It’s SO Easy Being Green
My family hails from Brazil, a country that prizes meat consumption in all its glory. And yet, my sister has been a vegetarian (and a vegan when her multiple sclerosis doesn’t give her grief about it) since she was in fourth grade. Always loving to cook for friends and family (regardless of dietary restrictions), I quickly altered my repertoire to include non-meat alternatives for all of my tried and true recipes. As time went by, I came across more and more good friends looking for some sweet, non-meat dining (Drew and Briana, especially). I never felt put out making “two dinners” – it just meant more time in the kitchen.
Vegetarian, vegan or no, give these dumplings a whirl. If you make them at the same time as the chicken or pork versions, not only will you have a veritable dim sum spread in front of you, you’ll be winning the favor of your non-meat eating friends. And friends are a good thing, I hear ;)
Two little tips to keep in mind – the green food coloring, aside from aesthetic purposes, is an awesome way to quickly separate between the veggie and meat dumplings on a platter. No meat eaten by mistake. I use green food coloring for the dye action, but if you are using frozen spinach at any time, you can save the water from it to dye your dumpling skins. The other tip is that although I list a slew of veggies for these guys, do experiment and use whatever you’d like. Try spinach instead of the cress, water chestnuts instead of the bamboo shoots – be creative and use what’s fresh and available.
4 c. of flour
1 1/4 c. of ice water
1/2 tsp. of salt
green food coloring
1/2 shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 c. of cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
1 c. of shitake mushrooms, chopped (or Wood Ear, Hen of the Woods, Oyster mushrooms – try a mix)
2 bunches of scallions, chopped
4 tbs. of watercress, minced
1/3 c. of bamboo shoots, chopped
1/2 c. of thin rice noodles (rice sticks), reconstituted in boiling water and chopped
8 stems of cilantro (stems and leaves), minced
2 in. of fresh ginger, minced or microplaned
4 tbs. of soy
3 tsp. of sesame oil
3 tsp. of sherry
1 tbs. of Sriracha (thai chili paste)
2 tsp. of sugar
dash of white pepper
Start by making the dough for the wrappers. Add the four cups of flour to a bowl along with the 1/2 tsp. of salt. Mix about 10 drops of green food coloring into the water. Slowly stream in water, stirring as you go and making sure not to put any actual ice cubes in the mixture. Add only enough water to get the dough to hold together – if it gets too sticky, add a bit more flour. Knead dough until silky and elastic (about 5-8 minutes) and then wrap with plastic and let chill in the fridge.
Mix all vegetables and seasonings and then taste for salt. Set filling aside.
Break out your dough and pinch a chunk off the size of a clementine. Run the dough through a pasta roller or roll out by hand to about 1/4 in. thick. Cut out 3-4 in. circles using a cookie cutter or the mouth of a large cup (I use one of my hubby’s beer steins). Place a heaping teaspoon of filling onto the wrapper and pleat the edges to close. Set aside on a floured cookie sheet. Continue to fill the dumplings until you run out of filling or dough – whichever comes first.
Fill a large pot with water and set to boil. When the water is ready, plunk in about 8-12 dumplings and watch the water go from a boil to a simmer. Let the water come back to a boil and then pour in a rough cup and a half of cold water. Let the water come to a boil again and then add cold water a second time. Let the pot come to a boil one last time and then remove dumplings from the water with a slotted spoon. Repeat until you’ve cooked all of the dumplings that you could possibly eat in one sitting.
These are delicious simply boiled, but you can also fry the dumplings after boiling in a skillet slicked with a bit of vegetable oil. Num num!