Fresh! It's a word you hear a lot from Clarence Mou. "They cut it
to our specifications and we blend the cabbage fresh," said Clarence.
Produce like fresh California cabbage, green onions, fresh chicken, pork,
. all the way from China: ginger!
It's been more than thirty years since Clarence Mou, his parents, and
two brothers immigrated to the U.S. from Taiwan. They opened restaurants
in the San Francisco Bay Area, and in 1986 Clarence and his brother Alfred
founded Discovery Foods in Hayward. They market their products under the
delightful brand name "Ling Lings". "Ling Ling was actually
the panda that was brought over from China back in 1972 when the U.S.
opened up its relationship with China. "When my brother and I were
searching for an icon to represent us, what better animal than the panda,
the ambassador to the United States," said Clarence.
If you've shopped the frozen food section lately, you may recognize Ling
Lings' distinctive packaging and most popular product. Says Clarence,
"Some people call it a Chinese ravioli, others call it an Asian pierogi,
but it's basically a dough-wrapped product with fresh meats and vegetables
on the inside." We've come to know them as "dumplings"
or "potstickers" "Potstickers. The literal translation
from Chinese to English is the Chinese 'kuo tieh', a dumpling that has
been fried in an iron skillet," says Clarence.
The process to turn Ling Lings' out is really quite simple. Finely chopped
vegetables and seasonings are blended with minced chicken or pork. Meanwhile,
the dough is made and fed into a device that helps give the dumplings
an authentic hand-made look, texture, and taste.
Says Clarence, "The machine is designed to simulate what a person
would do by hand. So you take the dough and you slowly compress that dough
gently. There's a series of rollers in here that actually spin at a very
high speed, simulating somebody who's rolling a piece of dough by hand,
slowly spreading it out so it's a gentle process without stretching the
dough too far."
The dough is filled, sealed, flash frozen, packaged, inspected for any
imperfections, boxed up and shipped to grocery and warehouse stores all
over the U.S. and Canada. The dumplings cook up in a few minutes and can
be used in everything from salads to stir-fries or just on their own.
Clarence has two sons of his own and it's too soon to tell if they'll
follow in dad's footsteps. But one thing's for certain: "My father
always had the dream of us starting our own business with my brother and
I think that dream has been fulfilled for him," says Clarence.
For more information on Ling Ling's visit: www.4linglings.com