. Starch in starch! Genius!
posted by Keith Talent at 3:15 PM on February 28, 2015 [11 favorites]


All I want to know is why aren't they magically appearing on my table when I want them? WHERE ARE YOU, MAGIC DUMPLINGS.
posted by RakDaddy at 4:06 PM on February 28, 2015 [4 favorites]


In case you missed my previous post on high speed Japanese cooking, here's NTT Docomo's most recent commercial about a certain type of Japanese dumpling, gyoza! That poor lady, I hope she has thorough on-the-job insurance for possible long-term cardiac and PTSD issues.

And if you're in Japan, baozi can be found at most festivals and convenience stores, where they're known as nikuman (肉まん). Umai!
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:17 PM on February 28, 2015


Oh my God, this is the wrong article to read an hour before mealtime.

Wu gok forever! But I've noticed a lot of (Vancouver) dim sum places don't serve them anymore. WHY??
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 5:26 PM on February 28, 2015


Vancouver dim sum is competitive, and part of the competition is to be fashionable, that's why you'll see old favourites fall off menus in favour of the shiny, new and bright.

The greatest asset of Vancouver dim sum, nay all Chinese food is they, the restaurants, literally billions of noodle shops/dim sum parlours/fine canto dining houses don't choose to compete on price, but rather quality and innovation. The cheapest restaurant on a street tends to be the first out of business.

And taro dumplings are likely still available at Rainflower next to Yoahan in Richmond or Golden Swan on Victoria, where the dim sum is still slung by surly middle aged women from carts.
posted by Keith Talent at 5:48 PM on February 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


Since my wife found out she has celiacs, we've been searching for a gluten free dumpling recipe. All the one's we've found online aren't up to snuff. Are there any traditional dumplings that are just rice flour?
posted by Brent Parker at 6:41 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


I had a brainwave today: dumplings made with tofu shirataki noodle wrappers. Unfortunately this innovation appears to exist only in my mind.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 6:51 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Brent Parker, there are several things made with sticky rice flour on that page, like Tang Yuan 汤圆/汤团 or Qing Tuan 青团, but they are sweet, not savory.
posted by of strange foe at 7:37 PM on February 28, 2015


Man, I love Lucky Peach. I'd been subscribing to Bon Appetit for lack of better ideas. Now, there's nothing wring with the ol' Bone Apetit, but Lucky Peach is about liking food and not just recipes and the latest home cook trends (cocoa in chili!!??! Mini cupcakes??#!?!1).
posted by cmoj at 7:38 PM on February 28, 2015


> we've been searching for a gluten free dumpling recipe.

Of the dumplings in the linked article, har gow (wrapper is made with tapioca starch plus other starches such as potato or arrowroot), the taro dumpling, and the ones made with glutinous rice would be gluten-free. Not dumplings, but a common dim sum dish is rice noodle roll filled with shrimp.

In general if the dumpling skin is translucent when cooked, it's usually made with some kind of starch and thus can be made gluten-free.
posted by research monkey at 7:42 PM on February 28, 2015


Ugh. This article is so suggestive that I actually had sheng jian man tou this morning, and now I am desperately trying to make plans to have them again tomorrow morning. I've never eaten them in the bite-the-top-and-slurp-the-soup method that they describe and now I HAVE TO.
posted by stoneandstar at 8:33 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


All the dumplings! I think I could live on chinese dumplings for the rest of my life. (And now that I live in the Bay Area, I can do that at Kingdom of Dumpling!)
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:23 PM on February 28, 2015


I believe that this is how they're made:

My life is now complete. Thank you.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:08 PM on February 28, 2015


tavella: "They skip lightly over char siu bao."

Char siu in all its presentations is one of the best things ever, actually.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 10:18 PM on February 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here in Hawaii even the 7-Eleven has a dumpling section. It's the best.

(I was pleased to see mention of manapua and pork hash on that list)
posted by deadbilly at 10:30 PM on February 28, 2015


Achrise: "Also, char siu bao, my favorite, gets short shrift in TFA."

Char Siu Baos fall squarely in the Bao family, my friend.
posted by silanfa at 10:31 PM on February 28, 2015


Char Siu Baos fall squarely in the Bao family

Well, there's some gray area between the Jiao and Bao families. Xiao long bao are obviously dumplings, but called bao and so are shui jing bao (crystal dumplings) and tang bao (soup dumplings). Sheng jian bao are categorised as dumplings, but I always thought of them as bao, because their skin is made of the same kind of pastry as most bao
posted by Alnedra at 11:43 PM on February 28, 2015 [2 favorites]


I live in China and can eat dumplings every day if I choose. I will be sad when I leave and that is no longer possible.
posted by sarae at 2:06 AM on March 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


So is there an ancestral dumpling, or did these all arise independently of each other?

On the Noodle Road: From Beijing to Rome, with Love and Pasta covers some of the history of noodles (and dumplings). The exact source of both is contested, but it's very interesting watching the author travel across the silk road and see the same sort of variants on, say, tortellini/kreplach/wonton-like things pop up from place to place.
posted by damayanti at 7:08 AM on March 1, 2015


I plan to market my imaginary lan zhou (sp?) la mien place as super fancy high class stuff, with the guy pulling the noodles and smacking them on the counter loudly right in front of everyone so they can see how super authentic and fresh it is and pay extra for that.
There's a place in what's left of DC’s Chinatown which does solid, steady business in no small part by having a guy making noodles in the street-level window. Based on how crowded they tend to be despite an otherwise lackluster menu, it seems like a safe assumption that an upscale version would basically be a money printer.
posted by adamsc at 7:30 AM on March 1, 2015


If you want instant cheap dumplings that are pretty impressive for the price, hit up a Dollar Tree with a freezer section. They sell bags of pretty-amazing dumplings (chicken or pork) that are $1 for a bag of 10.

If you soak the frozen dumplings in water for three minutes before draining and microwaving them, you have the cheapest and best lunch ever. People in my office have come over to my desk to ask me what the amazing smell is on days when I made this for myself.

(This was pretty important for me when I was making less than minimum wage, btw.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:32 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


I live in China and can eat dumplings every day if I choose. I will be sad when I leave and that is no longer possible.

Will this be because a) you will eventually leave China, b) they will pass a law forbidding you to eat dumplings, or c) China is poised to run out of dumplings? Personally, I find the thought that we have reached Peak Dumpling unbearable.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:15 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wu gok forever! But I've noticed a lot of (Vancouver) dim sum places don't serve them anymore. WHY??


I was in Richmond for the first time in many years last week. I went to Kirin Seafood near the Landsdowne centre. On the menu, there was no Wu gok! But the Wu gok God heard my silent prayer because, a waiter walked around with a plate of them. Turns out its not on the menu, you have to ask for them. Also not on the menu = har gow and sieu mai.
posted by storybored at 6:05 PM on March 27, 2015


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