Final Cookbook Preview – Freezer dumpling ravioli

Final Cookbook Preview – Freezer dumpling ravioli


These things don’t involve a lot of thinking and rationalizing; they aren’t even bothered by common decency or responsibilities. I eat them free of my own judgment

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This will be the last, but not least, recipe preview from our cookbook – The Art of Escapism Cooking that is coming out on Oct 15th!

It is one of the seven recipes in a little chapter I call, The Shit I Eat When I’m By Myself, a continuation of course, of our recipe category here under the same title in this blog.  I felt the need to create this category because it answers both the questions of why I cook, and why I eat.  As the chapter intro in the book sums it up:

“I don’t cook for myself.  Or at least, not the way it looks on my blog or in the rest of this book outside this section. I don’t know how it reflects on me as someone who’s selling recipes, but in my view, cooking and eating are two very different, entirely separate areas of investigation. Cooking, to me, is about curiosity, the insatiable need to know beyond necessity, the compulsion in the process of unwrapping a question, rephrasing it again, moving on to the next, the hunt.  Eating is about comfort.  I rarely find enthusiasm in repeating the same recipes, answering the same questions. But I can eat the same things over and over again. These things don’t involve a lot of thinking and rationalizing; they aren’t even bothered by common decency or responsibilities. I eat them free of my own judgment.”

I also want to thank Sam Sifton from New York Times for mentioning this recipe in his newsletter.  And please remember to pre-order our cookbook!  Now here’s how to make it:



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Once upon a time in a high school somewhere in Vancouver, there lived a school cafeteria that sucked. The word cafeteria itself was a gross exaggeration; human-operated vending machine would have been more appropriate. Because, aside from soda and gum, the cafeteria sold one thing and one thing only—reheated canned ravioli in tomato sauce. To this day I can’t quite decide whether it’s because it was the only hot dish available or because it was actually delicious, but it holds a small, nonetheless lasting spot in my heart. If this recipe appears somewhat crude to your liking, consider it an upgrade from my public school offering.

A quick note on Asian freezer dumplings: their convenience and availability are as vital to maintaining social stability and domestic peace as delivery pizzas are in the United States. They are almost always cooked in boiling water, but this one-pot method lets the dumplings absorb the flavors from the sauce as it reduces, and in reverse, helps the sauce thicken as well. That one teaspoon of sugar is the key to turning a grown-up, respectable tomato sauce into the childish version that we all secretly crave. Don’t let go of it.

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Final Cookbook Preview – Freezer dumpling ravioli


  • One 14-ounce (400 mL) can of peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 garlic clove, thinly shaved
  • Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Pinch of chile flakes
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar
  • 12 pork freezer dumplings of your choice, unthawed
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Canned plum tomatoes are usually submerged in some kind of tomato water/juice. If your tomato juice from the can is nice and thick, great, but if it’s very watery, pour out a couple of tablespoons. I like to use an immersion blender to make a smooth puree of the tomatoes, but you can crush them with your hands as well.
  2. In a small pot over medium-high heat, combine the olive oil, garlic, thyme, and chile flakes and simmer, stirring, until the edges of the garlic just start to barely brown. Add the pureed tomatoes, fish sauce, and brown sugar and cook for 5 minutes, until reduced slightly. Add the dumplings, turn the heat to medium, and cook, maintaining a gentle simmer and stirring frequently to keep the dumplings from sticking to the pan, until the sauce has reduced to a thick tomato sauce consistency.
  3. Stir in the cream, then serve with lots of Parmesan and dashes of extra-virgin olive oil.
  • Pamela

    October 4, 2019 at 7:07 PM Reply

    There are all kinds of frozen gyoza/餃子 in Japan. The sort that are supposed to be fried. To a lesser degree we might even be able to find Sui-gyoza/水餃子, the sort that are supposed to be boiled. And 包子/Paozu in Japanese/Baozi – the sort to be steamed. Etc. Etc. I have never, never, never, never, never thought of cooking them with a tomato sauce the way that you have described above. Pure genius! I bow down and grovel at your feet. You have again ripped a hole in my culinary horizons. It is in tatters! I can’t wait to try this.

    • gralan

      October 5, 2019 at 4:01 AM Reply

      preach it Pamela! We are a holey choir, eh?

    • Jessie

      January 24, 2020 at 9:28 AM Reply

      I have no idea what Christian’s problem is. I made this and loved it. Reheats wonderfully for work lunches too.

      I used Trader Joe’s frozen pork gyoza (the whole bag) and a full 28 oz can of plum tomatoes because I like lots of extra tomato sauce. I didn’t bother to puree or even crush before adding — just wooden-spooned them in the pot, Marcella Hazan style. Skipped the thyme and the cream as I didn’t have them. The fish sauce made the dish IMO.

  • John Klarer

    October 4, 2019 at 11:00 PM Reply

    I’ve been following you for a long time congratulations on your new cookbook! How do I order one?! Thank you. JK

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      October 10, 2019 at 3:52 AM Reply

      John, so sorry for the late reply! You can order the book on amazon, apple book or Barnes and Nobel!

  • gralan

    October 5, 2019 at 3:58 AM Reply

    I think I’m going to enjoy eating this in private, out loud. hahaha Thank you so very much.

  • Stephanie

    October 9, 2019 at 8:08 PM Reply

    I’ve been following your writing / cooking with glee for years. I pre-ordered your book in June and have been waiting OH so impatiently and these tidbits are keeping me going. Thank you! I know what ALL of my dearest friends are getting for Christmas this year: Your book! I have battled agoraphobia since childhood and have travelled into the nearest larger city JUST to track down the proper ingredients for many of your dishes so tempting have they been, and I am grateful to you. This is just one more I shall enjoy.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      October 10, 2019 at 3:51 AM Reply

      Stephanie, aw thank you so much for your support!! The book is coming soon! The wait is over :)

  • Christian Croisetiere

    October 10, 2019 at 11:24 AM Reply

    I don’t understand where this recipe is coming from? Are you pressured in someway for your new book? I love all you other recipes, or if you want it to make it simple, there is other ways. This is nothing like you have done before– it just take taste like a normal Italian ravioli in red sauce made with no preparation. I am totally unimpressed with this and already I have been making notes on improving the taste. Stick to classic Italian food if you want to make this, there is only disappointment in this recipe.

    I am not sure if I should pre-order this book.

    • mandy@ladyandpups

      October 11, 2019 at 1:26 PM Reply

      Christian, sorry you didn’t like the recipe.

      • Kathy Wills

        November 17, 2019 at 8:11 AM Reply

        This has got to be the strangest book… And here I thought I was the only one that ate wierd things together. This recipe is one I will have to try on my really picky 10yr old g’son for sure. This recipe seems perfect for hiding all kinds of pulverized steamed veg in the sauce with the added dumpling that he won’t even notice the subterfuge I’m sure. I’ve been hiding sauteed spinach cauliflower zucchini carrots and even beets all together in his meatballs hamburger patties and stuffed rigatoni. The condiment section of your book will definitely take me some time to get through experimenting. Condiments are my cooking super power.

  • Jill Southworth

    October 15, 2019 at 4:43 AM Reply

    So yummy… just like you implied, upmarket cafeteria ravioli!
    My family loved it.
    Can’t wait for the book.
    Good job!

  • RZollander

    October 31, 2019 at 8:02 PM Reply

    Just bought the book. So happy for you Mandy – your blog is awesome and you deserve all the accolades.

  • Julia

    November 6, 2019 at 9:35 AM Reply

    I really appreciated this recipe in your cookbook. Thank you for including single serving easy recipes along with all of the other gorgeousness.

  • Holl

    January 22, 2020 at 6:39 AM Reply

    Making this now! Love the fish sauce as the salty part- it’s perfect for a January Tuesday! Love the innovation with everyday things – sometimes that’s just what our day calls for :)

  • Noryn

    November 3, 2020 at 3:13 AM Reply

    Reading this recipe has reignited some of my early memories eating these canned ravioli… Never thought I could use this bag of emergency guilty frozen dumplings I now indulge on as an adult to reenact one of the most sinful-looking food pleasures I had as a kid. Your blog is a delightful discovery in these hard times, thank you so much. Cheers from France.

  • Nelery

    November 8, 2021 at 8:04 PM Reply

    If not cooking right away, freeze the dumplings on the baking sheet. Make sure none of the dumplings are touching, or they will stick together. Once frozen solid, portion the dumplings into freezer containers and freeze for up to three months. Chinese dumplings, also called Jiaozi, typically consist of ground meat or vegetable filling wrapped into a thinly rolled piece of dough, which is one of the most essential and traditional dishes in China. Chinese dumplings may be round or crescent-shaped,
    boiled or pan-fried.

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