While Fly By Jing’s Sichuan Chili Crisp has been around since 2018, I discovered it earlier this year and haven’t looked back — specifically at a life without this totally delicious, mouthwatering hot oil that’s packed with flavor and the perfect amount of heat. The brand also won me over with its mission to “shift culture and reclaim the narrative on Chinese food,” as Fly By Jing founder Jing Gao tells Underscored.
So I was totally intrigued when Fly By Jing announced it was launching a new product category: ready-to-cook dumplings. It’s the company’s first foray into frozen foods, and while it initially seemed like quite a jump from sauces and condiments, Gao says the decision was really a no-brainer.
“Dumplings are one of the first dishes I learned to make with my grandmother growing up, and I’ve since lost count of how many dumplings I’ve pleated and served over the years at my restaurant and pop-up dinners,” she says. “As it happens, we’ve heard from our customers that it’s also the dish they most frequently slather with our Sichuan Chili Crisp or Zhong Sauce.”
Ahead, we dive into the dumplings, discuss whether they’re worth their price tag and test them out alongside Fly By Jing’s bestselling sauces.
If you’re anything like me, chances are your freezer is no stranger to frozen dumplings. They’re reliably delicious, comforting and super easy to whip up for any meal of the day. So what’s different about Fly By Jing’s offerings? To start, these dumplings are “meticulously made with premium all-natural ingredients, including pork, shrimp, scallop, mushrooms and more,” says Gao. While the flavors are rooted in Sichuan tradition, the dumplings are made in California and include USDA-certified pork and seafood.
Fly By Jing has launched three different choices: a pork soup dumpling; a pork, shrimp and mushroom dumpling; and a pork, shrimp and scallop dumpling. All three options promise a savory, succulent and super-easy-to-prep meal that’s bursting with flavor and umami. “I made these for myself because I couldn’t find good-quality frozen dumplings out there,” Gao says.
You can enjoy these dumplings the way you would enjoy other dumplings — whether fried, boiled, steamed or in a soup. Opt to purchase two bags of one flavor for $39.99, or get the most bang for your buck when you purchase six bags (with the option to choose two different flavors) for $107.99. If you’re used to generic grocery store dumpling prices, this might seem surprisingly steep, but the brand claims higher prices are because of the quality ingredients.
I was able to try out all three flavors and pair them with a variety of different sauces: some simple (just soy sauce) and some more complex — specifically Fly By Jing’s Sichuan Chili Crisp and Zhong Sauce. While all of the dumplings contain pork, they each had totally unique, distinct flavors that were incredibly delicious and really exciting.
The most straightforward of the offerings are the pork soup dumplings. But don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re basic. Frozen soup dumplings, which boast the novelty of soup within a dumpling, can be a bit hard to come by. In short, these were just as flavorful, delicious, savory and rich as the ones I regularly get at a most famous soup dumpling destination in New York City. I steamed these (using my Always Pan and Spruce Steamer) since it’s the recommended preparation — which should be noted, is different from the other two flavors. The only shortcoming (and perhaps it was in the preparation) was that they didn’t have quite as much soup as the dumplings I’ve had at restaurants, but there was definitely enough to enjoy the full experience that comes with eating soup dumplings. What’s so particularly exciting about these dumplings is that anyone can experience top-tier restaurant-quality soup dumplings from your home, no matter where you live.
The two other flavors — the pork, shrimp and mushroom dumplings, along with the pork, shrimp and scallop dumplings — were similar in size and preparation methods. They’re a bit smaller than most grocery store or restaurant dumplings but the same size as frozen dumplings I used to get at my local Chinese grocery store, so I was familiar with the size and shape.
I prepared both flavors boiled and fried. Boiling is the best way to taste the differences between the two flavors, and the unique components of each. Frying the dumplings makes them even more decadent, more rich and arguably more delicious — this method ended up being the fan-favorite method in my house. The pork, shrimp and scallop dumplings were incredibly rich and had such a satisfying seafood flavor. There was bounciness from the shrimp, and it was overall such a joy to eat as a seafood lover. It was a flavor that I’ve definitely never experienced in a frozen dumpling, and more like something that I would expect to have at a high-end Chinese restaurant. The pork, shrimp and mushroom dumplings were more familiar but still complex in flavor. There was a richness and earthiness to them that was so delicious and unique, and I think anyone who likes pork dumplings would really enjoy these.
And when it comes to sauces, “If these dumplings are a canvas, then dipping sauces are the paint,” Gao says. “We include recipes for a few of my favorite dipping sauces, but the sky’s the limit. … My go-to dipping sauce is a vinaigrette made with Sichuan Chili Crisp, black vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and sugar, or just our Zhong Sauce,” she says. “The dumplings are so good, though, that you can even eat them on their own.”
If you haven’t tried either of the sauces, we’d highly recommend adding one (or both) to your order of dumplings. The Sichuan Chili Crisp ($15; flybyjing.com) is delicious on its own or mixed with soy sauce, as Gao recommends. While it’s great with these dumplings, it’s also delicious in stir-frys and everyday dinners that you need to spice up. It’s also the first and only 100% all-natural Sichuan chili sauce available on the market. The Zhong Sauce ($15; flybyjing.com) is also spicy, but sweeter, a little bit funkier and super umami. It’s actually inspired by the popular, classic Chengdu street snack Zhong Dumplings, so of course it goes perfectly with these dumplings. I also love to use it on veggie and tofu to add some richness to a dish.
Finally, there’s one last item we have to give a special shout-out to: the Sichuan Salsero Set ($45; flybyjing.com). If you’re picking up one of these sauces (and particularly if you’re gifting it to someone), these spoons are incredibly useful and beautifully designed. They make it easy to scoop and drizzle the sauces whenever you’d like (no need to screw a lid on or off), and the Guamuchil wood can withstand oils without any issues, so you can just leave it in the jar. The sphere, which functions as both a lid and as the spoon’s handle, is available in rouge, jade marble or onyx rock, each with its own unique color and pattern. It’s a total game changer if you use these sauces on the daily (which you’ll want to do once you try them).
In short, these dumplings are incredibly delicious. The prioritization of high-quality ingredients is totally apparent, and the flavor of these is better than many dumplings I’ve had at restaurants. In fact, they stand up against high-end, popular dim sum restaurants in New York City. If you haven’t yet experienced dim sum restaurant-level dumplings, these are a perfect entry point. You’re getting the flavor, balance and experience of something that nobody could ever guess was sitting in your freezer.
While they aren’t cheap, you’re definitely getting what you pay for, though they may not be right if you’re looking for the cheapest frozen food option to keep on hand. (Don’t forget to use code FBJCNN15 to take 15% off your order through Dec. 31.)
As for how well the dumplings work alongside Fly By Jing’s current product line, this product just makes sense coming from the brand. From the sauces we mentioned to products like a spicy and tingly hot pot base and a 10-year aged black vinegar, everything works to make incredible-tasting food something you can access by opening your pantry (or freezer).
“We want to make flavorful, high-quality Chinese foods accessible, convenient and ready when you are,” Gao says. “Frozen dumplings are our first step in that direction, but stay tuned, as there’s much more to come.”