Hi, from my parent’s couch! This is my fancy new office for the week. It’s actually not that bad because Food Network, TLC, or the local news is constantly on and my Mom is around to bring me snacks so I don’t have to worry about properly feeding myself for the next week! I swear that I’m 28 years old and not actually 16…
Reuben and I flew into Cleveland for a dear friend’s wedding! We danced, ate giant steaks, got overly excited by the french fry bar, and somehow avoided getting eaten up by mosquitos. Reub is back to real life in San Francisco right now and I’m staying an extra week to fit in some family Ohio time. Unlike past trips back home, where I’m in vacation mode and somehow always revert back to my 16 year old tendencies, I have to squeeze in time to actually work! Working for yourself doesn’t come with paid time off unfortunately. My goals for the week are to make pineapple buns (check!), make cocktail buns, learn how to make my grandma’s fried pork dumplings, catch up on some writing, answer all the emails, and eat apple cart ice cream at least twice before I fly home! So far, I’m on track to accomplish all of these things.
I might also treat my family to a private Eat Cho Food dumpling workshop! We will see how that goes… I have a feeling that my grandma is just going to ignore me and find my techniques and flavors completely absurd. Or maybe she will be super impressed with my pleating skills?!
These Shishito and Tofu Dumplings are definitely not traditional. If I made these for dinner everyone would be wondering where the meat went… we eat tofu with a side of meat around here. This recipe was inspired by a pasta dish we had at Flour + Water for Reuben’s birthday last month. They were blistered shishito rolled pastas in a pork sugo (like a tomato and pork ragu). It was mindblowing-y good! Shishitos are a little bitter, a little peppery, and sometimes very hot if you pick a spicy one out of the bunch! When the peppers are combined with the savory and slightly sweet pork sauce you get a very unlikely but very dynamic power couple!
I guess I’ve been living in California for too long or Reuben’s vegetarian tendencies are rubbing off on me, but I’ve been wanting to creating more and more vegetarian friendly versions of my favorite foods. The nice thing about not working with meat is that you don’t have to worry about disinfecting every square inch of our work surface in fear of meat cooties. Plus you can sort of eat more dumplings because tofu isn’t quite as filling as meat, which is definitely not a bad thing!
How To Make Homemade Spinach Dumpling Wrappers
I first experimented with making green dumpling wrappers with these bok choy dumplings. They look very different because I didn’t strain the spinach puree out and I also cooked the spinach in the hot water. At the time I was making those dumplings I was happy with the color and actually liked the speckled look of the spinach pulp. I like speckled things! But ever since then I’ve been dreaming of bright green dumpling wrappers that wouldn’t fade after steaming. So I took to the internet and researched a few more different methods. Straight up pureeing a lot of fresh spinach with hot water seemed like the most straightforward method to me.
I packed in a lot of spinach (2 cups to be exact!) into the cup of my immersion blender. I wanted these guys to be bright! Pour in 3/4 cup of just boiled water so the heat could wilt the spinach a little without dulling the color. I then blended everything for about 45 seconds until I got a smooth puree. Next you need strain the puree through a fine mesh sieve to separate the spinach pulp. Help the liquid separate from the pulp by gently pushing the puree through the sieve using a spoon or rubber spatula. Once you have 3/4 cup of deep green spinach water you’re good to go!
Now at this point you use the spinach water just as you would regular water in my dumpling wrapper recipe. Make sure the water is still very warm. If it has cooled a bit, just pop it into the microwave for a few minutes. Pour the spinach water into a bowl of Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour (10oz or 2 cups) and a pinch of salt. Mix together using a spoon or rubber spatula until all the liquid has been absorbed. Then knead the dough for 2-3 minutes until you have a smoothish ball. Use some muscle, the dough can handle it! Once the dough is smoothish, wrapper it in plastic wrap or stick in a ziplock bag to rest for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours. This step is key because the warm from the spinach water will help steam and hydrate the dough, which makes it so easy to work with!
Shishito Pepper and Tofu Vegetarian Dumpling Filling
The filling is just as important as the dumpling wrapper! As I mentioned earlier, this filling was inspired by a spicy pork and blistered shishito pasta we had last month. Instead of pork I subbed in tofu. When you crumble up firm tofu and flavor it with things like dark soy, Sriracha, and sugar, you get the texture and savory flavor of finely ground meat… sort of! It’s definitely still tofu!
You start by slicing the shishito peppers into thing slices, about 1/4”-1/2” thick. Throw out those stems. Heat up some oil in a skillet, cast iron is great if you have one. Add the peppers and cook them for a few minutes until the edges are starting to blister. Add in the tofu and seasonings. Break up the tofu with your spatula, but be mindful that the tofu with continue to crumble as you toss and stir the filling. Cook the filling for 5-7 minutes, until all the moisture has cooked off. We don’t want soggy dumplings. Remove the filling from the heat and place in a bowl to completely cool until you’re ready to wrap the dumplings.
I honestly can’t stop staring at these dumplings. They are like emerald little gems! You can fold the dumplings in any shape that you like! I folded these like soup dumplings, but any shape works. These were also just simply steamed, but frying these up potsticker style wouldn’t be a bad idea either! I wold just avoid boiling them because if the tops aren’t completely sealed they might burst in the boiling water.
These Shishito Peppers and Tofu Dumplings bring back memories of that inspirational pasta dish. The dumpling dough is supple but perfectly chewy. The tofu is salty, earthy, and just slightly sweet from a pinch of sugar. You can taste the slight blistered char on the peppers - my favorite part of the dumpling! Once you add some chili oil and soy sauce to these bad boys they pretty much disappear from your plate in a matter of seconds!
Shishito and Tofu Dumplings
makes 32 dumplings
spinach dumpling dough:
2 cups packed spinach
3/4 cup just boiled water
10 oz (2 cups) Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Flour
pinch of salt
shishito and tofu dumpling filling:
1 block firm tofu
8 oz shishito peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
1 tbsp Sriracha
2 tbsp dark soy
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch
to make spinach dumpling dough:
Place spinach in the cup of an immersion blender or regular blender. Pour just boiled water over the spinach and blend for 45 seconds until smooth.
Strain spinach puree through a fine mesh sieve and into a glass measuring cup. Push the puree through the mesh using a rubber spatula until you have 3/4 cup of bright green liquid.
Place flour and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and pour the spinach water into the center. Mix with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until you have a clumpy dough. Begin kneading the dough for 2-3 minutes until you have a smoothish dough ball. Place dough in a ziplock bag and allow the dough to rest for at least 15 minute or up to 2 hours.
to make dumpling filling:
chop the shishito peppers into 1/4” - 1/2” slices. Discard the stems. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the sliced shishito peppers into the pan and sauté while stirring frequently for 5 minutes or until the edges are slightly blistered.
Cut up the tofu into chunks and add to the pan. Season with salt, white pepper, Sriracha, dark soy, and sugar. Use a spatula to break the tofu into smaller crumbles. The tofu will continue to crumble as you sauté. Cook for another 5-7 minutes, until all the moisture has cooked of. Place dumpling filling in a bowl. Mix in cornstarch and allow the dumpling filling to completely cool, either on the counter or in the fridge.
to assemble dumplings:
Lightly flour your work surface. Remove dough from the ziplock bag. Cut dough in half and keep one half in the bag. Roll out one half of your dough into a 1” thick rope. Cut into 16 equally sized pieces. Place pieces of dough in the ziplock bag to prevent drying out. Roll out 1 piece of dough into a 3.5” disc with a small rolling pin. Place a scant tablespoon of filling in the center of your round dumpling wrapper, avoid over filling. Fold according to desired shape. This round pleat and my simple dumpling pleat can found on my Instagram Highlights! Repeat process with remaining dumplings and place dumplings on a lightly floured baking tray until ready to be cooked.
To steam dumplings, bring a pot of water to a boil. Line a bamboo steamer, that’s the same diameter as the pot of boiling water, with perforated parchment paper or cabbage leaves. Fill the steamer with dumplings. Make sure the dumplings are not touching. Cover the steamer with the lid and steam for 6-7 minutes. Remove the steamer from the pot and lift the lid to allow the steam to release. Allow the dumplings to cool slightly.
Serve immediately with chili oil and/or soy sauce!