The $3 Trader Joe's Freezer Aisle Find My Kids Constantly Beg Me to Make
A frozen dumpling can’t match fresh. But for your money, you can’t do much better than the Chicken Gyoza Potstickers or the Pork Gyoza Potstickers from Trader Joe’s. This product hits all of the right chewy, succulent, comforting dumpling notes. And the best part might be price, because a pound of dumplings costs a mere $2.99.
Right up there with price comes another great benefit: ease of cooking. You can scissor off the plastic top, carefully pour the still-frozen dumplings into boiling water, and have dinner ready in under 15 minutes. You can steam these dumplings. You can give them a pan-fry. You can even, if you want really crispy skins, go for a full-on deep fry. (Just be sure to defrost the dumplings first.)
Within the world of dumplings, this product has an odd name: “Gyoza Potstickers.” Gyoza and pot stickers are two separate dumpling styles—the former a newer Japanese creation, the latter an old Chinese staple. But the two are very similar, and not just in their popularity.
When navigating the dumpling stretch of the Trader Joe’s frozen food aisle, you might come across salmon gyoza. These, slightly more expensive than the pork and chicken products we’re recommending, prove to be a bit disappointing (the interior almost calls to mind a spicy salmon sushi roll, and not in the best way). Instead, reach for the pork and chicken dumplings. I usually get two or three bags at a time. They keep for a long time when frozen, but I wouldn't know: my kids love them so much that they barely see the inside of my freezer before being pan-fried to perfection.
In terms of flavor and texture, these dumplings are downright delicious. They’re probably close to what you think of when you think of dumplings. Doughy skins with a slight touch of thickness; just a little bit chewy. Shaped in off-white halfmoons with the dough tight to the filling packed inside. Each one is sealed with a flat edge at the top, along the curve. The ground meat filling is full of flavor. For both pork and chicken, it has been thinned and rounded out by the inclusion of vegetables, which also help keep the dumplings so moist that you can eat them naked, without any sauce.
You can eat them plain, sure, but you can also use different sauces to enhance them. TJ’s sells a gyoza sauce. This is a decent option, though it does contain cilantro, which has a little bit of an odd feel in a dumpling dipping sauce.
I think there are better roads to take. If looking to embrace the Chinese pot stickers side, black vinegar, available at Asian markets, is a great option. If looking to push these dumplings in the Japanese gyoza direction, a citrusy ponzu does a nice job. Keeping things simpler, a touch of soy sauce does the trick. You can doctor soy sauce with other flavors, like chopped green onions, grated ginger, or a bit of mirin (Japanese rice wine) or sugar.
Don’t sleep on a generous jolt of TJ's chile onion crunch, either.