Trader Joe’s CHICKEN POT STICKER DUMPLINGS


Chicken and Vegetable Pot Stickers – Perfect for now (Chinese Lunar New Year) or ANYTIME!

Chinese dumplings are one of my very favorite things to eat. Over my lifetime, I would not be surprised if I’ve eaten a thousand of them, in one small hole in the wall place or another, in Manhattan’s Chinatown or Flushing’s. Flushing especially has become a destination for dumplings with terrific places that specialize in dumplings of all kinds. I’ve even learned how to make dumplings myself, from scratch, including at times even making the wrappers (which you can buy in Asian markets). However when you just get a craving for Pot Stickers, of course you can buy them, frozen, ready to cook like these frozen Chicken Gyoza Pot Stickers that TJ carries in their frozen Asian section.

Now I am not going to say that these dumplings can go up against my favorites of my dumpling places, but I do buy these dumplings all the time to have on hand in the freezer so I can easily enjoy some for whenever I am in the mood, and don’t want to leave the house (which let’s face it is all the time now of course.) These TJ bagged dumpling are not at all bad for what they are, they are super convenient, and frankly at $3 a bag (about 21 dumplings) they are a right bargain. TJ sells both a Pork & Veg version and this Chicken & Veg version which I am reviewing. As the pork one is not “porky” enough for me (I can make a decent pork and cabbage dumpling) personally I give a slight edge to the chicken ones surprisingly, as of course pork dumplings are way more typical. Now for me the insides of either of these are too finely ground. In any handmade dumpling you would be able to see the chopped up vegetables which you can’t in either these pork or chicken frozen dumplings. These are a tiny bit on the bland side but one can easily add some a great deal of Asian flavors with a good dipping sauce.

My first choice is to make these in a pan as Gyoza or Pot Stickers. Pot Stickers refers to first frying and steaming them, giving one the best of both worlds texture-wise in a single bite, with the wrapper both a bit crispy and also soft. The skins on these TJ dumplings are not too thick, nor too thin, and are acceptable in proportion to the filling. If I make them myself they would have thicker skins and be packed with filling. But these do fine in a pinch. I have never tried cooking these in a microwave though the package states you can make them that way. Nor have I tried making boiled dumplings with these, as also suggested on the bag. If you did boil them in a strong flavorful chicken broth they might be very good that way, especially with some spinach, kale or other leafy vegetables, i.e., a “chicken soup with wontons and greens” type soup (hmm, i just gave myself an idea to try out!)

I make these mostly as Pot Stickers using a well-seasoned black cast iron pan. If you don’t have one of those, just use a good non-stick pan. Swirl a tablespoon or so of a neutral vegetable oil in the pan with medium high heat. Put your frozen dumplings in bottoms down, being careful to be sure they don’t touch (important!). You will hear them start to sizzle. Cook without touching them till they are nice golden brown on the bottom, maybe 4-5 minutes, checking one every once in a while as you don’t want to burn them but you do want a deep golden brown. When they are, you toss about 3-4 tablespoons of water (or stock) into the pan and immediately put a cover on! Reduce the heat a bit. If you have a clear glass cover thats ideal so you can see whats going on inside but if you don’t, any cover that fits tightly will be fine. We want to steam them until the water is just about all evaporated, which may take about 6-8 minutes. Check when you think they are done. If they don’t look done (skins) just add another teaspoon of water and cook for another minute or two. When ready, if you put a tiny bit more oil when the water is all gone they can get a quite crispy bottom which is lovely, but this step is tricky, and optional. Anyway this is the reason these dumpling are called “pot stickers” as they do tend to stick to the pan and get stuck on. If they are a bit stuck use a spatula to gently help release them, being careful not to tear them.

You should to eat these Gyoza right away while they are hot, so timing is critical. What we do, is we get everything else ready, then take just 2 or 3 dumplings at a time on our plates, cover the pan with the heat off to keep them warm, and come back and fill up again with a few more when we finished the first batch. This way you always eat nice hot dumplings. In the first picture you can see I served them with edamame and peas which were a great match with these dumplings to add in more veggies. You can serve them with a little rice too and any kind of veggie or salad. We can usually eat about 6 each easily as the Main, along with other stuff though they can be just an appetizer of say 3 or 4 each.

Many countries have some variation of pot sticker dumplings. In Korea, “Mandoo“. In Japan they are called “Gyoza“. In China, Jiao-zi or Guo-tie.

锅贴 
Goutié

https://www.tasteatlas.com/guotie/recipe

You eat dumplings with a diping sauce. One classic sauce might be Chinese Black Vinegar* with lots of fresh julienned ginger. Or soy sauce plus vinegar, sugar, ginger and garlic. TJ sells a “GYOZA DIPPING SAUCE” which is fine if making your own sauce is too much trouble. If you like fresh cilantro it’s wonderful with these chicken dumplings. Something spicy to add a kick if thats up your alley. Green Dragon hot sauce for example is great with these!

While I can’t say these TJ frozen dumplings compete with the best Chinese homemade dumpling places, these are quite decent and make up a great deal with the convenience of being able to have them anytime you get a craving! These bagged ones are a bargain for 3 bucks for a 1 lb bag. TJ has a number of other “fancier” dumplings in the frozen section in boxes which cost a bit more but frankly I keep coming back to these. I recently tried TJ’s Pork and Ginger Soup dumplings and frankly was not impressed. Not surprising as making Xiao Long Bao is a pinnacle of the art of dumpling making.

  • Chinkiang Black Vinegar can be found at most Chinese or Asian groceries, usually 5-6 dollars? If you can’t find it and don’t mind paying through the nose Amazon sells it.

If you live in NYC and want great pot stickers and boiled dumplings I highly recommend VANESSA’S DUMPLING HOUSE which I first enjoyed 20 years ago in her first tiny hole in the wall joint on Eldridge Street where no more than 4 people could fit. Word grew about her amazing dumplings which were a buck. Vanessa’s business grew and she became a very successful immigrant entrepreneur who kept expanding and improving and now has multiple beautiful places. If you eat her pot stickers or any of her many kinds of dumplings you will learn what great dumplings are truly like.

Finally, if you really are interested in learning more and maybe trying your hand at them you will find lots of great info here

https://carlsbadcravings.com/potstickers/

and if you are REALLY inspired, make these yourselves!