Dumplings are dangerous.
Think about it. When’s the last time you’ve eaten only one pot sticker? We’re not complaining, though. In the Hudson Valley, dumpling options abound nearly as often as our cravings for them, popping up as pan-fried pockets, origami-ed shumai, and broth-filled soup pouches. Inside the delicate dough folds, world flavors pack an incredible punch — a welcome surprise from such small bites.
Hungry yet? Here’s the lowdown on 11 different, delicious varieties and the Valley restaurants that serve them up best. Eat your way through our local list, then tag us @HudsonValleyMag on Instagram with your delicious dumpling pictures.
Origin Galicia, Spain
Main ingredient Ground meat (chicken, beef, pork) or cheese
The biggest (and crispiest) dumpling in our glossary, empanadas are adored in Spain and Portugal, as well as in South America, Latin America, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. There are even versions of empanadas in Indonesia and the Philippines, following colonization in the 1500s. This hand pie is derived from the Spanish verb “empanar,” which means “to coat with bread.” Empanadas are made with a thick dough and are filled with meat and/or cheese, and then baked or fried. In European regions of Catalan, Italy, and France, seafood is a popular empanada ingredient. Galician and Portuguese empanadas are more interesting—with fillings like tuna, chorizo, and pork.
Order here 52 Main, Millerton; Flores Food Truck; Wappingers Falls; Los Hornitos Bakery, Wappingers Falls; Somni, Monroe; The Cube Inn, Tarrytown
Main ingredients Ground pork, nira chives, ginger
The gyoza is directly connected to jiaozi—and happens to be the Japanese pronunciation of it, too. During World War II, Japanese soldiers first tasted the dumplings at military bases in China. When they returned, the soldiers desperately wanted to experience the flavors of jiaozi at home. Gyoza are mostly stuffed with pork and ginger, but vegetarian renditions featuring green dough made from spinach are widely available. Some gyoza even have less conventional ingredients like mushroom, cheese, shrimp, or shiso (perilla) leaf. Gyoza is especially beloved in the cities of Utsunomiya in Tochigi Prefecture and Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture, which annually compete for the title of “city with the most gyoza consumption.” Like jiaozi, gyoza are ear shaped and usually pan-fried.
Order here Cho Cho San Noodle House, Nanuet; Hokkaido, New Paltz; Okaeri Sushi Hibachi, Monroe; Tuxedo Sushi, Tuxedo
Origin Guangzhou, China
Main ingredient Shrimp
There’s something otherworldly about har gow, so much so it’s considered one of the Four Heavenly Kings of Cantonese cuisine (along with shumai, char siu bao, and egg tarts). The dumpling is best known for its translucent dough—which appears almost crystal-like—and a delicate pink hue from the shrimp filling. “Har gow” translates to “wedding gown” in Cantonese, as its purse-like shape and color resembles traditional dresses worn in China. Its tender dough, made from wheat starch and tapioca flour, lets the shrimp shine in both presentation and flavor.
Order here Aberdeen Seafood and Dim Sum, White Plains; Hong Kong Bakery & Bistro, Colonie; Yobo, Newburgh
Origin Northern Song Dynasty, China
Main ingredients Minced protein (pork, tofu, shrimp, fish) or vegetables
Possibly the most iconic and common form of dumpling, the jiaozi has been credited as the inspiration for many of the dumplings on our list. According to legend, a Chinese physician named Zhang Zhongjian invented the jiaozi during a brutal winter to help nourish friends and family suffering from frostbite, especially around their ears. Zhongjian combined lamb, black pepper, and medicinal herbs and tucked them into crescent-shaped dough. The dumplings were originally called “jiao ‘er,” meaning “tender ears” for their shape and healing properties. Jiaozi are extremely flexible in cooking style, and can be boiled, steamed, pan fried, deep fried, or served in soup. (In the U.S., jiaozi are often called potstickers.)
Order here Kanda House Thai Kitchen, Cornwall; Mei’s Handmade Dumplings, Hudson; Palace Dumplings, Wappingers Falls; Twisted Soul, Poughkeepsie
Origin The country of Georgia
Main ingredient Spiced meat (beef, pork, lamb) or cheese, potato, mushrooms
Mongolia’s dumpling tour didn’t stop only in Korea (read below)—they landed in the eastern European country of Georgia, too. The khinkali is a soup dumpling’s older cousin; warm water or broth is added to the spiced meat, making it extremely juicy. When eating a khinkali, you’ll need to suck out the juice before taking a bite or it will burst! It’s denser than other dumpling varieties and has a signature top, a twisted knob of pleated dough. In traditional settings, the top is discarded (rather than eaten) and helps people keep track of many khinkali they’ve eaten. The dumpling is best enjoyed plain or tossed in ground black pepper.
Order here Badageoni, Mount Kisco
Origin Goryeo Dynasty, Korea
Main ingredient Ground pork, kimchi, Napa cabbage
In the 14th century, Yuan Mongolians traveled south to Korea, and brought their dumplings along with them. The Goryeo Dynasty practiced Buddhism, so early recipes first lacked meat, though bans on consuming meat became laxer over time. For decades, mandu were only eaten by the Korean royal court before they became popular throughout the nation. Like most dumpling names, mandu is a cognate—it shares a similar name with Turkish or Uzbek manti, Afghan mantoo, and Uyghur manta. They’re distinct in shape, with circular molds and hollow middles—this makes it easy for steaming, boiling, or pan frying. Pork and kimchi mandu are widely consumed at markets and restaurants.
Order here Go Ba Woo Kalbi, Tappan; Korpot, Poughkeepsie; Seoul Kitchen, Newburgh; Sook House Restaurant, Ellenville; Toro, Fishkill
Main ingredient Spiced meat (lamb, beef) or pumpkin, chickpeas
The oldest manti recipe dates to a 15th-century cookbook from the Ottoman Empire; it was filled with lamb, crushed chickpeas, cinnamon, and vinegar and then steamed in a basket. Today, manti is cooked in Turkey, Central Asia, and post-Soviet countries using a mantovarka (meaning manti cooker/pot). The mantovarka is a multi-level steamer, making it perfect for restaurants with lines out the door. Manti are almost always topped with sumac and served with a garlicky yogurt sauce.
Order here Mazadar Mediterranean Kitchen, Colonie; The Turk, Mount Kisco
Origin Nepal and Tibet
Main ingredient Ground meat (pork, chicken, goat, buffalo, yak) or finely chopped vegetables (cabbage or carrot)
In Chinese, momo simply means plain, unfilled “steamed buns.” When the momo spread to Nepal, Tibet, and even India, the name stuck—but buns were stuffed with regional meats and vegetables. Momos were first filled with yak meat in Tibet, as it was extremely hard to find veggies at the base of the Himalayas. As momo recipes traveled west into India, plant-based renditions were quickly created to feed the population of vegetarian Hindus. They’re usually steamed and have exquisite, complex folds, adding to its texture and overall eating experience.
Order here Jewel of Himalaya, Yorktown Heights; Momo Asian Fusion, Valley Cottage; Momo Valley, Beacon
Main ingredient Potato, meat, cheese
Did you know the Hudson Valley is a part of the “Pierogi Pocket?” Mrs. T’s, a famed pierogi manufacturer based in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania, reports that over 68 percent of pierogis are consumed in this region alone, which includes New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and the cities of Chicago and Detroit. Unlike its Asian cousins, this Polish dumpling is typically filled with potatoes, cheese, sauerkraut, or ground meat. Originally considered peasant food and typically consumed while in mourning or served at wakes, pierogis are an anytime treat. Europeans often top savory pierogis with sour cream and fried onions. Dessert pierogis are more of a delicacy and are hard to find in the Valley; sweet versions have fruit fillings of apple, plum, cherry, strawberry, blueberry, and even jam.
Order here Gus’s Restaurant and Tavern, New Windsor; Helena’s Specialty Pierogis, Kerhonkson; Krupa Bros. Pierogi Co., Kingston; New York Restaurant, Catskill; Northwood Inn, Carmel
Origin Guangzhou, China or Hohhot, Inner Mongolia
Main ingredient ground pork and shrimp
This vase-shaped dumpling joins the har gow as one of the Four Heavenly Kings. Unlike most dumplings, which are completely wrapped by dough, shumai filling peeks out from the top, often layered with peas and crab roe. Regional varieties go beyond pork and shrimp; the paper-thin wrappers can be stuffed with ginger, shiitake and wood ear mushrooms, scallions, and water chestnuts. Shumai translates to “burn-sell,” and was originally sold as a snack that paired with Mongolian milk tea on the Silk Road.
Order here Hana Sushi, Red Hook; Isamu, Beacon; Miso, Kingston; Mizu Sushi, Hyde Park; Momiji, Rhinebeck; Plum House Restaurant, Monroe
Origin Changzhou, China
Main ingredient Pork
Colloquially known as the acronym XLB, soup dumplings have taken the world—and probably your Instagram feed—by storm. Dumplings and soup are a perfect pair, but when the soup is literally in the dough, it’s a tastebud explosion. XLB are usually steamed in bamboo baskets, called “xiaolong,” and date back to 19th-century Shanghai. They didn’t dominate the globe until revered Taiwanese restaurant Din Tai Fung opened in the 1970s. You may be wondering: How does the soup get into the dumpling? The meat filling is mixed with aspic, a savory gelatin made with stock; when steamed, the gelatin liquifies. The best way to tackle a XLB is by placing it on spoon, biting the tip, and then sucking the soup from the opening. (Some XLBs are made so big that you can drink the broth with a straw!) In 2006, Shanghai listed them as a protected national treasure.
Order here Ala Shanghai Chinese Cuisine, Latham; O’Mandarin, Hartsdale; Taiwan Noodle, Albany REVIEW
Though many dumplings are perfect eaten plain, certain varieties (such as jiaozi, gyoza, and momos) are elevated when served with sauce. Keep these on hand for your next dumping take-out:
Related: Where to Get Ridiculously Good Ramen in the Hudson Valley