I’ve always been intensely fascinated by Asian food. The explosion of colours, the stir-fry of fresh ingredients, the rich, deep flavours. The attention to detail in every fold and pleat and ribbon. So, the universe sent Home Bao to my doorstep, with rainbow boxes of dumplings and potstickers!
I’ve been drooling on my keyboard for weeks after seeing images of Tina’s Home Bao creations on InstaEats Cape Town‘s Instagram page. Absolutely intrigued by the concept of purchasing frozen dumplings and potstickers online for a quick, easy and healthy dinner (because we’re all constantly searching for those!), I reached out to Tina to find out more about how this all works. A few emails back and forth, and Tina generously offered me a first-hand experience of Home Bao.
Born in Taiwan, but raised in South Africa, Tina is the heart and pulse of Home Bao. Life’s twist and turns led her to an intersection in life, and fearlessly she chose to follow her heart.
Inspired by strong family traditions, she wanted to create a legacy; something she could pursue without any regrets. Home Bao pays homage to these values and dreams, and also to her Asian heritage. A busy dietitian mom navigating all the ups and downs life presented her with, she decided to craft a range of healthy, quick and nourishing dinner alternatives. The result? An ever-expanding rainbow of dumplings and potstickers with all the trimmings on the side.
Created with today’s fast-paced life in mind and all that comes paired with our frantic rate of living, these little pockets of joy are free of colourants and preservatives, packed with meat or plant protein, easy to store and a breeze to prepare. No wonder the bottom two drawers of my freezer are now solely reserved for Home Bao‘s boxes.
From your screen to your door
Home Bao‘s website is simple to navigate and very user-friendly. Their online shop is as straightforward as boiling a pot of noodles. Just load your cart, read through their delivery/collection options and pay.
The offer “taster boxes”, which I think is a great idea. These boxes contain an assortment of the full range of dumplings or potstickers, which means you get to try all the different flavours. There’s also a page dedicated to “extras” which includes your authentic soy sauces, peanut oil, ramen noodles and other Asian cooking essentials.
I, of course, being the little hedonist I am, ordered a whole lot of food: a box each of the original and vegan dumplings and a box each of the original, vegan and beef potstickers (seeing that I’m allergic to shellfish). I also topped up my soy sauce, peanut oil, and sriracha chilli sauce supply.
I chose to collect from their home office in Rondebosch, because it’s close to my work and on my way home. They also offer two delivery options within a 20km radius of the Rondebosch Common at a small fee, or free delivery for orders over R350.
The Little Asian Kitchen
Home Bao‘s website is really a great source of information. Except for the online store and comprehensive product descriptions and a handy FAQ section, it also gives you detailed cooking instructions so that you can enjoy your Home Bao treats in the best possible way.
Armed with my rekindled enthusiasm for Asian cooking and a gorgeous bottle of wine, I set out to prepare my Home Bao feasts in The Little Kitchen.
The dumplings can be cooked either in a pot of boiling water (as per the online instructions) or you can use a bamboo steamer. I love my bamboo steamer and the convenience it offers.
I popped a selection of the dumplings into my steamer after lining the base with a bit of baking paper (here is a good tutorial on how to prepare your liners) and placed it on my pot of boiling water. I waited all of 10 minutes for the dumplings to thaw, cook and become beautifully glossy and plump.
Whilst I waited, I mixed up the fragrant flavour packet that comes complimentary with your dumplings (again, instructions on their website!). I prepared an array of side dishes for our meal earlier in the day, including cashew baby bok-choy, egg-fried rice and a spicy chilli and cabbage dish.
Surprisingly, we particularly loved the vegan dumplings. Stuffed with mushrooms, glass noodles, baby marrows and smoked tofu in a juicy veggie stock, these are the ultimate comfort bites. Dunked in the fragrant ginger-chilli-infused soy dipping sauce, it certainly hits all the right umami spots.
Later the week, when I got around to making the potstickers (again, over a bottle of chilled wine!), I experimented with a spicy beef dish, egg noodles and stir-fried vegetables to enjoy alongside.
A note on the potstickers – do yourself a favour – please read the recipe online and add the cornstarch solution to the pan as suggested. I know it sounds weird, but it makes the most amazing, crispy, chewy, deliciously golden “lace” around the bottom of the potstickers, which adds to the crunch factor! Absolutely delightful!
The potstickers are also really quick to cook and so easy to dish. Once the “lace” has browned, it simply slides out of the pan onto a plate and you can munch away! If you’re texture oriented (like me) you’ll probably enjoy the potstickers more, as they have just the right magic ratio of soft gooeyness to crisp crunch.
We loved all three flavours, but the fiery red beef potstickers were indulgently gorgeous. Paired with the crisp stirfy veg and silky noodles drenched in soy sauce and lashings of spring onion, these were our new happy place.
I live a very fast-paced life and am constantly battling to find the right balance between life and healthy eating. I’m either eating on the run, eating all the wrong things or not eating at all. I’m besotted with the idea that I can now have a quick and easy mid-week meal for about R25. In addition, it’s healthy, nutritious, quick to prepare with minimal effort or additional ingredients, super versatile and I can simply pull it out of the freezer at a whim. And most important of all: it excites me!
No messy thawing or defrosting all over your kitchen counters. No pre-preparations the night before. No planning or thinking required. Unexpected visitors? No problem. Quick Saturday afternoon snacks for your friends before the rugby? Dumplings! Had a long day and no energy to cook? A pan of potstickers will lift your mood! Having a girl’s night and want something fun to do at home? Invite Home Bao to the party.
Thank you, Home Bao, for introducing me to a new way of convenient eating, with the focus not only on ease, but more importantly, also on nutrition and health.
Disclaimer: I was given this product(s) as part of a press drop in exchange for my honest and truthful opinion and review thereof. All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are solely those of The Little Hedonist, given in good faith and in no way influenced by the company or its affiliates. All images, unless otherwise stated/credited, are also my own.