My friend Lolo sent over a tweet that had been posted the other day that some might consider inflammatory. Whether or not you agree, it’s an important discussion that we should all have an opinion on, but you should know that my opinion is correct. First, here’s the tweet – and it’s a pretty genius tweet – by Lauren L Walker:
if you were to rank all dumplings globally i don't think pierogis even crack the top 40. you basically have to scale your rankings down to just europe and north america for them to even enter the conversation. i'm glad you at least tried, poland— Lauren L Walker (@ActNormalOrElse) April 14, 2020
I think “top 40” is a little aggressive. Pierogi are nowhere near my top 5 but they could, if they’re the right kind, and if they’re done right, maybe, mayyyyybe, crack the top 10. With conditions. I come to this position from the perspective of a Chinese girl who married a Polish dude, so I know my way around a dumpling. In my culture, we’re basically christened by dumplings. I’ve eaten pierogi in several different towns in Poland. I’ve had commercial pierogi and I’ve had bespoke pierogi. I’ve eaten pierogi out of a bag and I’ve eaten them homemade by my Polish mother-in-law who’s been making pierogi since she was a child. Jacek and I once hosted a “Potstickers (‘wor teep’ in Cantonese ) vs Pierogi” party at our place during the World Cup in 2014 – it was China vs Poland. I prepared the potstickers, Jacek made pierogi, our guests kept eating, and then they were asked to vote. Please. It wasn’t even close. China was the champion.
That said, when pierogi (with the proper filling) are fried with onions, and then topped with sour cream, they’re f-cking good. They could, I think, mount a challenge to the top 10. But it all comes down to that filling. Because for some reason, sometimes pierogi come with sour cherries and cheese and this is a criminal offence. For almost 20 years, Jacek has been trying to convince me that this is an acceptable way to serve a dumpling, he eats sour cherry pierogi with so much joy, and these are the moments when I have seriously questioned my life choices. The fruit pierogi are disgusting.
So if it’s definitely NOT pierogi, what IS the best dumpling? I’m gonna have to go with a dumpling of Cantonese origin (also my origin) – and it’s a classic: har gow. When the wrap is translucent and you can see the pinkness of the shrimp inside and then you bite in to release the steam and lightly feel the crunch of the bamboo shoots, God, to have conceived of this is, like, an outstanding human achievement, non? Har gow also works without dip. It is perfect on its own. I mean, it’s still perfect when you want to lightly drizzle a little XO sauce on top but by no means is this a necessary step.
If you’ve never heard of XO sauce, OMG, I’m excited for you. When we’re all out of lockdown, find yourself some XO sauce and be transformed. But that’s another debate…
Yours in gossip,