I Lived Off Trader Joe’s Pork Gyoza When I Was 22 and on a Tiny Budget

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Eight years ago, when I had just moved to New York for my first job and had a minuscule budget for groceries, I would walk three miles every Sunday to the Trader Joe’s in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, in search of sustenance and a way to save on subway fare.

It was here in the cramped-yet-still-manageable freezer aisle (Cauliflower Gnocchi had not yet been invented in 2012) that I found solace in Mr. Joe’s Pork Gyoza Potstickers. For $2.99, I got a bag of 20 dumplings that were always dependably salty and juicy, stuffed with pork and cabbage and seasoned with green onion, garlic, and ginger. They got me through countless meals during my twenties, and over the years, I perfected my pan-frying method, fanning out the dumplings in a nonstick skillet with a couple tablespoons of water and a small slick of oil, then covering them with a lid so they would steam-fry over medium-high heat until the bottoms were browned and crisp. Dipped in a mix of soy sauce and sweet rice vinegar, they were my cure-all for colds, hangovers, break-ups, days playing hooky from the job I hated so much.

A bag full of porky, juicy goodness
A bag full of porky, juicy goodness
Photo by Emma Fishman

I stopped making my six-mile round trip to Trader Joe’s years ago, and these days I’m more likely to make my own dumplings. But the other week I passed by the TJ’s in Union Square and decided to pop in on a whim. While everyone else was elbowing each other over the last bags of—what else?—Cauliflower Gnocchi, I made out with a couple of bags of frozen gyoza. I took them home, fried them until crisp, dipped them in soy sauce and vinegar—and they were every bit as delicious as I remembered.

Get them: Trader Joe’s stores nationwide

Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit