Ginger Carrot and Bok Choy Dumplings with Crispy Skirt
Want to hear the most exciting thing that’s happening in my life right now???? We’re getting a dog!!!!
Just kidding, Mom! Chill out. We’re just dog sitting this weekend, but I’m so pumped! A sweet girl named Hanky is going to be staying with us over the weekend. We get her tonight! I’ve always loved dogs… sort of. When I was younger I had a strange obsession with West Highland Terriers, so much so that I would get a calendar of them for my purple bedroom every year. It was a phase. My family are not really dog or pet people, but when I was about 10 years old I miraculously convinced my parents to get us dog. Knowing my parents, I still can’t believe they did that. I must have completely annoyed the crap out of them with my incessant begging and strategically placed notes/essays about why we should get a dog. I’ve always been a determined person. Ask my mom about the flyers I made when I wanted my very first Ipod…
So along came Toby! Our cute little Lhasa Apso puppy. After about 3 days, I was completely overwhelmed by Toby and I assume so were my parents. The timing wasn’t right. I really wasn’t ready for a dog. None of us knew how to take care of a dog. So we sadly ended up giving Toby to our family friend who was much more equipped to take care him. Fast forward 18 years. I’m now a 28 year independent woman running her own business with a boyfriend who grew up with a giant dreadlocked dog and was a “playtime specialist” at a dog kennel in high school! I should be ready for a dog now… I think. Idk. Hanky should be a good test run I think! She’s sort of a bigger dog and I really just want a mini dachshund I can name Elliot Stabler, so if I can handle Hanky I should be able to handle Stabler.
I wonder what having a dog in the kitchen will be like. Will she stay with me while I cook in hopes of catching some veggie scraps that fall to the ground? Will she try to smell the food I lay out for a photoshoot? Will there be an occasional snout or paw in my photos that I will have to crop out? What if a dumpling rolls off the table and she eats it?! Will she love Reuben more than me?!!! It will probably be a yes to that last one because animals always love Reuben. Anyways, I’ll let you know how being a temporary dog parent goes!
The Best Vegetarian Dumplings
Okay, so there really isn’t a smooth way to transition from dog parenting to dumplings… so let’s chat vegetarian dumplings!
Last month, I was preparing an all vegetarian private dinner for a client and I realized that I needed more vegetarian dumpling fillings on Eat Cho Food. I have these from last year (wow, my pleats have gotten so much better!) and this mushroom filling, which is honestly one of my favorite filling options. Turns out a lot of people don’t really like mushrooms??? So for the the mushroom adverse dumpling lovers out there, I wanted to make a great vegetarian dumpling that everyone would love - even the meat eaters out there. This dumpling is fairly simple. The filling consists of carrots and bok choy as the main vegetables. Then we add garlic, ginger, and a few sauces that everyone should have in their pantry as the main flavor boosters.
When I make a vegetarian dumpling filling, I like to actually cook the vegetables first. That’s because vegetables contain a lot of water. If you were to salt and flavor your raw vegetables, the moisture from those vegetables will come out and the filling will be wet and soggy. We don’t want soggy dumplings. You could drain the liquid by squeezing it out with a kitchen towel or cheese cloth, but that’s like my least favorite activity to do in the kitchen. It’s so much work and it’s so messy! The extra benefit of cooking the vegetables first is extra flavor! I cook the vegetables in butter (you could also use olive oil), which lends some richness to a vegetarian filling. Meat fillings have animal fat for that richness, so if you’re down for butter I encourage you use it! Fat=flavor after all!
When you taste these Ginger Carrot and Bok Choy Dumplings you’ll think that there are 100 more ingredients in there. It tastes so much more complex than it was to make it. The best way to describe the flavor is just insanely good carrot flavor. The carrots get really creamy and contribute a little bit of sweetness to balance the bitterness from the bok choy and the savoriness from the garlic and soy sauce. The ginger and Sriracha add a nice subtle heat that’s not too overpowering too. Mmmmmm it really is so good! When I served this as a filling option at my Crystal Dumpling workshop, this one was by far the class favorite!
How to Make a Crispy Dumpling Skirt
Now, let’s talk about the other star of the show! This dumpling skirt! I’m still not sure if that’s what you call it…. dumpling skirt? lacy bottom? crispy skirt? dumpling lace? None of those terms sound particularly appetizing. But I’m going to stick with dumpling skirt because I think it sounds the funniest.
That crispy and light as air crunchy stuff you see around the dumplings is actually just a combination of flour and water. You could also use cornstarch instead of flour if you like. When the flour and water are whisked together you’re making a super thin batter. So that when you add it into the pan of dumplings, the water evaporates and cooks the dumplings, while the remaining flour cooks in the oil to create a crunchy and savory cracker like lace! The juices from the dumpling filling mix with the flour mixture and gives it such a good flavor! It’s a little hard to have dumplings without the dumpling skirt afterwards.
All you have to do is add 2 tbsp of oil (or enough to evenly coat your pan) over medium heat. Arrange some dumplings in the pan and fry them until the bottoms are golden brown. You can arrange them neatly if you like since they will stay in place once the flour and water mixture is added. Combine 1/4 cup of water and 1 tsp of flour in a small cup. Pour the mixture in the pan and cover the lid to steam. After 5-6 minutes, remove the lid and admire the lacy cracker in the pan. Allow any extra moisture to cook off. Now this is the part where you need to concentrate. Place a plate over the pan and with your hand firmly supporting the plate carefully invert the pan so that dumplings are now on the plate. Take a deep breathe and commit! It’s a lot easier if the plate is a little bigger than the pan.
Crack into the dumplings and enjoy them as is or with your favorite dipping sauce! I’m on a chili oil kick obviously : )
Gingery Carrot and Bok Choy Dumplings with Crispy Skirt
makes 32 dumplings
4 bok choy bulbs - chopped
4 medium carrots - grated or minced in a food processor
2 tbsp butter or olive oil
4 garlic cloves - minced
1 tbsp minced ginger
1/2 tsp salt
heavy dash of white pepper
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sriracha
2 tbsp cornstarch
olive oil for cooking
32 dumpling wrappers
crispy skirt materials (per batch):
1/4 cup water
1 tsp all purpose flour
Heat a skillet over medium high heat and melt your butter. Add bok choy, carrots, garlic, ginger, salt, and white pepper. Cook and stir occasionally for 7-8 minutes, until all the liquid has cooked off. Place in a bowl to cool. Add in cornstarch, soy sauce, sesame oil, and Sriracha. Mix until combined. Filling should be completely cooled before wrapping dumplings.
Take one wrapper and place a scant tablespoon of filling in the center. Fold into desired shape. Repeat with remaining dumplings and place dumplings on a lightly floured baking tray until ready to be cooked.
Add 2 tbsp of olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium heat. Swirl the pan so it is evenly coated with oil. Add a single layer of dumplings to your pan. Sear on the flat side until the bottom is golden brown. Mix together 1/4 cup of water and 1 tsp of all purpose flour. Pour the mixture into the pan and cover with a lid. Steam the dumplings for 5-6 minutes. Remove the lid and allow any leftover water to cook off. Admire your crispy skirt! Place a plate over the pan and carefully flip the pan over onto the plate. You have to commit! Repeat with remaining dumplings.
Enjoy with soy sauce or chili oil!