Cooking with Carson: Trader Joe’s Pork Shu Mai

Perfect on their own or paired with rice or noodles



Easy to make, easier to eat

CARSON HOLLAND, Evergreen columnist

Despite the title of this column, sometimes the last thing that I want to do is cook.

The allure of fast food is strong, and I feel at times that I need to meet in the middle: the joys of frozen meals. Quick, usually pretty good, and accessible. The perfect combination for a college student who either doesn’t want to cook or just wants some quick food between classes or homework they are procrastinating on.

While I am always a big fan of the classics — a hot pocket, chicken nuggets — I have found that the food from Trader Joe’s is supreme. While Pullman does not have its own store, Spokane is just a quick hop away, and after a weekend home, it’s a great place to stock up.

Let me introduce you to the Pork Shu Mai. 

Shu Mai is a type of traditional Chinese dumpling, an iconic staple in the southern provinces of Guangdong and Guangxi, along with other scattered areas in East Asia and Southeast Asia. I am a simple guy; almost with no exception, dumplings are the superior food. And the Shu Mai, or Shumai, is no different.

I cannot speak to the authenticity of the Trader Joe’s version, but the flavor is great. Whether you cook them in the microwave or a steamer, the dumplings manage to stay moist and flavorful.

While I would not recommend it, the Shu Mai can be eaten on its own, with a nice ginger and rich pork flavor. I would recommend serving it alongside some sauce and rice to get the full experience.

Trader Joe’s hit a big win with these pork dumplings, and if you have the opportunity, you should grab a handful. This frozen meal hits all the highlights of being easy to make and even easier to eat, adding some delicious flavor without having to go through hours of cooking. When you are not feeling up to cooking on a day, choose Trader Joe’s Pork Shu Mai instead. 

Hope you enjoy it!

Cooking the Shu Mai

  • Serving Size: 5 dumplings (2 servings per box)
  • Place dumplings in a bowl
  • Cover with a damp paper towel and microwave on high for three minutes or until hot


  • To steam, fill a steamer with water and bring to boil
  • Steam for 12 minutes or until hot


  • A personal favorite is to air fry the dumplings
  • Rinse Shu Mai in warm water 
  • Place in air fryer and turn to around 375 or 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Cook for 2–3 minutes or until crispy 

Dishes/Sides to Prepare Shu Mai With

  • Long noodles with a thick sauce would be delicious with the Shu Mai
  • White or brown rice, depending on preference, is a perfect pairing
  • Please, please, please include a sauce with it


If there is a particular frozen food that you can’t get enough of, share it using the hashtag #cookingwithcarson