Soup Dumpling Souvenirs

Those of you who have been with DALS for a while might know my theory, based on years of research (read: making dinner) in my personal lab (read: kitchen table), that the key to expanding kids’ palates is to bring them along with you on the weekly food shop. As the theory goes, when they select the pack of pomegranate seeds themselves — or the leeks or the avocadoes — they’ll be more likely to try it all at home.

When I wrote about this in Playbook, I focused mostly on the main grocery store run, the one where you pick up the dishwasher detergent right along with the week’s supply of chicken breasts. But I didn’t spend a lot of time talking the other kind of shopping trip, the ones that, for me, can be as exciting as the North American premiere of Mockingjay. (Countdown: One more week!) Think big food halls like Eataly and the Ferry Building; or small farm markets in parking lots; or, my favorite, ethnic mom-and-pop shops that we are constantly stumbling upon as we make our way around the Tri-State New York metropolitan area. There’s the Middle Eastern place sandwiched between two giant car dealerships in White Plains; the cluster of Latino stores in Port Chester (where, among other things, I procured the ingredients for mole last year); the old-school Italian market in Mamaroneck where prosciutto is pronounced with two syllables and two syllables only; the packed-to-the-gills Asian market where I can find cheap, authentic ingredients for my pad thai or just about anything else I want to cook from Thailand, India, Korea, Japan, Malaysia, or China. I even find myself drawn to the C-Town a few miles away because it has an entire wall devoted to any kind of Mexican cheese my little heart (or little recipe) calls for.

These places are magic for me. And for the kids, wandering their aisles in the middle of a weekend day can feel like a quick trip to another corner of the universe. Adding to the thrill: It is 100% required for them to bring home souvenirs. Last weekend, we stopped by our authentic Asian superstore after my midfielder’s rough loss (my midfielder’s really rough loss) and picked up some noodles for pan-frying, some lemongrass, a bottle of hoisin, and this big bag of pork soup dumplings, which, when simmered in homemade chicken stock and sprinkled with scallions, was just the ticket for the world’s easiest dinner on Monday night.

They were richer than I thought, so each of us only got three or four per bowl. (At that rate, we’ll  finish the bag by May.) We rounded out the meal with Andy’s “accidental broccoli,” that I drizzled with citrusy-miso dressing. As the kids on instagram might say: Yassss.

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A bag of frozen dumplings are a staple in our household. So cheap, so delicious. Would you mind sharing the name of your go-to Asian megastore? We’ve made several trips to Mitsuwa in Edgewater, NJ for their amazing food hall, events and of course groceries.


My family is spending this year traveling and we are so psyched about the new foods we’ve experienced and hope to make at home. Thank goodness for the little ethnic groceries out there that will let us!


Yum! We came home with a head of purple cauliflower from the farmer’s market the other day and roasted it up for supper…my little guy could not get over the vibrant color. he ate two helpings! I’m a big believer in getting the kid-o involved in shopping AND putting it out there. never assume they won’t like it/eat it because they just might.

Elizabeth T

Unrelated to this post, I just discovered your blog via People magazine and I am in love! So glad to have found you and please keep up the tasty work!


Uh… Those dumpling are NOT supposed to be cooked in soup EVER. I think you are probably confused by the name “pork-soup” on the bag. Those dumplings are supposed to be steamed, and the inside will be very juicy and filled with soup. That is why it’s called pork-soup dumplings. They are also called “xiao long bao”. You can google “xiao long bao”, see pictures and find proper way to prepare it. Trust me, it’ll tatse 100 times better than cooking them in soup.


Yes, @Eileen! We bought them because we thought they would be soup dumplings the way you describe, and the way we’ve eaten them at so many of our favorite restaurants, but when I steamed one, it became obvious that it was all pork in there. Related: When I took the girls for soup dumplings in the city once, it was a big riddle to figure out how the soup got in there — since you can’t “wrap liquid in a noodle, right?” Anyway, it took them a while but they finally figured out the answer: that the soup was a frozen cube. 🙂 Thanks for the comment and sorry if I confused everyone!

Nicole @ thejameskitchen

Love to stroll around those little (or not so little) specialized shops, too – it is like a brief holiday. I am so fascinated that I get carried away and buy things that look intriguing or that have somehow registered in my mind (gum arabicum, but where is the recipe?). But this is how one makes discoveries (dried limes) and now I’ve got to look for those dumplings. I think, I have driven past the shop in White Plains a few times when we stayed there, so next time, we’ll browse – unfortunately, there is only a limited range of things to cook in a hotel room kitchen. N.

Lex Apostata

I married into a Chinese family and so discovered xiao long bao (soup-filled dumplings) when meeting my bride-to-be’s family in a restaurant in Queens.

Now, my wife does not cook, so I have learned from her mother how to make a few Chinese dishes. One thing I have discovered that making xiao long bao is so incredibly complicated that the best way to enjoy it is to have someone else make it for you. I didn’t know you could buy them pre-made!