My Asian Dumpling Obsession, and a Recipe

15 04 2012

Vegetable Dumplings at HanGawi in NYC

If you read last week’s post, you got a peek at my fabulous macrobiotic meal at a restaurant named Mana. We shared two kinds of steamed dumplings, one filled with a mash of lightly curried sweet potatoes, the other stuffed with greens and vegetables. This was not my first dumpling experience in the Big City. In fact, pretty much every time there is a veggie dumpling on a menu, I order it. The photo above is of a lovely veggie dumpling I had at the vegan Korean restaurant HanGawi, just a few days before. Although they are somewhat obscured by lightly steamed broccoli florets, you can see that they are folded in a tortellini-style shape. They were filled with tender greens, and perched on a puddle of sweet-sour hot sauce.

I couldn’t stop there, and when I had dinner at The Spice Market, a Jean Georges Vongerichten restaurant, I had another version. This time, they bobbed in a tasty soup.

Fresh Pea Soup with Sweet-Pea Miso Dumplings (sorry, it was dark)

This was definitely an upscale soup, a sweet and subtle puree of absolutely fresh, shelled peas, with a few chopped greens and herbs. The dumplings were tiny and tender, filled with miso-spiked pea puree. It was a celebration of the English Pea, a seasonal and fleeting delight. It was delicious.

Of course, then came the dumplings at Mana, where we shared them, dipped in tasty soy-based sauces.

Macrobiotic Veggie Dumplings

When you come right down to it, a plump, juicy dumpling is irresistible. Little pillows of deliciousness that they are, they are like a present, specially wrapped just for you. The sauce is the bow on top. You get to eat them with your fingers, if you want, or pick them up with chopsticks, which is also pretty playful. So, if you can see where this is all leading, I thought I should make some steamed veggie dumplings when I got home.

Steamed Chinese Style Veggie Dumplings at Home

Steamed Chinese-Style Vegetable Dumplings

I’ve made versions of this recipe for years, and found that they benefit from the complexity and funk that a bit of preserved or pickled cabbage adds. I used easy to find wonton skins in the photo, which are thinner, and kind of flop over in the steamer, but are just as yummy. If you are vegan, look at the ingredients on your wrappers, many brands are actually egg-free.

1 package potsticker or gyoza wrappers
canola oil
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/4 cup szechuan preserved vegetables or kimchee, rinsed and minced (not everyone has access to szechuan veggies, but kimchee is close enough)
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups minced bok choy
1 cup chinese chives, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pinch white pepper
2 tablespoons shao xing rice wine or sherry
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar

vinegar, chili sauce, and soy sauce

1. Use 1 teaspoon of the oil to stir fry the vegetables until almost wilted. Add salt, pepper, wine, soy sauce, and sugar, cook until thick. Remove from heat, scrape into a bowl and cool completely.
2. To assemble, get a pastry brush and a cup of water, and a steamer or plate, and cut some parchment pieces for each dumpling. Lay out several wrappers and place a scant tablespoon of filling in the center of each. Brush the top half of each wrap and pull the two sides up around the filling, and form a flat bottom. Pleat the top edge and set each on a piece of parchment on the steamer. Cover with plastic as you go. These can be covered and refrigerated for a few hours, or frozen raw to be cooked frozen.
3. To cook, set up to steam. When the water is boiling, put the steamer over it, cover, and steam for about 8 minutes. When the dumpling wrappers are tender and the veggies are hot all the way in the center, they are done.  Let diners mix the three condiments to suit their tastes on the plate.

With a little Sriracha


Spring Chives, Spreading Like Green Wildfire

29 05 2011

Garlic Chives, Freshly Cut

If you garden, you know that there are certain plants that will happily take over every inch of your garden. Mint and oregano come to mind, both of which seem to have the kind of aggression that would make them bad neighbors, if they were people-sprawling their stuff across those property lines no matter how many times you push it back. But neither can match the kind of assault that a chive plant can make on your garden. Yes, as well as sending shoots out underground to tenaciously advance, they also have the self-defense mechanism of an oniony smell, and release tear gas that makes your eyes well up even as you dig the offending stalks from the basil bed.

You would think that I would be in the process of eradicating the fertile chives from my garden, but I am not. I’ve adopted a delicious containment policy. I figure that if something tasty and easy to use really wants to be there that badly, I had better come up with some fun ways to use it.

I should clarify that my particular chive plant is an Asian variety of Garlic Chives. With a hint of garlic flavor in its wild, oniony punch, it grows long, flat stems instead of the thin round ones of regular chives. Because of that it can hold up to a little more cooking. It’s also got the bonus of being the star of lots of great Chinese recipes, like garlic chive dumplings, and stir fries.

link to a tofu potsticker recipe:

Because of their dual attributes of oniony and garlicky flavors, I can use them in place of scallions, chives, and garlic in recipes. They have a particular affinity for tofu, as the above potsticker recipe would attest. If you are not up for forming dumplings, try a tofu scramble with chives, simply seasoned with soy sauce and ginger, and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Chives can take the place of scallions in stir fries and soups, and you can use large quantities of them in cooked dishes, since heat subdues their oniony heat a bit. If you are into eggs, chives are a classic addition to scrambled or baked egg dishes. If you eat dairy, cottage cheese, sour cream or yogurt, or creamy goat cheese all make good bases for a chivey taste experience.

Their flavor alone is good reason to use them up, but don’t forget how nutritious they are. They are high in vitamin C and carotene, and are a good source of calcium. They also contain Vitamin B1 and B2.  In Traditional Chinese medicine, garlic chives are considered to be a yang or warming food. And those sulphur compounds that sting your eyes are also antibacterial and antiseptic, and boost your immunity.

Of course, later in the year, my chives will offer up gorgeous, edible purple flowers. That will signal that the stems are too tough to eat raw, and I will snip them for use in salads, stir-fries, and as edible garnishes.

And to think-I once contemplated digging them up for good. My chives are a lesson in making the best of something that is pushy. I’m learning to use it to my advantage, do a little garden ju-jitsu, rather than wage war with it.

Garden lessons are the tastiest kind.

Garlic Chive Vichyssoise

Chill this for a summer soother, or serve warm. If you only have regular chives, throw in a chopped clove of garlic with the saute.

4 medium yukon gold potatoes, 1 1/4 lb, chopped

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped garlic chives, divided

3/4 cup water

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious coconut creamer)

1/2 teaspoon salt

In a 4 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil. Saute half of the garlic chives until soft and dark green, then add the potatoes and stir. Add the water, bring to a boil, and cover tightly. Cook for ten minutes, until the potatoes are tender and the water is almost gone. Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor and add the “milk” and puree. Add salt and the remaining chives and process until smooth.

Serve warm or chill-you may need to stir in more milk after chilling.

Garlic Chive Vichyssoise

This recipe looks like a delicious way to use those blossoms later on!

Avocado Toast With Caramelized Sweet Onion and Grape Tomatoes With Fresh Garden Chives and Chive Blossoms.

Hello world!

8 05 2009
Tofu Skin Rolls in a Salad

Tofu Skin Rolls in a Salad

How do they get it so beef-like?

How do they get it so beef-like?

Well, hello blogosphere.

This is my first post, so if you have not read my About page, please do.

One of the best mock meats I have ever tried

One of the best mock meats I have ever tried

I am on a journey.

As part of my quest to make vegetarian food as delicious as possible to the omnivores, I had recently become very interested in making mock “meats.” Like any good whole-food advocate, I find the test tube fake burgers and spun-soy sausages more than a little suspect. Then looking at our many plant based proteins, beans, nuts, seeds and even high protein grains are really quite high-pro enough for a healthy life.

But still, folks like the textures and flavors of meat subs, and I wondered how well I could make a few clean ingredients into something resembling meat. It has been interesting.

I am working on various concoctions made from vital wheat gluten, bean flours, tofu and tempeh. And on the way to the ultmate faux, I made a stop at Evergreen Restaurant, on Eat Street in Minneapolis.

Evergreen is a mecca for vegans, and because it is new the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD) in the bo-ho neighborhood of Whittier, it has found a niche catering to local veg-heads. The great thing about it, is that it is a conventional Chinese restaurant first, and a vegetarian place, second. the menu is just like any Chinese menu, with the usual authentic Chinese dishes mixed in with the Americanized ones. Where is differs is that most dishes can be ordered with a mock meat-and they make a chicken, a beef, and seafood versions.

Instead of the same tired mock duck from a can, Evergreen excels in making convincing, chewy textured mocks that you just can’t get anywhere else.

I’m working now on trying to come up with some faux that rival theirs. Wish me luck!