National Dumpling Day – Part 1

So I intended to do a post for National Dumpling Day, September 26, consisting of a few of my favorites from past posts, sort of like a “Dumplings I Have Known and Loved” kind of thing. But perusing what I have in my files disclosed almost a hundred candidates!

So here’s Part 1 of National Dumpling WEEK!

Stay tuned for more because…

Everybody Loves Dumplings!

Bicol Express

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One of my first posts on this website, “Dem Are Good!”, exposed my fondness for (read: addiction to) Nagaraya Butter Flavor Cracker Nuts. (IYKYK. And if you don’t, take my Ethnic Eats in Elmhurst food tour and I’ll hook you up – they’re called CRACKer Nuts for a reason.) Like all good things, it seems they have become harder to track down as the years have gone by, but my source, Phil-Am Food Mart at 70-02 Roosevelt Ave in Woodside, often has them in stock.

In addition to providing the elusive Cracker Nuts I had been stalking, Phil-Am also offers a considerable selection of top notch locally made prepared food. Since Filipino cuisine is one of my all-time favorites, I can never visit without picking up at least one main dish, in this case a pint of Bicol Express.

Bicol Express is made with pork stewed in spicy coconut milk infused with shrimp paste and laden with green chilies. Named for the Bicol Express, a passenger train that ran from Manila to the Bicol region in the Philippines, I guess you could think of this dish that’s both creamy and spicy as running from one terminus on the flavor route to another.

It should be served with rice, so I made my version of Bagoong Fried Rice. (Oversimplification: Start with onions, garlic and the all-important Ginisang Bagoong sautéed shrimp paste; fry together; add pre-cooked refrigerated white rice; continue to fry; add scallions and sometimes mangoes to finish.)



Posted for the sake of completeness, here are two final photos from my Greenpoint Polish explorations back when I was deciding about introducing a Little Poland ethnojunket.

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These are Pyzy. In Polish, the letter Y sounds like a short I, so the singular, pyza, rhymes with “is a” – which explains why, although tempting, the title of this post isn’t Easy Pyzy.

Now that that’s out of the way, pyzy are boiled Polish dumplings made from a combination of raw and boiled potatoes held together with flour and eggs and commonly stuffed with cheese, mushrooms, or meat (like these). Homespun and heavy, they’re served as a filling main course often with fried onions on the side.

The cake rolls are Rolada (like French roulade) – custardy raspberry above and hazelnut below.

So maybe we didn’t start with easy peasy, but we ended with a piece of cake! 😜


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Almost sounds like “lasagna” but with a cute Polish spin on it – and there may be a connection. From Wikipedia:

“Łazanki arrived in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the mid-16th century when Bona Sforza, Italian wife of King Sigismund I the Old, brought high Italian cuisine to the country. Accordingly, the name łazanki is reminiscent of the Italian lasagna, the name for a type of pasta in the shape of large, flat rectangles. Since łazanki resemble mini versions of lasagna, their Polish name is correspondingly diminutive in form: little lasagna.”

Or so goes the legend. In any event, boiled łazanki noodles are cooked with either fresh cabbage or sauerkraut, mushrooms, onions, pork fat, optionally kielbasa, and topped with sour cream (of course).

Tastes as comforting as it looks. More Polish leftover photos to come. Stay tuned.


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Thought I’d share a few leftovers with you. Not leftover food, but leftover photos – from the time not long ago when I was prowling the streets of Greenpoint, Brooklyn deciding whether I should put together a Little Poland ethnojunket.

First up, here is a peek inside a Krokiet, a Polish croquette. Krokiety are crêpes that are filled, rolled up, breaded and fried. They’re served as a snack or as part of a more expansive meal and can be stuffed with meat (like this one), cabbage, mushrooms, sauerkraut or a combination thereof. If it looks like a breaded blintz, you’re not far off – it’s the breading that distinguishes it from its cousins.

More leftovers to come. Stay tuned.


Genatsvale is a touching Georgian word that doesn’t readily translate into other languages. At its essence, it is a term of endearment but it’s actually an elision/concatenation of a longer phrase which loosely deconstructed is, “If you are ever in trouble, let me take your place.” Sweet.

It is also the name of a new month-old Georgian bakery at 3070 Brighton 3rd St in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn where the two items I’ve tasted have easily surpassed any other versions I’ve experienced – and that’s saying something.

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This is Achma. It looks like noodles with cheese, but it is considered a member of the khachapuri family (Georgian breads). It consists of layers of thin handmade dough (a laborious task) interspersed with a mixture of cheeses all baked together until the top is brown and crispy and the cheese is melty and gooey. Their rendition of the dish is outstanding, and yes, we enjoy this seemingly modest miracle on my Exploring Eastern European Food in Little Odessa ethnojunket.

And speaking of sweet, what’s for dessert? They spell it Gada although I’ve seen Qada more frequently. The dough is rolled out, spread with a simple but rich filling, rolled up, and crinkle cut on the bias. It’s dense yet soft, a little crumbly, sweet but not cloying, buttery but not unctuous. Again, it’s by far the best I’ve had anywhere.

No surprise that they know me by now because I keep going back for more – so if you want to buy some for yourself, tell Katie or Linda that ethnojunkie sent you! (This is NOT a paid endorsement, but it is a recommendation!)

Or you could just take my tour to try these and even more delectable treats! 😉

Shakalaka Bakery

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The cliché applies to each of New York City’s nine Chinatowns: So many bakeries, so little time. And Flushing is no exception rocking its major chains, smaller collectives, and the occasional singleton.

Each is known for its specialties, and each has its loyal followers who passionately champion their choice of who has the best Don Tat (egg tarts), the best Char Siu Bao (BBQ pork buns), the best Jian Dui (sesame balls) – you get the idea. The larger chains have a reliable contingent of the most popular goodies (like the aforementioned) but it seems to me that the smaller the establishment, the more likely you are to find something unique.

Shakalaka Bakery at 136-76 Roosevelt Ave in Flushing is one such enterprise. I entered in search of crispy, crumbly, almond thins but was stopped in my tracks by a sign that read “Gooey Chocolate Cookies” perched over a tray of baked goods that looked more like mini loaves than cookies. Obviously, since gooey, chocolate, and cookie comprise a hat-trick, I had to indulge. I’m hard pressed to describe it as a cookie, but I can vouch for the fact that it was a righteous snack on the subway ride back. (What – you thought I’d wait until I got home?)

And in other news, although I didn’t purchase it, the label on these diminutive carbobombs was “Chestnut Cake”.

I think “Cousin Itt Cake” would have nailed it, but that’s just me.

Guoyu Spicy Fruit

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In case you were thinking that Mexico had cornered the market in sweet fresh fruit garnished with a spicy topping (Tajín, for example), please allow me to disabuse you of that notion.

I was in Flushing scoping out new and unusual goodies for my “Snacking in Flushing – The Best of the Best” ethnojunket and I discovered Guoyu Spicy Fruit in the revived Golden Mall at 41-28 Main St. They’ve been there about a month offering 16 varieties of cut fruits with a choice of either spicy chili or sweet yogurt mix-ins.

You’ll see samples for each of the two options. Taste the spicy sample and then channel Goldilocks requesting spicier than this, less spicy, or just right. Personally, I think the idea is brilliant – so much more meaningful than an arbitrary numbering system that’s relative to nothing.

The sweet yogurt option comes with an assortment of toppings such as popping boba, coconut, sprinkles, crumbled chocolate cookies, nuts & raisins, and the like so you can customize your treat per the sample cups as well.

Naturally, I was all in on the spicy option. You fill up either size (¾ or 1 liter) container yourself with as many or as few kinds of fruit as your heart desires and specify the topping to be mixed into it. I’m pleased to report that it was truly delicious – how could it not be?

But even the smaller size was more than I could finish in a single sitting, so I brought the remainder home with me – and that’s when I went rogue: I tried it over vanilla ice cream and it was positively synergistic. Turned out it was also a perfect foil for mixing into tapioca pudding. The day after that, I anointed my breakfast French Toast with some of the remaining sweet, spicy juice: who needs cloying maple syrup? I will even admit that I poured a bit into a glass of ice cold Coca Cola by way of experimentation – and it actually worked!

I am more than happy with this – not to mention that it’s good for you! Fresh fruit and spice – no fat, no sugar added. Plus check out the adorable multi-purpose bucket that it comes in!

I’m curious to see what you think, either if you’ve been there or are planning to go; let me know in the comments below!

Flavor du Jour

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What’s your favorite flavor? My favorite flavor varies radically from day to day. That particular day was a sweltering New York City scorcher that reminded me of childhood trips to the boardwalk on Coney Island – ocean breezes, blue water beneath bluer skies, cumulus clouds poised to be redefined, the blare of AM transistor radios blasting Top 40 hits competing with a Yankees game, the screech of seagulls in a feeding frenzy fighting over a fried clam – and a mandatory visit to Williams Candy Shop on Surf Avenue for a cup of pistachio/banana twist soft serve.

“Pistachio and banana?” I hear you cry. “Is that a good combination?”

Of course not.

But this is artificial pistachio paired with artificial banana. A perfect match made in food laboratory heaven; the two share a strong chemical family resemblance and thus are highly compatible.

So on that particular day, this was my favorite flavor: The Flavor of Nostalgia.

Tukhum Barak

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Here’s another treat I discovered while looking for new goodies in Little Odessa. These are Tukhum Barak, unusual egg dumplings from the Khorezm region of Uzbekistan.

About 3½ inches square, they are unique in that during construction the filling is added while still a liquid. Picture a rectangle of dough folded in half, pinched tightly on both sides leaving a gap at the top into which the filling, made primarily from eggs, milk, and flour, is poured and then carefully sealed. They can then be boiled or pan-fried.

In this case, the dough was surprisingly rich, more so than a typical raviolo. The slightly salty filling was barely eggy, sharing the spotlight with the milk and flour, with a subtle touch of sweetness.

Want to try them? Of course you do! So join me on my Little Odessa ethnojunket. (Hint: there’s one coming up on September 1!) Please check out Exploring Eastern European Food in Little Odessa and sign up to join in the fun!