Vegetable Dumplings

To repeat the intro to Friday’s post (Pork & Cabbage Dumplings): Homemade dumplings are a great quick supper, particularly if you make more than you need and can freeze some for later. It’s also a great party food – have the guests come ready to help wrap their dumplings! Kids also love this activity – just be sure hands are washed and be able to put up with a wild variety of shapes and sizes. The wrappers are readily available in many conventional stores – look for round “gyoza” wrappers, not the thinner, square “wonton” wrappers for this recipe. You can also make your own wrappers – more on that another day.

Here is a delicious and simple vegan filling you can substitute – the same method of assembly and cooking apply as in the meat version:

 

ingredients:

  • 2 pkg gyoza wrappers (approximately 36 per pkg)

filling:

  • 1 lb fresh spinach (or 1 pkg frozen chopped spinach)
  • 1 oz rice noodles, spaghetti or angel hair
  • 1 leek chopped, or 1 bunch Chinese chives, chopped
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1 T light soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

dipping sauce:

  • light soy sauce
  • black or rice wine vinegar
  • sesame oil
  • chili paste, chopped fermented chilies, and/or chili oil
  • minced ginger root
  • minced scallions

making the filling:

  1. Blanch and shock the spinach, reserve the cooking water, then squeeze out as much water as possible, and chop the spinach. If you’re using frozen spinach, simply thaw and squeeze out the water.
  2. In the same pot, cook the noodles according to the package directions, then rinse in cold water and chop into 1″ lengths.
  3. Add the remaining filling ingredients, and mix well to combine thoroughly.
  4. Prepare a large tray and a small bowl of water.
  5. If you plan to boil the dumplings, start heating a large pot of water.

wrapping the dumplings: (video below instructions!) 

  1. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of a wrapper (it takes a while to figure out how much it will hold: too much and the filling will pop out during cooking; too little and you’ll end up with too much dough, too little filling).
  2. Dip your finger into the bowl of water and run it around 1/2 of the circle’s edge.
  3. Fold the circle in 1/2 and pinch the middle of the 1/2 circle closed.
  4. With your other hand, pinch part of the outer edge closed so that you have a pucker between the outer edge and the pinched middle, then pleat that closed.
  5. Repeat step 8 on the other side of the pinched middle, squeeze the seam tightly closed, and place the dumpling on the tray.
  6. Repeat until all wrappers are used up.

cooking the dumplings:

  • Boiling: drop the dumplings one at a time into the boiling water. When it returns to a boil, add 1 c cold water. Do this 2 more times, so that you’ve added 3 c cold water total. When it returns to a boil the 3rd time, the dumplings should be done.
  • Steaming: Arrange the dumplings close together but not touching on a greased steamer layer. Steam for 15 m.
  • Pan-frying: In a skillet or wok (unless your wok or skillet is reliably seasoned, you may want to use nonstick in this case), heat 1 T oil until it shimmers. Add the dumplings in concentric circles, close together. Fry the bottoms of the dumplings until golden brown, quickly add 1/2 c water, and cover. Steam for 10-15 m, testing for doneness by cutting 1 dumpling open – it should no longer be pink inside. Invert onto a plate to serve.

serving:

Have small bowls for diners to mix dipping sauce to their taste, or simply sprinkle the desired ingredients over the dumplings in each person’s bowl.

do ahead:

  • Wrappers and filling can both be frozen – defrost in the refrigerator before using.
  • Finished, uncooked dumplings can be frozen on a cookie sheet, then put into a container or plastic bag and frozen for up to 6 months. Be sure they’re not getting crushed. Cook from frozen – do not defrost, or they will lump together – adding approximately 5 m to cooking time.
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