Gluten freedom has come a long way. I remember 6 years ago having few options available in stores, except for a couple of brands making some of the absolute basics, like bread and crackers. Now, we have our choice of almost anything, including a recent addition to the gluten-free world, dumplings.
The last time I had a dumpling had to be 6 or 7 years ago in Chinatown. I remember going to Sweet-n-Tart, then located closer to Bowery on Mott, to enjoy pork dumplings and my absolute favorite, ginger-scallion lo mein. I always left full, happy and looking forward to the next time. Finding gluten-free dumplings has been like a journey in search of the last unicorn, until now. When I heard about the Feel Good Foods dumpling tasting at Friedman's Lunch, I was ecstatic and couldn't wait to try them.
Vanessa, the owner of Friedman's Lunch, and Tryg, her husband and Executive Chef/Managing Partner of Friedman's, launched Feel Good Foods with the intention of bringing delicious gluten-free foods to everyone. I chatted with Vanessa briefly and she said that dumplings were one of the things she missed most, and after some trial and error, she and Tryg were finally happy with the end product.
The tasting at Friedman's was lovely, with plenty of wine and passed snacks going around, and the star of the show - the dumplings. All of the varieties were fantastic, but my favorites were the chicken and pork, with vegetable and shrimp following closely behind. I devoured dumpling after dumpling and knew that I had to bring some home to share with my Chinese food-obsessed husband, Matt.
I bought two boxes, one chicken and one pork and planned out a whole meal around them. Making them at home was really easy, but I wish I would have talked Matt into following the directions since he decided that we could eat a lot faster by cooking both boxes at once in one pan. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough water in the pan to steam all 16 dumplings, so after they cooked for about 15 minutes we pulled them off the pan to discover that the top of the dumplings were still raw and doughy. Whoops! I'm a fan of fried foods, so we tossed them back into the pan to brown on the other side and they came out perfectly.
The dumpling wrapper is as close to authentic as you can get, it's chewy, but not too thick and has a semi-sweet flavor. The fillings are the star of the show though. with ginger and green onion coming through in both the chicken and pork dumplings. The dipping sauce has to be my favorite though, it's a soy-based sauce mixed with vinegar and sugar, to give it a sweet and salty flavor that makes you want to dip your dumplings after each bite.
I'm excited for Vanessa and Tryg, and can't wait to see these dumplings at Whole Foods and Fairway Market soon. If you want to try them, you can check Whole Foods in a few weeks, or order them online at Gluten-Free Mall.
Keep an eye out for more from Feel Good Foods, word has it they are already hard at work expanding the line to include more Asian and non-Asian products. Can't wait!