Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Frozen Dumplings At The H Mart

Frozen dumplings are a terrific convenience food, but they're not that convenient when you can't find the ones that you like.

The H Mart in Catonsville sells an entire aisle of frozen dumplings -- pork and vegetable, Korean and Japanese, a half-dozen different shapes.  They're one of my staples because I can pop a dozen in a pan and make a meal with a vegetable on the side.  Right from the freezer.  Browned in oil and dipped in a mix of two parts rice vinegar, one part soy sauce and some grated ginger.

The problem is that I can't remember which dumplings I want.  I finish a bag.  I throw the bag away, and then I go to H Mart where I stand at the freezer and try to remember my brand.  What was the shape of the dumpling?  What was the name?  Almost all the writing is in Korean.  Or Chinese.  Or at least it is in writing that I don't recognize.

I know my recent favorites have disappeared.  They were thin triangles and came in a couple different fillings.  But I can't find them anymore.  Keith and I were emailing about that last week.  He and his wife used to love the pork pot stickers with cartoon pigs on the front.  Now, the pigs are gone.  Inspired by Keith, we stopped by the H Mart again this weekend, and I picked up two bags.  Those triangles are still missing.  I bought a bag of Han Reum brand vegetable dumplings.  They're old staples folded into a round shape.  I also bought Pulmuone brand rectacular dumplings stuffed with leek and noodles.  They're new to me -- being sampled in the H Mart aisle as we went past.

They're both pretty good.  Let's be honest: These aren't health food.  They're all pretty salty, and I brown them in a little oil.  I buy vegetarian in some delusion that they're healthier, but I admit that it's not really different from reheating pigs in a blanket.  Any suggestions for really delicious dumplings?  Any meat suggestions?  Any ways to distinguish between the shapes, the different countries?

(Update: Check out the comments below for some suggestions at Costco.  And check out Shari's blog for a review of a Maggi dipping sauce.)

Two years ago, I wrote up "10 Easy Pickups" for people who want to shop at the H Mart but want convenience food, not the basics for cooking.  The frozen dumplings are are top ten item.  But even better than the frozen dumplings are the ones that you could cook your own from Andrea Nguyen's book Asian Dumplings.

12 comments:

popcornface said...

I like the frozen pork and vegetable dumplings for a quick meal. But if you have more time, just buy the dumpling wrappers and make your own. It's a lot of fun. We've actually had dumpling parties where everyone brings their favorite ingredients and we make them from scratch. My favorite is ground chicken, spinach, spring onion, and ginger.

Flissy said...

Turnip Strip Buns!

Kevin said...

Triangle. Are you looking for the Lee's Oriental Gourmet potstickers? they have a chicken and vegetable and seafood. It's not very authentic, but they also have a ridiculously awesome cheese pizza potsticker.

Dumpling or potsticker? I have memories of being very confused the first time I had chicken and dumplings. I thought I got shorted my dumplings!

little audrey said...

My favorites are the Ajinomoto seafood gyoza and pork shumai. It's a Japanese company, and their dumplings are made in the US.

Anonymous said...

They are not at H-Mart or the least bit authentic but Trader Joes Chicken cilantro mini-wontons are fantastic and addicting.

Matt said...

Costco has a really big bag (I think the brand is Ling-Ling) of chicken Potstickers that I boil for about 5 minutes until they float, and then transfer to a small pan with a little canola and sesame oil for another 5 min...Only $10 for a really big bag, and it comes with a few bagged portions of a pretty good sauce that you put in a bowl and heat for 20 seconds (I add pepper flakes). If you have a Costco membership I highly recommend them-my wife is picky but we've been going through a bag every 2-3 weeks, and we split about 12-14 for dinner sometimes...

Anonymous said...

Ajinomoto brand, at one time, used to be synonymous with MSG because that was their primary product. Not sure what their other food products are made of since I haven't picked up that brand in ages just because of its association with MSG.

Marcia said...

Matt - I'm with you on the Ling-Ling ones from Costco. But we use the Iron Chef dipping sauce rather than what comes with the potstickers. Not authentic, but pretty darn tasty and easy to heat up.

Lori said...

I love their red bean paste buns.

bl86 said...

One way to prepare the dumplings is to steam them, and then spread them on a baking sheet and put them in the oven. They're just as good as oiling them, and slightly healthier. Slightly. Plus, I find some brands fall apart easily, and this is the easiest way to fix it.

Matt said...

Marcia-where is this Iron Chef sauce? I am a regular at Costco and I don't remember seeing that...

Sheri said...

I have the same problem: I'll find a brand we like at H-Mart or Super Grande - and then the next time I go - it's nowhere to be found. Like others here, we scarf down a sizeable number of the Costco Ling Ling dumplings weekly - I always make a few extra for a quick breakfast for the kids, too. BUT - we no longer enjoy the Ling Ling's sauce packets (which we formerly LOVED - I used to buy it by the bottle direct from the company), after discovering Maggi "Improves the taste" dipping sauce. HIGHLY recommended!!! Both H-Mart and Super Grande carry it. There's a photo and description on my blog: http://akindofmagick1.blogspot.com/2009/09/day-247-potsticker-dipping-sauce.html