Monday, June 13, 2011

Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Steamed Wontons

Now that Denise and I live more that two inches away from each other on a 12x12 U.S. map, no one is around to make me wontons regularly.* I tried it as a date dinner with the boy, and we are hooked. Seriously; we made about thirty dumplings and were still looking for more when they were gone. 

An Alton Brown recipe was my starting point, but I modified it rather a lot, particularly to use what fresh veg I had left over from other meals. I subbed that which the refrigerator yielded at the time to great effect, and added a few things I considered the original to be missing.  We paired with this with a homemade, practically drinkable dumpling sauce without which these should not be eaten.

The video instructions provided here by the inestimable Mr. Brown really make it fun to do as a project with your better half, especially if you, like myself, don't have a dedicated wonton steamer on hand. These freeze well. 

Don't let the wrappers dry out on your counter or you will cry.** If your grocery doesn't have good fresh tofu, look for the refrigerated, Hawaiian fried kind - the texture is better than the stuff you get from a box in the dry goods section. If you have the foresight, slightly poach the garlic and ginger for the sauce by putting them in the steamer with the wontons. Add chopped green onions after the sauce is cool (use the white and light-green parts for the wontons above and the dark green parts for this). Rice vinegar is my favorite here, but red wine will work in a pinch.

  • 1/2 pound firm fresh tofu, or 2 blocks fried Hawaiian style tofu
  • 1/2 cup julienned broccoli stems
  • 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage
  • 1/2 cup shredded spinach
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch finely chopped scallions, dark green parts set aside
  • 5-6 dried, black mushrooms (shitake or other), reconstituted and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped 
  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • small dish of water
  • 35 to 40 small wonton wrappers
  • Non-stick vegetable spray, for the steamer
Dumpling Sauce:
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 6 tbsp good soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp rice wine or red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 1 tsp chili oil, or 1 tsp vegetable oil and a pinch ground cayenne
Odd tools:
  • wonton steamer, or
  • three disposable aluminum pie plates
  • kitchen shears or old scissors
  • aluminum foil
If using fresh tofu, cut the block in half horizontally and lay between layers of kitchen towels. Place on a cutting board, top with another cutting board or baking sheet and place a heavy weight on top (a few sacks of flour or your mortar and pestle work well). Let stand 30 minutes, then cut the tofu into 1/4-inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add one lightly beaten egg. If using Hawaiian-style tofu, chop finely and put in food processor with one egg until it's mush.

Microwave the chopped mushrooms on high for one minute. When cool, squeeze out excess moisture. To the tofu mixture, add the broccoli, cabbage, spinach, red pepper, scallions, mushrooms, water chestnuts, ginger, parsley, soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, salt, and pepper. Lightly stir to combine.

julienning broccoli stems
combine diced fried tofu with
egg and turn to mush

veggies for filling

To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. 

Dip your finger in the water and lightly run along the edges of the wrapper. 

Place 1 rounded teaspoon of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Bring the two opposite corners together, followed by the other two. Seal along the edges, making a sort of pyramid. 

Set finished wonton on a length of wax paper or a lightly greased plate and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat until all of the filling is gone.

If you have a steamer, bring 1/4 to 1/2-inch of water to a simmer over medium heat. If you don't have a steamer, some disposable aluminum pie plates and foil will work just fine. Get out a tall pot and see if the aluminum pie pan will lie flat within it. If it's a bit too big, use kitchen shears to trim down until they fit comfortably. 

Use a sharp knife to (carefully!) punch holes all over the bottom of each pie tin. Repeat with two additional pie plates. Coil about 9 inches of aluminum foil into a doughnut shape, as shown. Repeat for two additional pieces. (Congratulations - you've made a steamer.) 

Put one of the foil doughnuts on the bottom of the tall pot. Add water 'til it comes almost to the top of the doughnut. Bring to boil. 

Add another foil doughnut to the center of a prepared pie pan. Spray both with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Place as many dumplings as will fit onto this without touching each other. Repeat with another pie plate and foil doughnut. The final pie plate won't need a spacer, as nothing will go on top of it. 

Layer these into a sort of tower in the large pot. Cover and steam for 12 minutes over low heat. Remove the dumplings from the steamer to a heatproof platter. 

Repeat until all dumplings are cooked. 

While the dumplings are cooking, prepare the dipping sauce. Add vinegar, sugar, ginger and garlic to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on high for 45 seconds. Let cool slightly, then add soy sauce, chili oil and the reserved, chopped dark green onion bits. Taste using a finished dumpling - it should be sweet, salty, spicy, and tart. If it's not, add sugar, soy, cayenne or vinegar as appropriate until it floats your boat. 

Serve dumplings warm with dumpling sauce** as an appetizer, or with soup as a meal. 

*P.S. Denise's meat dumplings are in need of being posted, too.

**P.P.S. This is a great time to drink riesling. 


1 comment:

Denise said...

WOW. I usually LOVE your posts but this one I LOVEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!! I really like the photos, esp. the one with all the fillings labeled! You so fancy! And you are right about the riesling.