So school is officially in session and I’m loving it! I’ve always been one of those secretly nerdy people who really loves school; notebooks, pens and pencils, learning. The whole bit. So far I’m just completing some basic nutrition courses, but I’m finding it fascinating! Do you know how much work your body does behind the scenes all day long?! It’s kind of incredible.
That said, I’ve been trying to pay extra attention to what I’m eating, A. because I just learned about how your body uses (and stores…) fat and B. because Costa Rica is two weeks away and my bikini bod has soooort of been hibernating for the winter.
Um, so… onto the dumplings?
I never loved the traditional pork dumplings you can find at Chinese restaurants – even before I kicked meat to the curb. Maybe it was foreshadowing?! It was always like a little greasy meatball just waiting to sit like a rock in your stomach. Not my cup of tea.
So I always ordered, and still always order, vegetable dumplings when I get a hankering for Chinese food. Which happens in spurts. I’ll crave Chinese food constantly for like three months or so, my dumpling intake will go way up, and then I’ll be satisfied for a few months. Ah, the ebb and flow of Chinese takeout cravings.
So it turns out pleating these little darlings takes some skill.. and patience. I got a few good ones but truth be told, most of them looked like maybe I threw them on the ground and stepped on them a little.
The dough is literally flour and water and as I made them I wondered how whole wheat flour would work? Or maybe a mix of all-purpose and wheat? It’s interesting how little switches can improve the nutritional profile of a food.
For the filling I used carrots, cabbage, mushrooms and tofu for a little extra protein since, in my world, dumplings constitute a meal. This filling, with a few small tweaks, could probably work as veggie moo shu filling too – another Chinese takeout food I rendezvous with from time to time.
I’ve always preferred steamed dumplings – I like the chewy bite steaming gives the dough. Also, it doesn’t add any additional fat which is a plus when you basically eat dumplings the way those people eat hot dogs on Coney Island on the 4th of July. Still, some people prefer pan-fried and who am I to judge? Fry away, my friends! When Alex and I order dumplings it’s always a toss up because hes a pan-fried fan. We usually end up with steamed though 😉
So, what’s everyone’s favorite Chinese takeout and have you ever tried making it at home?
After folding these dumplings up, I can say it’ll definitely make you want to call your local takeout place and give them some props.
- FOR DOUGH:
- 2c. all-purpose flour
- ¾c. boiled water (let sit 1-2min. before using)
- FOR DIPPING SAUCE:
- ⅓c. soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
- ¼ tsp. sugar
- 2 tbsp. rice vinegar
- 1-2 tsp. sesame oil
- FOR FILLING:
- 2 tbsp. sesame oil
- 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- ½c. shredded carrots
- ½c. shredded cabbage
- ½c. mushrooms, small diced
- 7oz. tofu (1/2 a package), pressed & small diced
- Handful of cilantro leaves, chopped
- ¼c. chopped scallions
- ¼c. soy sauce (add more to taste)
- 1 egg, whisked
- Salt & pepper to taste
- To make dough: Use dough blade on food processor, slowly adding in the water until dough forms a ball. If making dough by hand, place flour in a large bowl and slowly add in water, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go along. Dough should look lumpy. Knead the dough to bring it together into one big ball. Add extra water by the teaspoon if needed.
- Transfer dough to a floured work surface and knead for about 2min. Dough should be smooth and bounce back slowly when pressed.
- Place dough in plastic bag, get rid of most of the air and seal it up. Let rest for at least 15min and up to 2 hours.
- In the meantime, make the dipping sauce: Combine the soy sauce, ginger, sugar, rice vinegar and sesame oil in a bowl and set aside.
- To make the filling: Heat 2tbsp. sesame oil over medium high heat. Add in ginger and garlic and cook 1-2min. Add in carrots, cabbage, mushrooms. Gently fold in tofu and cook for 4-5min. Remove from heat and mix in cilantro and scallions, set aside. Once cooled, mix in soy sauce and egg.
- After dough has rested: Divide dough into 4 logs. To create wrappers, cut each log into 6 small pieces. Roll out each piece, using a circle cutter to get perfect circles if you have one. The wrappers should each be 3½-4in. in diameter.
- To assemble dumplings: Cup your hand an place 1 wrapper in your palm. Take a generous tablespoon of filling and place in the center of the wrapper, leaving a 1in. border. Dip your finger into some water and run around the edge of the wrapper to help it stick when folded. Fold into a half moon shape (it will look like a taco). Starting from left to right, pinch a bit of the dough from the front side of the wrapper (the one that is not touching your hand) and fold over to the left to form a pleat. Continue from left to right to seal dumpling, making sure to press out any extra air. Do this for each dumpling.
- To steam: Use a steamer basket if you have one. If not, oil a colander/strainer and place it over a pot of boiling water. Place a few dumplings in the colander, making sure they're not touching or they'll stick together, and place a lid over top. Steam for 8-10min and remove to a plate.
- Serve dumplings, garnished with additional cilantro leaves or chopped scallions, with dipping sauce.
recipe adapted from Food Network & Chow Hound