Eeeeeeek! Our Chinese New Year party is this weekend! Are you inviting over your whole neighborhood for a feast? Or maybe just going over to your parents’ house for dinner? I love Chinese New Year so much and I always get a little sentimental around this time of year. Who am I kidding… I’m always sentimental. When I think of CNY I think of my family, a table filled with food, hopeful spirits, and hearts overflowing with generosity. Everything that I love. I start to feel a little blue though because I actually haven’t been able to spend CNY with my family in like 5 years. San Francisco can feel SO FAR from Cleveland sometimes. In order to prevent myself from becoming a leaking soup dumpling, I try to make sure we celebrate this wonderful holiday with some friends each year!
In years past, we’ve either gone out for dinner with a group of pals for an easy peasy celebration or pull off a Thanksgiving caliber cooking production and make big feast with all the classics. There are always dumplings, noodles, and a giant pot of steamed rice involved. You may also find a beautiful steamed fish, some juicy roast duck, or a crispy pork belly on the table. Oh, and probably a plate of Chinese broccoli or pea shoots tossed in oyster sauce for HEALTH. This year, our dinner celebration will be a little different, because we weren’t keeping track of how many people we invited… at this point about 40 people are coming over. OMG. I unfortunately do not have a 100 foot long dining table… yet. So we’re going to take a different approach with the food this year and make everything a little more party friendly!
Here is my tentative menu below:
Asian Crudité Platter with Sesame Dipping Sauce and/or Charred Scallion Ranch Dip
Medley of Asian Snacks from my childhood - think shrimp chips and all the rice crackers
Chili Oil Popcorn
Build Your Own Bao Station - Steamed baos with an assortment of fillings like cucumbers, kimchi, fried tofu, and tasty sauces
A Chop Shop - where Reuben will be chopping bits of roast duck and pork for people to munch on or tuck into their bao
BBQ buns - I’m going to cheat and get these from Good Luck Dim Sum haha
Garlic Noodles - this recipe x1000000
Charred Veggie Glass Noodles - I’m working on making this recipe for a blog post!
Cho Family’s Classic Potstickers - not sharing this recipe until I get a book deal : )))))
These here Crystal Mushroom Dumplings!
Chocolate and Oolong Tea Petite Fours - experimenting with this as a blog recipe. Serving my test batches that are napping in the freezer right now
Persimmons and Whipped Cream
Maybe some Marco Polo gelato if Alex pulls through for me!
Do you think that’s enough food? I hope it’s enough food. We can order some pizzas if people are still hungry.
These Crystal Mushroom Dumplings were created for my vegetarian and also gluten free friends! I love crystal dumplings so much because they have such a great chewy texture. Something that I love so much! Plus the wrappers are naturally gluten free, which I think also makes you feel like you can fit a million more dumplings in your belly. Mushrooms are probably my favorite vegetarian dumpling filling. They still taste meaty and have a texture that holds up in the dumpling. When you read the recipe you will notice that there are cashews in there. If you think that’s weird, it’s not. All sorts of nuts are really common ingredients in Chinese dumplings, especially in vegetarian dumplings. They add a bit of protein and a nice crunch to the otherwise chewy dumpling. If you’re allergic nuts, just omit them and maybe add a few more mushrooms in the filling to compensate. Or even crispy fried garlic would be a great flavor and texture substitute!
Alright, friends. I need to start prepping and getting ready for the big day! I’m very grateful for freezers right now. HAPPY ALMOST CHINESE NEW YEAR! Invite all your friends over for dinner! Any maybe that person you want to be friends with too! There is always room at the table during Chinese New Year!
Crystal Mushroom Dumplings
makes 32 dumplings
mushroom filling :
1lb mushrooms (I used a blend of shiitakes and oyster mushrooms)
3 green onions - chopped
3 garlic cloves - minced
1/2 tsp salt
heavy dash of white pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup finely chopped cashews
2 tsp dark soy
1/2 tsp sesame oil
crystal dumpling wrapper:
1 1/2 cup wheat starch
pinch of salt
1 cup just boiled water
3 tsp olive oil
To make your filling, start by washing and cleaning your mushrooms. Roughly chop the mushrooms into 1/2” to 1” pieces. Heat a skillet over medium high heat and melt your butter. Add in mushrooms, minced garlic cloves, the whites of the green onions, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7-8 minutes. At first a lot of liquid will cook out of the mushrooms, but after 7-8 minutes the water should have mostly evaporated and the mushrooms are a little caramelized. Remove mushrooms from the pan and place in a bowl to cool.
Once mushrooms have cooled to room temperature. Add in cornstarch, dark soy, sesame, cashews, and the greens of the green onions. Mix until combined. Taste and season with a bit more salt or pepper if necessary. Set filling aside.
Start by making your dough. Add wheat starch and salt into a large bowl. Give it a quick mix. Make a well in the middle of the wheat starch. Slowly pour in the just boiled water and gently mixed in the wheat starch with a wooden spoon until the water is absorbed. It will still look dry and crumbly. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the wheat starch to steam for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes add in olive oil and start to knead the dough with your hands. Knead for a few minutes until you get a smooth dough. It will resemble playdough! If the dough feels a little dry add another teaspoon of olive oil. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for at least 10 minutes.
Divide the dough in half. Roll out half the dough into a 1” coil and cut into 16 equal pieces. Do the same with the second half. Take 1 portion of dough and roll out into a 3” circle. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling into the wrapper. Carefully fold the dumpling like a taco in the form of a half circle. Pinch the seam tightly to seal. The dough feels fragile, but it’s also forgiving once steamed. Don’t worry if you have a few holes. Repeat with the remaining dumplings and place on a baking tray. Dust the tray with a bit of cornstarch to help them from sticking. Cover dumplings with a clean kitchen towel so they don’t dry out.
Bring a pot of water to boil. Line a bamboo steamer (same width as your pot) with parchment paper (punched with holes) or cabbage leaves. Place a few dumplings in the steamer. Dumpling should not be touching. Place the steamer with lid on top of the pot and steam for 6-7 minutes. Repeat with remaining dumplings.
Eat immediately and enjoy with soy sauce.