How do you cook your frozen dumplings?

How do you cook your frozen dumplings? Just boiling water, or something fancier?

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Kingdom of Dumpling tells you to “keep it boiling for 10 minutes,” which I take to mean bring the water back to boiling after you put the dumplings in, and then wait 10 minutes. That said, their dumplings are sized differently than other places.

Shan Dong Best in SF told me 15 minutes for their dumplings, which seemed long. I bring the salted water back to a boil, and after 10 minutes, snip the edges of a dumpling every minute or so until the cross section is uniform in color. I haven’t died yet.

Fuchsia Dunlop describes a technique where you bring the water to a boil, put in dumplings, bring it to the second boil, pour in cold water, and they are done when it returns for the third time to a boil. Anyone have experience doing this?

Oh, by “fancy” you probably mean turning them into potstickers or something.

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The Fuchsia Dunlop technique you describe is a standard operating procedure. To me it’s too imprecise – how much water to add each time? What temperature? How much water do you start with? I’m in the camp of bringing dumplings to simmer for 10 minutes or so, depending on the size of the dumplings. Takes some experimentation to get the timing right for dumplings from each source but once you’ve figured it out you’re good.

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like potstickers. I half-defrost them, then fry them on one side in a nonstick pan with peanut oil. when they’re golden on one side, I add a splash of water and cover for 4-5 minutes.

well when the frozen dumplings come out it is usually because I am inebriated and have the munchies I usually steam them and then fry them in the wok or a pan not much art to it


I almost always put it in boiling water. Usually speaking, the more boiling water you have the better because that means the water won’t get too cold after you put in the frozen dumplings and will get back to boil faster.

You certainly do not need to use stock/broth for cooking the dumplings. Even if you want to serve them in broth, you do it after, not during the boiling.

In term of the technique, there we have very different technique for different dumplings. In some cases, you would cook the dumplings in boiling water until 80% cooked, then you turn down/off the heat and allow the residual heat to finish.

Depends on the dumpling. For Chinese dumplings, dumplings meant for broths or noodle soups (wonton, shui jiao, etc.) I boil in plain old water. I transfer to soup later, if I have intend to eat with the soup. Pan fried dumplings, like guo tie, I sear and drop in some water for the steaming effect. For dumplings like XLB, i steam.

Nothing fancy here. We usually steam them. Once in a while we’ll fry them in the wok with a little peanut oil. We use them in soups or as a side for anything,

The owner of the Asian market where I buy frozen potstickers taught me that the best way is to lightly oil a frying pan, then place the frozen dumplings into it, the flattest side down, on medium/medium high heat. Once you can see/smell that they are starting to color, add water to 1/4" depth, cover it, and listen until you hear the sizzle which tells you the water has all evaporated and the bottoms are properly browned.

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My husband actually microwaves them for three minutes, covered by a wet towel, unless we’re ambitious enough to pan fry them.

This is exactly how I do it too. I do this with fresh potstickers and dumplings too. We usually don’t put dumplings in soup around our house – we prefer panfried.

we do a couple things at home…

  1. the Fuchsia Dunlop technique is time-worn and was used by my grandmother and her mother, going back god knows how long. something to do with the cooling / heating cycles give you the best dumpling wrapper texture. that said, while the thickness of the skin / filling will clearly have an impact on the time, i’ve found that for your standard frozen dumpling, about 13 - 14 minutes is perfect. it usually ends up being about 3 cycles of cold water in the pot.
  2. i also pan fry. light layer of oil, layer dumpings on, turn heat on to medium. let the undersides brown slightly. then, add agood 1 - 1.5 cups of water and cover. this bsically steams / cooks the dumpling. once the water is gone, the undersides again begin to fry so you let it go until the bottoms are crisp and brown. you alos end up with this awesome starchy, salty, oily “crisp” that connects the dumplings that is great.
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“Nothing fancy here. We usually steam them.” Same here, and it’s usually Asian-supermarket or Trader Joe’s dumplings. We don’t have them as often as we used to, but they’re usually a weekend breakfast item, served on a plate with scrambled eggs and some cobbled-together dipping sauce on the side. I have done the pan-fry/steam method and I like the dumplings, but it plays hell with the seasoning of my nice steel skillet.

I have a cheap old aluminum steamer that was hard to clean if I didn’t soak it immediately after cooking dumplings, and then one day I woke up to the reason those little dim sum steamer pans have parchment inserts. So I cut a bunch to fit my steamer and poked holes at random with a cooking fork and bingo! – no cleanup problem.

A little salt and oil in the water. And make sure the dumplings are sticking together otherwise they may come apart when done.

The Fuchsia Dunlop technique is how we boil dumplings (shui jiao). I have been told that this method cooks the dumplings more evenly (i.e. no overcooked wrapper or undercooked filling) and keep the dumpling from bursting. Growing up, all of our saucepans had rounded lids and that’s what we used to add the water back in. My guess is we add about of 1/4 to 1/3 the original amount of water. Depending on the filling, size of the dumplings, and the thickness of the skins/wrappers, we sometimes have to add water twice (so it would be water boils, add dumplings, water boils, add cold/room temp water, water boils, add cold/room temp water, water boils, turn off heat). When you first put the dumplings in and before the second boil, it’s important to make sure you “move” the dumplings so they do not settle and stick to each other (or the bottom of the pan) as the wrapper softens. Also, we don’t put salt in the water. My little sister and I joke that the dumplings are ready to eat when they’re like witches… that is, when they float up to the top of the water.

If you’re out of steak, Potstickers are a good way to burn those witches :smile:

So, the bottom line is that they’re done when they float, regardless of the cold water technique, or how many times you replenish with cold water? If that’s the case, is the multiple-boil technique done mostly to prevent the boiling water from tumbling the dumplings too harshly? If so, why not just keep it at a lower temperature the whole time and skip the cold water?

Fuchsia Dunlop confirmed the reason for the technique (she responded quickly!):

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That’s what my parents have always said too. As a child I never really questioned the method, it was just a “this is how you cook dumplings.” As a “wise” adult, I learned to heed the wisdom of my elders in the kitchen after ending up with a mess of broken/burst dumplings one time :scream: and these weirdly bloated dumplings another time :grimacing: because I did not do the “add more water” method, which is why I found it fascinating that others have successfully managed to “boil for 10-15 minutes” and end up with perfectly good dumplings!

if I’m lazy and want a crunchy snack, I just deep fry them until golden.

2nd. I steam them, using the rice cooker. Sometimes followed with a pan fry to crisp them up, but not always. Pan frying and inebriation are not a good mix.

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