Street Food Focus: Dumplings

By: Nicole Lewis

Dumplings aren't just street food they are smart food. The way meat or vegetables tuck perfectly inside a pan-fried crispy or steamed and wonderfully chewy exterior just makes sense. They are so smart that pretty much every major food culture has their iteration of a dumpling. The simple yet flavorful treat can be eaten all-year-round, at any time of day; breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

For me the ultimate dumpling is pan-fried pork dumplings, common to Chinese food, called Jiazoi. If you are in NYC, and want a taste of authentic dumplings, head to Chinatown. Chinatown in lower Manhattan is home to many of China's ethnic groups. Here you can find a variety of dumplings from shrimp dumplings called, har gow, to soup dumplings, and everything in between. If you ask me, all are equally delicious.

If you are looking to bring your street food home stop in one of the many Chinese groceries-you can find everything you need to make dumplings from scratch. Experiment with different fillings. Like most street food dumplings vary with the region as each home cook, province, town, and culture has their favorite method for making the dish. Try unusual ingredients like squash or Chinese broccoli. And don't forget the dipping sauce. The traditional dipping sauce for dumplings is a blend of rice vinegar, ginger, soy sauce, garlic, and scallions. Swap in your favorite vinegar or add in hot chili paste or sesame oil for a new take on the classic.

If you just want some amazing dumplings, here is a round up of dumpling spots around the city:

Dumpling Man on St. Marks place in the East Village is a great choice to satisfy your dumpling craving. The dumplings here are handmade fresh on the premises every day. Dumpling Man serves up a dumpling for everybody with a veggie, chicken, pork, and shrimp option. Mix and match for a quick, cheap, and perfectly balanced meal.

If you are in Chinatown check out Joe's Shanghai for dim sum. Dim Sum is a Cantonese tradition in which tea is served along with small plates in the afternoon. Joe's crab and pork soup dumplings are an NYC favorite.

If you are in the mood for a slight fancier Chinese meal, try The Grand Sichuan. Here you can find authentic Sichuan dishes served in a dimly lit, minimalist, and elegant setting. The Grand Sichuan is known for their soup dumplings, which are a staple in Sichuan cooking. These dumplings feature a pork filling and savory soup broth.

Photo: romainguy

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