I have to admit that it took me 31 years to try a dumpling. I have been keeping a kosher diet for almost 18 years and that has restricted my ability to eat dumplings out at restaurants because they usually contain some type of meat. I have never been able to find a vegetarian version. You see, keeping a kosher diet sets limits to what I can eat, but more importantly to me, it makes me think about what I am eating on a daily basis. In today’s world of genetically modified foods, fast food, and organic vs. non-organic, I think this is a great practice to abide by. You do not have to be kosher in order to think about the food you are eating but we should all be conscious about the substances we are putting into our bodies. I remember reading somewhere or hearing someone say how our bodies are holy temples we rent for an extended period of time, and in thinking about this what are the objects and rituals most religions usually practice at a temple? Obviously the bring in the most beautiful, special, and fancy objects so why would we not do that with our own bodies? A and I talk about the food we eat and how to be more conscious about it all the time. I think that in today’s world is very important to teach our children as well as for us to be conscious about what we bring into our bodies, because “you are what you eat.”
Back to the dumplings. The only dumplings I have ever had are my mom’s Varenikes which I made in August 2010 as part of one of The Daring Kitchen’s challenge we had back then. I kinda miss those challenges as it forced us to cook differently as well as post on a regular basis. I loved the dumplings and I also loved the fact that they are pretty easy to make once you have the right ingredients which is vegetables, the dumpling wrappers, and the sauce ingredients. The first time we had these we really did not enjoy the dumpling dipping sauce (which is quite universal) and while having lunch out with my mom the next day, she ordered a salad with a spicy peanut sauce which inspired me to make the sauce and home to eat with the leftover dumplings.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Yield: about 25
This is a very flexible recipe,so if you do not have the exact ingredient list don’t worry. Edamame beans can be fava or peas, and chives can be substituted for scallions or garlic chives. Smitten Kitchen recommends that if you do not like tofu, you can substitute for cellophane noodles, which sound like a lot of fun! I also halved her recipe as it was only two of us eating and we still had leftovers! The ingredients list is a bit long and the instructions are long too, but trust me when I say that this recipe is pretty simple.
1 1/2 to two cups chopped spring vegetables (such as asparagus, edamame, favas, peas, lima beans or more)
1 tablespoon canola cooking oil (or any oil of your preference)
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/4 cup of cilantro
1 clove garlic, peeled minced (when using garlic chives, omit)
1/2 cup of firm tofu, chopped small (see above alternative)
1/4 cup garlic or regular chives
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
25 round dumpling wrappers
Scallion dipping sauce
2 to 3 scallions (or, remainder of bundle used for dumplings), thinly sliced (use some in sauce, some for garnish)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon regular or spicy toasted sesame oil
Spicy Peanut sauce (alternative)
3/4 cup natural-style creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice (from about 1 1/2 medium limes)
4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons chile-garlic paste1 medium garlic clove, mashed to a paste
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 to 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup water
- Preparing vegetables: If using asparagus, cut off tough ends and sliced stalks into 1/2-inch segments. Defrost the edamame if using frozen and set aside.
- Make the filling: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the scallions, ginger and garlic. Cook for about one minute, and then add vegetables in the order of the time they need to cook until crisp-tender. Do not over cook. Thea asparagus needs about 4 minutes, and the edamame 2 to 3 minutes. Add tofu and chives and cook just until chives wilt, about 1 minute more. Season with salt and transfer to a fine-mesh colander too drain off any excess liquid while it is cooling.
- If mixture is still on the chunky side, you can choose to chop it finely on a cutting board or pulse it a few times in a food processor. Don’t puree it as you want to recognize the vegetables you are eating.
- Adjust seasonings if needed and mix with sesame oil.
- Assemble dumplings: Line one baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly oil it. Mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl as this will act as your “glue.” If you do not have any cornstarch, no need to worry, most dumpling wrappers come dusted with a little starch, so you’ll be okay to skip it.
- Remove first wrapper from package and put it on a plate; place a damp towel or piece of plastic wrap over the unused ones to keep them from drying out.
- Brush wrapper with cornstarch-water mixture and place about 1 to 2 teaspoons filling in the center. Fold the wrapper in half over the filling, sealing the center edge shut. Make a few small pleats down each sides to seal in the rest of the filling, while trying to press out as much air as possible and place the dumpling on the tray. When you’re all done, check to make sure the dumplings are completely sealed.
- You can now freeze the dumplings on their trays and transfer them to a freezer bag once frozen or cook them right away. We had leftovers and reheated them by steaming them.
- Make dipping sauce: Mix ingredients and adjust levels to taste. For a sweeter sauce, add a 1/2 teaspoon honey or brown sugar.
- Make the peanut sauce: Whisk all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl. Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to use. Whisk again before serving.
- Cooking dumplings: Heat a large skillet (preferably non-stick) over medium-high heat. Once hot, add and heat the oil too. Once its hot, arrange the dumplings in a single layer and cook until browned at the bottom (~ about 1 minute for fresh ones and up to 5 minutes for frozen ones). Add the 1/4 cup of water and put a lid on the pot and cook dumplings for 2 to 3 minutes more. This will steam and cook the insides and the rest of the dumpling wrap. Remove lid and simmer until any remaining water has cooked off.
- Transfer to serving plate; garnish with scallion greens. Serve with dipping sauce, peanut sauce, or both.
We ate them with a delicious ginger coconut milk soup, recipe courtesy of 101 Cookbooks.