Our one year wedding anniversary is coming up and Luke and I are heading back to Coronado this weekend to celebrate. I am totally ready to lay on the beach with a frosty drink in my hand and splash around in the ocean. Unfortunately, the closer I get to vacation, the more I want to start early and begin to crave sweet treats and all things covered in cheese. But I also want to look respectable in my swim suit, so I am resisting the cravings and trying to keep my menu vegetarian friendly until Friday. I find that it is easiest to be satisfied with a vegetarian meal when the dish is full of flavor and has a lot of substance to it. I’m not the kind of person who can eat salad for dinner every night. So for this week’s blog post, I decided to take the opportunity to do something really creative with a vegetarian dish and came up with the idea to make a stir-fry with homemade dumplings.
The last time I tried to make pasta it was kind of a disaster. First of all, I didn’t own a rolling pin. I also don’t think I was very comfortable working with dough. My ravioli’s came out really thick and tasted like cardboard. It wasn’t particularly encouraging, and I have avoided trying to make pasta dough ever since. This time around, my results were far more positive, and while I can’t say that rolling your own dumplings is either quick nor easy, it is nice to know that it is possible.
For this dish, I used the following ingredients:
- Half a head of cabbage
- One package of baby bella mushrooms
- 2 large carrots (for juicing)
- 2 heads of broccoli
- Lots of all purpose flour
- 3 or 4 garlic cloves
- Chinese pantry items- Hoisin sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, chili garlic sauce, sesame seed oil, corn starch, red chili flakes, ground ginger
The first step is to make the filling for the dumplings. I cut a cabbage in half and roughly chopped it, along with the package of mushrooms. Everything is getting blended later, so looks and knife skills aren’t important. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok, and add crushed garlic, ginger powder, and red chili flakes to the oil for aromatics. Add the cabbage and mushrooms and stir-fry until soft. Add a couple of tablespoons of sesame seed oil to the mixture, stir, and remove from heat.
The next step is to make your dumpling dough. My carrot dumpling dough recipe came from Adam Robert’s cookbook Secrets of the Best Chefs Recipes. Juice two large carrots until you have at least half a cup of carrot juice. Put 1 3/4 cups flour into a large bowl, and combine with the carrot juice. Mix and form a ball, and knead for a few minutes. Set aside and let the ball rest for about ten minutes. (Sparingly add more carrot juice as needed. You want the dough to be just wet enough to stick together. I found wetting my hands helped form the final ball).
Can I just take a moment to marvel at the awesomeness of flour? It blows my mind that liquid and flour can be turned into dough, which can be turned into something edible. The idea that variations of flour and water can be turned into anything from bread, to cake, to muffins, to cookies, to pancakes amazes me.
While your dough is resting, transfer your cabbage mixture into a food processor and blend until you basically have a gray pulp.
Now comes the labor intensive part- rolling out the dumplings. This isn’t as difficult as it might seem, but it does take a bit of time. Divide your dough into smaller balls, slightly smaller than a golf ball. Mine made approximately 11 small balls. Dust your work surface with flour, and flatten each ball with your hand, and then roll it as thin as possible with a rolling pin. Spoon about a tablespoon of the cabbage puree onto one side of your flattened dough. Use your fingers to wet the edges of the dough, and fold your dumpling over to form a pocket. Try and squeeze out as much air as possible and pinch the edges closed tight. Use a knife to trim off any excessive dough around the edges. Repeat until all of your dumplings have been formed and filled.
*Note- most Chinese dumplings are tiny, delicate little things. While I think my cooking has gotten pretty good over the last year, tiny, intricate, and delicate are just not my style. So I ended up with dumplings that were quite large, and not uniform in size or shape. That doesn’t bother me, but if you want to make something smaller and less free formed, by all means, go ahead.
Store your dumplings in the fridge for a few minutes while you work on the rest of the dish. Cut your broccoli crowns into florets and boil a large pot of water. Blanche your broccoli, and save the water to boil your dumplings in.
Mix together- 2 tablespoons of the following together in a bowl- Hoisin sauce, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic chili paste, rice vinegar and water. Add 1 tablespoon of sesame oil and a teaspoon of cornstarch. Taste and adjust to your personal taste and heat preference.
Heat oil in a wok and stir-fry your broccoli for 3-4 minutes. Meanwhile, add your dumplings to the boiling water, and boil for approximately 4 minutes or until they float to the top.
Add your sauce mixture to the broccoli and allow to simmer for about a minute. Once your dumplings are fully cooked, remove the wok from the heat, add your dumplings and gently mix with the sauce.
Plate it up and you have a spicy, satisfying vegetarian dish that is fully of flavor and nutrients.