Thursday, April 10, 2014

Steamed Veggie Dumplings

Two days ago, I got the genius idea that I was going to make my own wontons to add to some leftover take-out egg drop soup I had in the fridge. The only problem was that I didn't have wonton wrappers in the house. Since I also did not have any defrosted meat at home, I researched a few recipes for veggie wontons on the bus on the way home. (There may be a theme here that I need to work on planning further ahead.)  Last time I looked for wonton wrappers, it took forever to find them. This time, I knew I should just go to Whole Foods first.

You know how everyone says you shouldn't go to the grocery store hungry? Well, there's a good reason for that. I managed to get out of the grocery section mostly unscathed, with only a few items that weren't wonton wrappers, but all things that have been on my grocery list for a while. The problem came when I walked past the prepared foods section.  The mac and cheese looked so good, I figured that a small container to take home and add to my dinner wouldn't be terrible.  But then there was also barbecued pulled pork right next to the mac and cheese. I added a little pulled pork to my container of mac and cheese and headed to the checkout line.  I'm honestly not sure exactly what happened between deciding to supplement my dinner a little and getting to the cafe seating at the exit of the store. Somehow, my body/brain decided that there was  no possible way to make it the 3/4 of a mile home without eating something right this very second.

At which point, I sat down, housed the mac and cheese and pulled pork, and walked home in the rain to do my taxes in a shadow of food shame. So much for my healthy veggie wontons.

Yesterday, I came home with a mission in my mind. I was going to succeed at veggie wontons. Since I didn't need anything else from the grocery store, I figured that as long as I started as soon as I got home, I could knock out these wontons.  I tackled the filling in two parts, hoping not to overcook anything and end up with a filling without texture. I pan fried 2 at first, just to test them, then broke out the steamer.  I also had enough filling leftover to take as a side dish for lunch later this week.  Happy to add another fairly technically complicated dish to my list of "can-dos!"

Veggie filling doesn't look the prettiest, but it's pretty yummy.

Rolling the dumplings takes a little practice, but it's pretty easy.

Be careful that your dumplings aren't touching when you cook them or they'll stick together.

Two different shapes with dipping sauce: finished!

Veggie Dumplings

  • 1.5-2 cups frozen chopped spinach (thawed)
  • 1/2 block soft silken tofu
  • ~10 brussels sprouts
  • 3 green onions, sliced finely on the diagonal
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2t ginger, grated
  • 1T red miso paste
  • 2T toasted sesame seeds
  • wonton wrappers
  • 1T ponzu sauce
  • 1T rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2t red pepper flakes
  • 2T olive oil, divided
  • 2t sesame oil, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4c water
  • optional: oil for frying
Peel the dark outer leaves off the brussels sprouts. Remove the stems, cut them in half, and shave them into small ribbons.  Over a medium-high flame, heat 1T olive oil with 1t sesame oil in a saute pan. Add the onion and garlic and stir until the onion softens.  Then, add the brussels sprouts, the ponzu sauce, and the rice wine vinegar. Saute until the brussels sprouts are slightly softened and bright green.  Remove from heat and set aside in a medium-sized bow.

Return the empty pan the stove. Again over a medium-high flame, heat 1T olive oil with 1t sesame oil. Add the spinach, tofu, and miso paste. "Scramble" these ingredients together, as you would eggs, until everything is combined, and the tofu begins to brown lightly. You should have visible chunks of tofu, the consistency of scrambled eggs. Remove from heat and add to the bowl with the brussels sprouts mixture. Stir in toasted sesame seeds and red pepper flakes. This is your filling

Combine the egg and water in a small dish. Working on a few at a time, lay out the wonton wrappers on a clean dry surface. Spoon a small amount of filling (~1/2 T) into the middle of each wrapper. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with the egg wash. Fold over one corner of the wrapper, pinch it together with the diagonally opposite corner, and the seal edges, taking care to avoid air bubbles.  Optionally, you can take the two "long" corners" and fold them onto each other, sealing with egg wash. Otherwise, leaving them as triangles works just fine.

Using a steamer basket over a shallow depth of water, steam in a single layer until wrappers become translucent (~5 minutes, I think). Serve with Dumpling Dipping Sauce (recipe follows).

Notes: I finally found wonton wrappers in the refrigerated section at Whole Foods, in the same case as the fake meats (like SmartDogs, etc.).  The guys at Giant claimed they had them, but they did not. I don't know if they usually have them and didn't that day, or if they used to carry them and that's no longer the case.  In addition to steaming, the wrappers work well for frying.  These dumplings could be deep fried until golden brown, or pan fried in a shallow layer of oil for about 2 minutes per side.  You could also go a slightly more traditional route and pan fry on one side, then add water and a lid to the pan to steam the other side.  Be careful not to let too many air bubbles form in you dumplings with the filling. If the dumplings are well sealed, they'll puff up and pop when heated.

Dumpling Dipping Sauce
  • 4T soy sauce
  • 2T seasoned rice wine vinegar (or plain rice wine vinegar + a small pinch of sugar)
  • 1T water
  • 2t sesame oil
  • Optional: finely diced chives or green onion for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, adjusting for personal taste. Dip dumplings!

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