Trader Joe’s Steamed Chicken Soup Dumplings Review – Around the world, there is a chain of Dim Sum restaurants called Din Tai Fung. We have a couple of them here in the Seattle area and they are always packed. They serve soup dumplings that are some of the best I have ever had. Din Tai Fung is rapidly spreading around the world and someday there might be one near you, but Dim Sum is becoming the new Chinese food sensation in the USA. These aren’t as good, but they are pretty darn close!
Where can I find Trader Joe’s Chicken Soup Dumplings?
Well, the obvious answer is that you can find them at Trader Joe’s in the frozen food aisle. They also make Pork Soup Dumplings. They both cost $3.49 for a 6 oz box of six dumplings.
I would hazard a guess that most Trader Joe’s shoppers are pretty adventurous. On the surface, the word “soup” and “dumpling” don’t really go together, but when they are well made, they are sublime. You are probably wondering how they get the soup part into the middle of the dumpling without it leaking? It’s a little secret but it’s not too crazy.
According to the Trader Joe’s website, their soup dumplings are “inspired by the same original soup dumplings, xiao long bao, that originated in the Jiangsu province of China, this type of dumpling is traditionally prepared in a xiaolong, the small bamboo steaming basket from which it gets its name. In English-speaking countries, they’re most often called Soup Dumplings because they are filled with hot soup (and therefore must be eaten carefully!)”.
The way they are made is by putting some ground meat and a thick soup stock that has been chilled to a Jello consistency. You chop up that gelatin into little cubes and put it in with your meat. No leaking! When you steam the dumplings, it turns back into a liquid and instant soup in a dumpling!
I suppose Trader Joe’s is trying to jump on this bandwagon with their Chicken Soup Dumplings. I think they’ve done a good job making dumplings that are a close facsimile to what you get in a good Dim Sum restaurant.
Soup dumplings are a specialty food that is almost impossible to recreate at home, and often can be hard to come by in Chinese restaurants, which are also known as Xiao Long Bao.
I was HIGHLY suspicious when I saw a Trader’s version in the freezer section – soup dumplings don’t travel well as takeout food (which is why we only ever eat them at restaurants), so I certainly could not imagine that a freezer version with microwave instructions would pass as anything remotely edible. Also – the filling is chicken-based. I’d only ever had pork soup dumplings, and I wasn’t looking to mix it up.
Color me surprised, though, because these were actually pretty good! I mean look, they’ll never measure up to the dumplings at your favorite restaurant (nothing will), but they were solid.
How do you cook Trader Joe’s Chicken Soup Dumplings?
There are six dumplings in the tray, each cradled in its own little pocket like an egg carton. Prep couldn’t be easier, you just microwave the dumplings in the tray for a little under two minutes and you’ve got a hot appetizer. Only two of my dumplings came out leaky (I was expecting that they’d all be a disaster)- the rest held up perfectly.
The skins were the right mix of delicate and sturdy, the filling was flavorful, and the soup rich. I made a quick dipping sauce with soy sauce, grated ginger, and rice vinegar, and it rounded out every bite in just the right way. Unfortunately, my kids can eat about 3 boxes of these each. Yes, it’s cheaper than going out but at $2.99 a box, it adds up quickly. But, I will be buying these as much as I can to feed my need for good soup dumplings!
filling: chicken, water, onion, green onion, soy sauce (water, soybeans,
wheat, salt) ginger, gelatin, sugar, cooking rice wine (water, alcohol, salt),
sesame oil, soybean oil, salt, autolyzed yeast extract, white pepper,
chicken flavored powder (yeast extract. natural flavor, salt),
dough: enriched wheat flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour,
niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid),
water, wheat flour, modified tapioca starch, salt, soybean oil.