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These dumplings are loaded with fresh herbs, shiitake mushroom and free range corn-fed chicken thigh.
Dumplings are one of those foods that my family has never really eaten much of, I think this is more due to me being put off by the texture and the way they look (when they are not fried). Recently our local supermarket seems to be having taste testings of dumplings quite often and just prior to receiving these dumplings for review Miss 5 had asked to give them a try and much to my surprise she loved them, and asked me to buy some for at home. On cooking the dumplings, of a competing brand I must say I was a little disappointed they didn't taste amazing so when there an opportunity to review these ones I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try another brand and i'm so glad I did.
The House of Dumplings Cheerful Chicken dumplings comes in a pack of 10 of which I would say are of a decent size and jammed packed full of fillings, no hollow centres here! The pack also contains a little tub of dipping sauce to use once the dumplings have been cooked. I was lucky enough to receive a bamboo steamer with my pack of dumplings which made cooking them a breeze and so simple to do. I cooked up all of the dumplings in one go for Miss 5 and I to enjoy for dinner one night, as I have a gas stove I decided to place some water in a fry pan rather than a pot as I knew the steamer would fit perfectly in here with no overhanging and no risk of it catching fire. I then simply brushed the steamer with oil and arranged the pack of dumplings on top of the steamer tray, popped on the lid and left the dumplings to do there thing. 8 minutes later as per instructions the dumplings were perfectly cooked, I decided to fry half of the dumplings in oil until golden and each side and left the other half as is.
Miss 5 and I tried the steamed variety first and I must say I was impressed with how fresh the dumplings were there was a beautiful flavour of chicken, mushroom and coriander, though I wasn't still to sure on the steamed texture, Miss 5 on the other hand loved them (and didn't once bring up that they contained mushrooms and she hates mushrooms), the fried variety on the other hand were sooooo good, and we both loved them the added crunch from frying the dumplings was a huge improvement and it had me wishing they'd all been cooked this way. While the sauce provided tasted quite nice it was very over powering, even if you had only used a very small amount, I preferred them without the sauce.
Overall these dumplings were great and i'd love to buy them again, the price is a little steep but then again you are paying for quality over quantity, the packaging is great and lots of fun to look at too.
I can't recall the last time I had dumplings. I don't think I have ever cooked them before either. It is not that I don't like them it is just that my family seem to be stuck in a rut of the same meals week after week. When I was offered some for review I was excited to try them and was sure my children would love the chicken ones as there was nothing there they didn't like.
I decided to have the dumplings steamed and served as a finger food so that we could all try them. I was pleasantly surprised to find how easy they were to cook. The box contain 10 beautifully shaped dumplings and a little pottle of sauce (which I wasn't expecting). Although my husband would have preferred his dumplings fried (it wasn't an option as we were out of oil) I think I risked ruining them by frying.
My girls (8 and 9 years old) didn't like the dumplings,probably because they were so different to what they were used to. My husband ate a couple but didn't say anything about them. I found them to be quite bland in taste by themselves. When I had them with the sauce provided, the sauce overpowered the flavour of the dumplings. These chicken dumplings obviously weren't the best fit for our family but I'm sure others with more refined palates will love them.
I was pretty excited to try these dumplings, I love them but they are something I don't buy that often thanks to fussy kids. My partner and I took the chance to try them out while the kids weren't around. The first thing that impressed me actually was the packing, I like that the box is fully recyclable and easy to fold down and put in the paper recycling. Reading the packing there are some cute humorous little points such as the instructions to make sure the dumplings aren't touching as they "have personal space issues". When you fold out the box you also discover a small saying (I'll leave the surprise of what it is!)
I also like to see that they are free range meats and they are handmade which is also very appealing. Unfortunately, this is also reflected in the price of basically $20 a box!! I can fully understand what you are paying for but ouch! Particularly as the box is classed as one serve.
I steamed them up in a bamboo steamer, they only took 8 minutes and then I fried them briefly in a frying pan to "brown" them a little. The chicken was nice and I could really taste the coriander. I tried the accompanying chilli and ginger dipping sauce but as I'm not really a fan of ginger I didn't really like it so used my own sweet chilli sauce instead. I have to be honest and say that it was only the inclusion of the coriander that really made me taste the difference between the chicken and the pork that we also cooked up.
Over all, I did really like them even though it wasn't an obvious chicken taste to me. They were a really nice meal and were super easy to cook up, with a salad, it was an easy meal on a busy weeknight. The only reason why it's doubtful I'd buy these in the future is the price, given our budget and how many packs we need to feed two of us, it's just not in the budget.
My issue with doing reviews is I have to share with my family all the time and I hardly ever just get to experience the item by myself. Today I finished work early and instead of going out and treating myself with a meal I thought I would treat myself, alone with Dumplings. I have really regretted having to share these Dumplings with my girls and my husband as I find I am really enjoying them and then they are gone.
Cooking them is a breeze - put the steamer lined with cooking paper into a frying pan with some water and that is it, could not be easier. It says to do for eight to ten minutes so I opted for nine and it was cooked to perfection it was the perfect time for me to put all of the groceries away, pour myself a drink and get ready for lunch. I dished the dumplings up with the carton of sauce that is provided and as I was so eager I forgot to take a picture.
I sat down and enjoyed the first two or three, loving the fact that these were also not slimy, that they tasted just right. I was, however, not that keen on the sauce, but really it did not matter as they taste perfectly fine without the sauce. Now, I have to say that I really did enjoy them, but, I found not as much as the Full House or the Prancing Pork. I am really curious if the same result would happen if I got to eat them all by myself without sharing any of the ten dumplings? I ended up leaving the last two on the plate and will let my husband try them when he gets home. As with the other two flavours, I do find it to be rather expensive but in saying that we had some other dumplings last week and I could not even finish the first bite so we are dealing with quality here and its something that I am tempted to have again.
We decided to try the chicken version of these dumplings when the children were at home for dinner as it is so often the kids who decide what will go into the shopping basket - life is a lot easier when the littlies don't turn their noses up at the food. Our two love dumplings anyway, so that gave us a head start, but none of us had tried this brand before so we were looking forward to the experience. There was sufficient in the packet for two apiece, so we had them as an entree.
While they were steaming, we checked out the information on the box. My daughter likes to buy natural products where possible, so she was pleased to find that the contents measured up to expectations. The chicken is free range and all of the ingredients are MSG free. Mr Eight looked at the information as well, and warned me that I should check that the steaming dumplings were not touching because they have problems with personal space!
We were impressed with the packaging because it is fully recyclable - the food is sealed inside an inner wrapper so the cardboard box stays clean for putting out with the normal household paper collection. Mr Eight also spotted a sticker on the side of the box and informed us that this variety had been a finalist in the 2016 NZ Food Awards; then, on further investigation, he found he should choose to be a tiger rather than a sheep. I am not sure why that last statement was included, but it made him laugh!
In accordance with the cooking instructions, we browned the dumplings in a pan - taking care to keep them on a low heat in order to avoid the dreaded outcome of "charcoal and disappointment". Then came the taste time. As was to be expected, there was a range of comments. Miss Six thought they were a bit spicy, but she was the only one - the rest of us thought they were mild but the chicken taste was definitely there. My daughter liked the appearance of the inside of each dumpling as she thought the greenery (fresh chives and coriander) made the chicken look more interesting. We all tried one dumpling on its own then one with the dipping sauce that came with the packet.
All five of us liked them both ways although the children preferred theirs without the sauce - they found it too strong, and Miss Six said she could not taste the chicken. In fact, she wiped her sauce off again and ate her second dumpling without any! Mr Eight said the sauce was ok but he would probably prefer them without it. The adults liked them both ways, and did not find the sauce overly spicy as we had feared. There was certainly more than enough; we still had half a pottle left so that was put into the fridge to use with something else.
Probably the biggest barrier to our buying them again would be the cost. As a main, you would need a box per person and that is quite a challenge when you have a couple of hungry children to feed. For one or two people as a special treat, however, they would be a delicious addition to a fancy dinner and could be budgeted for. My daughter and I thought we might be sneaky and get some just for us one day when their father has taken the children out somewhere!
Wanting to eat lighter without sacrificing flavour, I have started to explore some of the other cultural dishes that I never really got into when I was younger. The opportunity to try something this tasty-sounding was one I was happy to take up.
The instructions state that you should steam them for 8 minutes +/- to fully cook them, and then you have the option of giving them a fry to add some texture, so I decided I would go down this track too. I also planned to try giving them a quick deep-fry as well. Using a bamboo steamer sitting over a pot of boiling water, I steamed the first batch for about seven and a half minutes, then took the pot off the element and let the last of the heat and steam finish them off while the frying pan was getting up to heat.
I spotted a head of garlic on the herb shelf and crushed a few bulbs into the butter moments before popping the now-fully steamed dumplings in as well. I wasn't sure how long to fry them for, so I staggered them so that I could see how much they differed over a range of cooking times. I found 2 minutes to be about right for my tastes.
I also heated up a small pot of rice bran oil and popped a couple of steamed dumplings in for about 90 seconds until they floated, then drained them off. They looked rather hard-done-by, so I left them out of the photograph.
The fried dumplings were delightful. I found the tastes a little subtle for my preferences, but then I do like stronger flavours in such dishes. With that in mind, I set aside the supplied tub of "Mum's Sauce" and whipped up one of my own - stronger, thicker and plenty of it. I mixed equal parts of mustard, sweet chilli sauce and lite mayonnaise, with some freshly ground black pepper stirred through. For me, this set off the chicken beautifully, but many would find it quite a dominant and drowning flavour.
Overall, I found the dumplings to be simply stunning. So quick and easy to prepare, tolerant of a bit of customisation, and quite the visual dish. Serve with chopsticks for the brave, or a fork, and enjoy a really tasty alternative. I would serve this with a small side-salad of rocket and lettuce with some mung bean sprouts and carrot shavings. I also want to comment on the box - it's visually stunning, stands out from the competitors, and if you are good about recycling, there's a cute "saying" hidden away!
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