Well balanced and surprisingly simple.Jump to Recipe
I’m writing this post from a hotel room in Salt Lake City. Tomorrow we’re off to California, and down the Baja Peninsula from there for a few weeks of exploring in Mexico. The car is packed with bikes, camping equipment. cooking gear, and boatloads of snacks. There are many adventures ahead. But tonight, I’m content and my belly is full of these great golden dumplings.
The past two weeks were a whirlwind of preparations and planning. The last night at home was no exception; I spun around the kitchen, packing our little travel cooking kit, double-checking the myriad lists I’d made about every single thing you can think of and turning the meager contents of the fridge and pantry into epic road trip snacks. These dumplings were the highlight of my tweaking and crafting.
The dumplings actually began as a holiday bender. I loved whipping them up for guests over the holidays, stuffing them with whatever happened to be hanging out in the fridge (lentils! pumpkin! broccoli and cheese!) We had a few wrappers leftover when it came time to clean out the fridge, along with a handful of shiitake mushrooms, some little scallions, a few stalks of celery and one last knob of ginger. And you know, golden dumplings are so much more intriguing than a gas station sandwich from somewhere in Nevada!
So, these golden dumplings. They’re my take on a potsticker, and I’m not that far off save for fresher ingredients inside. I cook up a veggie-forward filling, then use a small amount of avocado oil to sear them up, and some water to steam the tops, so they aren’t the grease balls you’d find at a restaurant. Dumplings like this get a bad wrap for being tricky to shape, but I think you’ll all be in my camp where desire trumps artistic ability, and that’s all that matters anyway.
Hot, fresh dumplings are one of life’s great joys. (So eat these that way if the opportunity arises!) But eating dumplings on a plane, or as a ride snack (it’s true and its possible!) or in the middle of Nevada with your feet on the dashboard while listening to a podcast is pretty awesome too.
I’m working on a dumpling dough of my own design…but it’s going to take longer than I’m willing to go without dumplings in my life. SO, I use store-bought dumpling wrappers here and if you’re fancy/lazy like me I suggest you do too. There are lots of dumpling wrappers to choose from, and I try to pick the ones that have the shortest ingredient list, all things I can recognize, and it’s a bonus if they were made near where I live. Typically you can find them at an international market or Asian grocery store.
For the filling, I love this combination of flavors, particularly when you deglaze with beer. SO good. And it wouldn’t bother me at all if you upped the mushroom quantity a bit over the celery quantity – again, bomb. But, if you don’t have one of these ingredients, you can use any ingredients you like so long as they aren’t too watery…which will leach out of the dumplings as they cook. Cooked lentils, roasted pumpkin, carrots, herbs, hummus….all of those things have made for some great golden dumpling successes in my opinion.
I’ve found that the dumplings seal best when I just use the cornstarch they’re coated in to close them. Other dumpling makers I know use a dusting of flour. You do you. I also find that they seal most easily when you allow the water to soak into the starch a bit, so I’ll lay out a few wrappers and swipe them with water, then fill and shape (as you see in the header image of this post.)
One last note on shaping: don’t fret if your dumplings don’t look “perfect.” The dumplings don’t know the difference, and neither will your taste buds. Just get those babies closed and tightly. Make sure they have a “bottom” so they can rest in the pan and brown up. Then enjoy them!
Flavors are FUN, yes, but they also are the mechanisms by which our bodies nourish themselves. Flavors basically tell our bodies what the food is giving us – on a nutritional and energetic level. Our bodies then prepare enzymes to break those components down, assimilate them, and turn them into fuel for our vibrant lives. We can’t eat just one flavor and get all of the things we need, so learning to track the flavors in our foods helps us to be sure that we’re really getting all of the things we need in our meals. This particular recipe has all six flavors. The more flavors we can enjoy in any meal or food, the happier and more balanced our bodies will be. If you’re wanting to learn more about how the flavors we eat fuel our bodies – energetically and nutritively, check out this little blog post.
Well balanced and surprisingly simple.
If your dumpling wrappers were frozen, remove them from the freezer (and maybe give them a little zap in the microwave to start their thawing. Just 30 seconds will do the trick!) Set them aside while you make the filling.
In a large skillet, warm 2 tablespoons avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the celery and cook until just tender, 2-3 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, scallions and ginger along with a pinch of salt and continue to cook until the mushrooms have softened, browned a bit and the mixture is fragrant. About another 4-5 minutes or so, but really just watch your pan. When the mushrooms smell great and have shrunk up a bit, they look great and smell delicious, they’re ready.
Add the beer or mirin to the pan to deglaze. Stir the mixture to push around the liquid and steam off the browning bits in the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook the mushroom mixture until the liquid has just evaporated, but not longer.
Transfer the mushroom mixture from the pan to a small bowl and set aside while you prepare your work station to shape the dumplings! Let the mixture cool as you wash the pan well and place it back on the hot burner to dry while you shape the dumplings.
Gather together your dumpling wrappers, a small bowl with 2 tablespoons water, a plate to place shaped dumplings and a wet-and-VERY-well-drained paper towel to cover your shaped dumplings so they don’t dry out.
Working one dumpling at a time, use your finger to apply a bit of water to the lip of one side of a won ton wrapper. Then, add 1-2 teaspoons of mushroom filling to the center of the wrapper. Now, press together the wet side and the dry side, pinching to seal. Once you have a little “packet” pleat the sealed lip together in little folds. You can make an oblong crescent-shaped dumpling, or a round little packet of a dumpling, but just be sure you’ve pleated that baby closed!
Hot tip: I find that shaping is easier if I hold the dumpling wrapper in one hand, then use my other had to wet the wrapper and place the filling. This way, I don’t have to pick up the open dumplings once they have filling inside!
Repeat the shaping process with the remaining filling and dumplings. You should have roughly 20 dumplings.
If you wish to cook your dumplings later, you can freeze the shaped dumplings at this point. Line a sheet pan with waxed paper, then place the dumplings on top. Wrap well with plastic and freeze until you’re ready to cook!
Warm the large skillet over medium-high heat for about a minute. Add 2 tablespoons of the avocado oil, and swirl the pan to coat completely.
Working quickly, place each of your dumplings, flattest side down on the oil in the bottom of the pan. Make sure they all have a little space between them. Once all of the dumplings are in the pan, add the last 3 tablespoons water and immediately place the lid on top of the pan.
Steam the dumplings for 5 minutes or so, lifting the lid to be sure they’re steaming happily and starting to turn golden brown. It’s important that they aren’t disturbed during this time so that they can properly crisp up on the bottom, and so that the steam doesn’t evaporate from the pan. Replace the lid and steam/cook for another minute or two, until the bottoms are adequately golden. (Don’t worry if they start to burn a bit – they’re still going to be delicious!)
When the dumplings are done cooking, remove the pan from the heat and use a tongs to transfer the dumplings to a plate. Eat immediately, or allow to cool completely and then store (if you’re planning on taking them for a little adventure.) Enjoy!
Whisk together the sesame, tamari and rice vinegar and dip your dumplings away!