Thursday, December 20, 2012
Pan fried dumplings
Every so often I concoct a random meal out of bits and pieces that need using up in the fridge. Sometimes I surprise myself with how well these experiments work and realise later I foolishly haven't recorded the recipe. Other times when I have made the effort to jot down notes, the meal hasn't been that great but at least I have something to work on for next time around.
The other night I made a big batch of dumplings with a bunch of leftovers in the fridge which turned out to be amongst the nicest dumplings I've made. Gyoza wrappers were nearing their best before date, cabbage was discolouring around the edges, mushrooms were becoming soft and I had mistakenly bought a bag of carrots even though I had a full bag in the fridge. To save time preparing the filling, I used my food processor to chop the onion and then the mushrooms. Whilst the onions were frying I attached the grating disc to shred the carrots and cabbage, so the only chopping I needed to do by hand was the garlic and ginger. After the vegetables had softened I seasoned them lightly with a bit of light soy sauce, tamari or regular soy sauce would also work well if you don't have this on hand.
One of my favourite kitchen gadgets is a set of dumpling presses I purchased from Minh Phat in Richmond, a huge Asian grocery store. From memory the set only cost $2 or $3, I believe they are worth their weight in gold as they create a neat finish with minimal effort and save copious amounts of time. All you have to do is place a wrapper on the press, spoon in a small amount of filling (being mindful not to overfill them) and press the little handles together. The edges of the wrappers can be moistened with a drop or two of water if the wrappers aren't sealing properly, although sometimes I find there is no need for this step.
Our preferred style of dumplings is pan fried, I probably only steamed dumplings once before we became hooked on the crispy pan fried style. After the dumplings are browned on each side, a splash or two of water is added to the pan which is covered briefly to create some steam which completes the cooking of the wrappers. As I was in a creative type of mood I made up my own dipping sauce to go with the dumplings. I don't have the precise measurements for this so I won't add it to my recipe list yet. It was a mixture of soy sauce (~3 tablespoons), sesame oil (~2 teaspoons) and a finely sliced birds eye chilli. Some minced garlic would have been been lovely in this too.
These dumplings were a household success, the man isn't fond of too much ginger and thankfully I hadn't gone over the top. There was no way the three of us were going to make it through a batch of 48 dumplings even though the young man managed to polish off 20 on his own! I was pleasantly surprised that the leftovers held up well when I enjoyed them cold for lunch the following day.
Pan fried carrot, cabbage and mushroom dumplings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5cm piece ginger, minced
2 medium carrots, grated
400g green cabbage, finely shredded
100g portobello mushrooms, finely diced
2 tablespoons light soy sauce, tamari or regular soy sauce (approximate measurement, add to taste)
48 gyoza wrappers
Olive or peanut oil, for frying
Water, for the steaming step
Heat the olive oil in a large deep sided frying pan over medium heat and cook the onions for 5 minutes until softened. Stir through the garlic and ginger for a minute then add the carrot, cabbage and mushroom. Cook, stirring occasionally for 10 minutes or until the vegetables have reduced in size and softened. Stir through the light soy sauce and continue to cook until the mixture is fairly dry. Turn off the heat and transfer the contents to a large bowl. Allow the mixture to cool down before stuffing the dumplings (I put mine in the freezer for 15 minutes to cool it quickly).
Construct the dumplings using a dumpling press by placing a wrapper on the pressing tool, spooning a small amount of mixture into the centre and pressing the handles together. If you don't have a dumpling press and are feeling adventurous there are some folding tips and pictures here (be warned that this isn't a vegan site).
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan with a lid over medium-high heat. Place as many dumplings that will fit into the pan comfortably and cook for a couple of minutes or until browned. Flip them over and brown the other side. Splash a few tablespoons of water into the pan and cover with a lid. Allow to steam for 3 more minutes then remove the lid, if there is any liquid remaining allow it to cook off. Gently remove the dumplings from the pan with a spatula and continue pan frying the rest of the dumplings in batches.
Serve with your preferred dipping sauce.