Inside a Brooklyn dumpling factory

- Dignity is important to us at Fox 5, but sometimes we set it aside to bring you the story the right way. Now Monday is National Dumpling Day, and there is a longstanding festival this Saturday, so we came to a dumpling factory to find out more.

For something we so commonly eat, what do we really know about dumplings? Do we know they're shaped like ears for a reason? Nearly 2,000 years ago during the Han Dynasty frostbitten ears was a major problem, so a medicine man packed medication with lamb and peppers, wrapped them in dough to treat villagers. Thus the shape.

The tradition lives on today in healthy times, and a major portion of dumplings in the United States comes from factory in Bushwick, Brooklyn. TMI Trading cranks out 44,000 dumplings each hour. They know their dumplings here.

An inside tour of their facility began with a safety and health protocol. Scrubbed and garbed, everybody went through a sanitizing air chamber. Once inside, we saw the dumpling process, from the leanest meats they can purchase, as it is stripped of skin and fat, it is inspected twice. Machines specially configured for their production first packed the dumplings, then sent them off onto a steaming line where temps reached 220 degrees. Once they were out, another visual inspection before they were packed and shipped off.

A batch of chicken and cabbage dumplings with a whole wheat skin is going to the annual dumpling festival on the lower east side this Saturday.  It comes with an eating contest.

This year's dumpling festival will teach people how to make their own. Since most of us don't have the space at home for this kind of production line, Nan from the TMI R & D lab showed us the old school way, beginning with the wrapper.

Taking the side with less starch, we use the chicken with Napa cabbage as filler. Circling the edge with water so it can now stick, we gently press the center together. You then fold. The final test is with TMI VP Lillian Chan.

Perhaps the true testament to the dumpling is that what started as a treatment for frostbitten ears spread to other cultures in the form of ravioli, pierogis, empanadas and more. If imitation is indeed flattery, the dumpling should be blushing.

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