When it comes to dumplings, it’s hard to beat pork as a filling. I’ve long been using this recipe from La Fuji Mama that was posted on Steamy Kitchen for pork and cabbage-filled gyoza. The resulting dumplings taste just like they do in a Japanese restaurant.
But this being the new year and hopes for a healthy eating renewed, I wanted to make something lighter: vegetable dumplings!
The Gentleman and I headed to the Asian market (where he was starry-eyed about 12 kinds of Spam available) and I picked up everything I would need for my lighter-but-still-tasty veggie dumplings. It takes lots of chopping, but it’s a great project when you have some time on your hands. (Cough lonely Jew on Christmas cough.)
The key to vegetables in dumplings is getting as much water as possible out of the filling. This recipe will help you out by cooking much of the water out of the veggies, but a good squeeze job at the end goes a long way.
Then you set up an assembly line of production (which can be staffed by one, if need be!) where you lay wrappers out on a lined cookie sheet, put some filling into the center of each, and fold them up. A roll of paper towels is helpful to wipe your hands and keep everything neat.
I make most of them for freezing. They’re good for the whole year.
Tomorrow I will post a video showing how to fold dumplings into nice pleated crescents. It’s much easier than it looks!
The ingredients below are very much to taste – nothing gets ruined by too much of this or not enough of that. This is a very forgiving recipe.
Modified from Food.com
1 large onion (red or yellow), diced
4 carrots, shredded (I use a food processor)
1/2 head of napa cabbage, finely shredded
8 or 9 shitake mushrooms, finely diced (about 1 cup; can be rehydrated from dried mushrooms)
2 Tablespoons minced ginger
1 cup green onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely-ground white pepper
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1 package (about 40) round dumpling wrappers
Salt to taste
1. Chop up all your veggies very finely. Large pieces of anything will be annoying in a dumpling. Prep them into three bowls: one with the onion and ginger, a second with the mushrooms, and a third the carrots, cabbage, and green onion.
2. Heat a little bit of vegetable oil in a medium-sized heavy pot and sautee the contents of bowl #1 (onion and ginger) for a few minutes until softened. Then add bowl #2 (mushrooms) and cook them until they’re looking a bit cooked. Add salt to taste and then add bowl #3 (carrots, cabbage, green onion) and cook until the whole thing looks cooked and deflated. The degree of cooked-ness is not important, as you’ll be steaming the dumplings later. But you want to get a good bit of the water out. The salt will help you there too.
3. Empty the filling into a strainer and let it sit in the sink and cool down.
4. When it’s cool, squeeze handfuls of it really hard over the sink until you lose some water. Not critical that you get every last bit. Just some gone will help.
5. Add the white pepper, sesame oil, and cilantro and mix through. Your filling is done!
6. Lay out the dumpling wrappers and spoon about a heaping tablespoon onto each one. Too much and the dumplings won’t close, too little and you’ll just be sad when you eat them.
7. Dip your finger in a small bowl of water and then rim the edge of the dumpling wrapper with water. You can just press them in half to seal them up (the water acts as glue) or you can do my fancing folding method. (Video to come.)
8. Freeze what you don’t plan to eat immediately by freezing them individually on a cookie sheet before putting the frozen dumplings in a bag.
9. To cook, heat a pan on medium high with a little oil, put the fresh or frozen dumplings flat side down until they have a nice brown, then dump a small bowl of water on the hot pan (be careful!) and quickly cover. Let them steam until they’re cooked through – anywhere from 2-5 minutes. Lift the lid off when they’re cooked and let them crisp up and dry out for about a minute. Voila!
10. Serve with dipping sauce of 1/2 soy sauce, 1/2 rice vinegar, and a tiny drop of chili oil.