I've been a fan of Asian dumplings in all their many forms for as long as I can remember. My father was a veteran of the Yangtze River Patrol in China back in the late 1940's, and brought his love for Chinese food and cooking home. I've since tucked away a LOT of Dim Sum and various dumplings in China, Japan and the San Francisco Bay Area. Every culture seems to have their own dumplings, that are steamed, baked, fried or boiled. These will be a fun afternoon project, and a starting point for experimentation. Follow my recipe to begin with, and then customize them to suit yourself. Minced Seitan or tofu work great!
For myself, I prefer my dumplings simmered in a rich, vegan version of Japanese-style Dashi soup broth, loaded with tender vegetables. It's my way of cleaning out the produce bin! Asparagus. Baby Bok Choy. Tender slices of carrots. More succulent Shiitake mushrooms. Lots of simmered onions! Umami loaded miso.
Any way you make this, it's fast, easy (once you understand the 'players'), and extremely satisfying.
As with any recipe, carefully read and assemble your ingredients first. Think the recipe through - especially your first time at bat. Peel, chop, mince, dice and measure. Success will depend a lot on this process.
Dried Shiitake mushrooms.
Dried Kombu seaweed for Dashi.
I encourage you to purchase your dried Shiitake mushrooms and Kombu at a local Asian market. Here in Reno, Nevada, I shop at Asian 168 on the corner of South Virginia and Gentry. You'll find a better selection and far better prices! That also applies to sake and the Chinese cooking wine.
Shao Xing Chia Fan Chiew Chinese rice wine for cooking.
Have your filling ingredients - in addition to the re-hydrated, minced Shiitake mushrooms all ready to go!
Now, cook the filling so that it can cool a bit before filling the dumplings. Start with the mushrooms.
Drizzle a splash or two of the Chinese cooking wine into the mushrooms as they cook.
When the mushrooms have developed some color, you can add the remaining ingredients. Mix. Combine. Sauté for a few more minutes. Taste. Adjust the seasonings.
As you can see, I add the re-hydrated Sea Vegetables (Wakame), because I like the texture and 'brine-y' flavor. Remove the cooked filling from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Set up your dumpling 'filling station' like you see below. You'll need a small spoon to scoop filling with, and a dish of water to moisten the edges of the wrappers so they stick closed.
For each wrapper, moisten your finger and run it around the edge. Turn the wrapper over and do the same.
You'll be tempted to over-fill the wrappers, but don't. A half spoonful is enough. You may find that gently mashing that little mound down a bit will help.
Fold the wrapper in half over the filling, and gently run your finger along the rounded top to seal.
Gently pick up the half-moon and pleat the top. Three or four pleats is fine. Pinch them a bit to seal them.
Set the finished dumplings on a piece of parchment paper while you finish the rest. Finished dumplings can be frozen. Put them on a baking sheet - uncovered - and set in the freezer for about 20 minutes or until frozen hard. Then, you can put them into a zip-lok type bag. They should last three months.
The Dashi-style soup broth is super easy. Pour four cups of boiling water over Kombu and Shiitake mushrooms in a deep pot. Let it sit for about 15-20 minutes, or until the mushrooms and Kombu are soft and the water is flavorful. Remove the Kombu and discard to your compost. Slice up the mushrooms and return to the pot. Add sake, miso, soy sauce, ginger, Mirin and sliced onions - and any dense vegetable such as carrot, turnip, yam, sweet potato or potato if you're using those. Simmer over very low heat for about 15 minutes or until a paring knife easily pierces the carrots or potato. Don't boil.
Adjust flavors if needed. I usually add a spoonful of brown sugar.
Then you can add the dumplings and any faster cooking ingredients of your choice:
Asparagus, snow peas, edamame, Baby Bok Choy leaves, sliced up Brussels Sprouts, shredded Napa cabbage, Collard greens, Swiss Chard, Spinach, massaged Kale.
Those will need to simmer for a couple of minutes. Test to see if they are 'done' to your taste. Whatever you do, don't overcook them! Don't boil. Serve with rice.
Hey, if you like or make this dish, would you mind posting the recipe to Yummly? I'd really appreciate that. The Yummly icon is on the right side of this webpage. Oh, and saving to Pinterest would also be great! Each photo should have a Pinterest icon in the upper left corner! Thanks!
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