Dumpling Galaxy part 1
i’ve mentioned this before but i’ll say it again: if i’m damned for anything its definitely for my predisposition to gluttony. "going to hell in a steamer basket," is that how the saying goes? i joke about this all the time but i never knew how much i loved food until last night…
photo by Ed Anderson
one of the dishes i can no longer eat (because i’m pescatarian) is xiao long bao or soup dumplings. traditionally these little bundles of joy are made with ground pork, various aromatics and pork fat or a meat based aspic that, when cooked, creates a rich and flavorful broth encased in a thin dumpling skin. its so so so goog! words cannot express how deeply and utterly sad i felt when i first thought "i’ll never be able to eat soup dumplings again." i’ve never told anyone about this before but i wept at that very moment. in vein i googled recipes for or restaurants that serve vegetable or seafood soup dumplings. when my search results yielded nothing i became convinced that i’d have to create a recipe and make them myself…but how?
last week, Honey and i celebrated our 1yr anniversary. as a gift, i received the Dumpling Galaxy cookbook by Helen You. low and behold, the first dumping recipe was for pork soup dumplings—jackpot! i spent the entire night coming up with vegetarian & pescatarian versions based on Mrs. You’s recipes. afterwards i wanted to reach out to Helen You, share my recipe ideas and ask if they were even possible to make. i didn’t find any contact information but i did discover that her restaurant, Dumpling Galaxy, was located in Queens, NY—double complete rainbow jackpot!
photo by Brian Hoffman
last night, Honey and i made the highly anticipated trip to Dumpling Galaxy (42-35 Main St, Flushing, NY 11355). its a beautiful and extremely clean space located in The Arcadia mall, decorated in modern Chinese ornamentation and filled with good vibes. the vast menu highlights over 100 types of dumplings and other traditional Chinese fare. needles to say, its impossible to make this a one time dining experience—we’ll have to go back several times to sample everything we want. here’s what we tried this trip:
shrimp, scallop and crab meat signature dumplings
cod fish with fish roe signature dumplings
dried octopus and chive dumplings
eight treasures & pear dessert dumplings
the savory dumplings were served with a raw garlic sauce and a vinegar-soy sauce (both recipes are included in the cookbook). the shrimp, scallop and crab meat dumplings were juicy, tender and sweet, and balanced perfectly with a small dip in the raw garlic sauce. the cod fish with fish roe dumplings were extremely savory and smooth. i loved them way more than expected! the flavor is perfect as it stands but these dumplings coupled well with a small dip in both the garlic and vinegar-soy sauces. the dried octopus and chive dumplings (i believe made with cod fish, i’ll have to consult the cookbook) offered a lovey texture variation; the chewy (but not tough) octopus paired nicely with the smooth cod and fresh green chive filling, and went perfectly with the vinegar-soy sauce! last but certainly not least were the dessert dumplings. the eight treasures held within these perfect pockets of piquancy include toasted walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and raisins, married together with juicy asian pear. the sweet liquid that burst forth was like warm cider at Christmas and the flavor and texture of the filling was akin to baklava—seriously one of the best things i’ve ever eaten (and lucky me, this recipe is in the cookbook)!
my one regret is that i didn’t bring the cookbook along with me—it turned out Helen You was in the kitchen that night! however, she graciously met with us and agreed to autograph my cookbook the next time we came into the restaurant. Helen You is a fascinating being, full of warmth, humor and a passion for her cooking—a true artist in the kitchen. Honey and i mentioned our love of soup dumplings and our plight of not being able to enjoy them anymore due to our dietary restrictions. Mrs. You’s face lit up and she said, "i will make you something special. just give me a minute." with that, she returned to the kitchen. a short while later, she reemerged with a steamer basket filled with the cutest and most beautiful dumplings i’d ever laid eyes on—VEGETABLE SOUP DUMPLINGS!
i nibbled a small hold in the paper thin dumpling skin and carefully slurped out some of the soup. my eyes began to well up, this time with tears of undocked joy. the deep, full-bodied broth washed over my tastebuds and enveloped me like a hug from God herself. to my further amazement, the vibrant vegetables inside were whole—whole kernels of corn, freshly chopped broccoli, chives, etc—not some homogenous mixture i thought soup dumplings depended upon. in this moment, a door of my food-soul opened and the possibilities of soup dumpling variations became endless.
i’d like to thank Helen You for her generous hospitality and the fire of inspiration she has lit within me. i will practice hard on my dumpling making skills—i feel blessed and lucky to have this cookbook and i’ll be able to compare my dumplings with the real thing—perhaps one day Mrs. You can critique my work and give me a cooking lesson ;)
Cooking For Now published 6/16/17