Making dumplings from scratch takes time, so how do you bank your effort for future meals? Freeze it! I have a stand-up freezer in my garage, and if you were to root in the freezer this morning, you’ll find the following dumplings stashed away in zip-top bags and plastic containers: three kinds of bao, lamb momo, lotus leaf packets (lo mai gai), and Indonesian spicy chicken and sticky rice packets (lemper ayam). Dumplings are at their best when made fresh and cooked fresh but hey, it’s always good to have a few frozen ones for instant gratification.
Recipes in Asian Dumplings contain freezing tips but a couple weeks ago, I received this email from Sue Rosen that prompted this post:
I love your new book and am having so much fun with it. The first batch I made (Pork and Napa Cabbage Water dumplings) got my husband to say, "this is the best thing you've ever made". He happily ate the leftovers for the next couple of days. When I made then again I decided to freeze half of them as you mention in the book. My question is, do I defrost them before cooking or just put them in the pot frozen? And if I put them in frozen, how long do they need to cook?
My answer to Sue was this:
Let them partially thaw — meaning let them sit out for 10 to 15 minutes before dropping them into the boiling pot of water. If they totally defrost, the dumplings can get mushy and be hard to pick up. I basically take the dumplings out of the freezer, put them on a piece of parchment and let them sit there while the water comes to a boil. If there's ice sticking to the dumplings, I wipe it off. If there are cracked dumplings, I try my best to smooth out the wrapper before cooking. This partial defrosting applies to pan-frying and steaming dumplings. [Addendum: Line your steamer tray with parchment and put the dumplings on top to thaw while you ready the water for steaming.]
In her response to my advice on cooking frozen dumplings, Sue revealed her ultimate motive for freezing dumplings:
I'm going away for the weekend and leaving my husband with those frozen dumplings.
She also sent along these photos of her dumpling achievements:
Water Dumplings and Steamed Buns by Sue Rosen
Thanks for the food styling the photos with beer and veggies!
Note that these cooking tips can be applied to store bought dumplings, such as the frozen Trader Joe's dumplings that I reviewed. Despite what the package says, I don't cooking dumplings straight from the freezer.
If you have tips to share on how you cook frozen dumplings, chime in. Or, if you have a question, email me!