I’ve had pumpkin
dumplings in Monterey Park and Beijing, their pretty tangerine-colored filling of
grated winter (hard) squash were unpleasantly bland and sometimes undercooked. It’s
an Asian dumpling that I’ve let simmer on the back burner for a while and didn’t
tackle till this week, when faced with leftover roasted kabocha squash. My
husband Rory said, “Let’s make Italian raviolis with the kabocha.”
with this dumpling filled with roasted squash, earthy shiitake and parsnip, and upbeat
celery. The seasonings involve fried shallot, lots of ginger and enough garlic
for pungent depth. I wanted the ingredients to support and elevate the natural sweetness of the kabocha. I’d planned on adding soy sauce but in the end, there was so
much great flavor from the vegetables that the only seasoning I added was salt.
In other words, gluten-free dumpling eaters, this
filling is for you too! No need to get the wheat-free tamari out. See the link at the end of this post for gluten-free dumpling dough options.
thing about a dumpling filling is that you can use it for boiled, steamed, pan-fried,
or deep-fried dumplings. I made my basic dumpling dough and tried the result in
three cooking methods. I also put the filling in wonton skins and poached them. The point is this: Asian dumplings are inherently flexible.
Which cooking method worked best? As much as love the
crispiness of pot stickers, the delicate and varied flavors of this filling is
best showcased via a poached dumpling; treat it like a ravioli but tumble it in
chile oil, soy sauce and vinegar.
nifty about this filling is that you can tweak
it to be vegetarian or not. The recipe below is vegan but if you substitute
diced ham, sausage or fried bacon for the mushroom, you have a flavorful
low-meat dumpling. Finally, since the filling is cooked, you can taste and tweak
the flavors as you go along without fear of raw meat.
“This is the
best thing you’ve made in a while,” my husband said. Really? Not the roast duck
at New Year? What about the rava dosa and matar paneer?
“No, this is
really good. Did you use a recipe?” he followed. Nope, I made it up. Here’s the
recipe for you to add to your dumpling recipe collection. Try it out for Lunar
New Year/Chinese New Year!
The kabocha needs some texture so use the part that are on the firm side – that
you can dice. It’s fine to have a bit of mashed squash but aim for tiny chunks,
which will mush down during cooking so it’s better to start out firmer, lest
the filling gets too heavy in the end.
How to roast a kabocha squash? I hack it into large 4 to 6 pieces (use a heavy cleaver), scrape out the seeds and rub the flesh with canola oil and soy sauce. Then I roast it, one cut side down, at 425F until I can easily stab it with a fork or knife.
Roasted Kabocha and Vegetable Dumplings
Yield: 32 to 48 dumplings, depending on the wrapper you choose
- 2 tablespoon canola oil
- 1 medium-large shallot, chopped (1/2 cup
/ 2 oz / 60 g total)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
- 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup / 60 g diced parsnip
- 1/2 cup / 60 g diced celery
- 3 medium dried shiitake mushroom,
reconstituted, trimmed and chopped (1/2 cup / 60 g)
- About 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Sesame oil
- 6 oz / 180 g roasted kabocha squash,
diced and/or chopped
- 1 pound of Basic Dumpling Dough (see
page 22 of Asian Dumplings) or
about 48 storebought wonton, dumpling, or pot sticker skins
- Soy sauce
- Unseasoned rice vinegar or Chinkiang
- Chile oil, purchased or homemade (see
page 216 of Asian Dumplings)
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over
medium-high heat. Add the shallot and fry, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes
until fragrant turning a golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic, cook,
until aromatic. Then add the parsnip, celery, and mushroom. Sprinkle on
the salt, cook for several minutes, until partway cooked. Taste a piece to
test. If needed, splash in water or any leftover mushroom soaking liquid
to coax the cooking. When done, drizzle on some sesame oil, stir to
combine, then remove from the heat.
- Add the squash, mix, then taste. Season
with extra salt as needed for a savory-sweet flavor. Set aside for about
30 minutes for flavors to develop before using. Makes about 2 cups that
you can keep refrigerated for a couple of days.
- If you’re using the Basic Dumpling Dough
from the Asian Dumplings
cookbook, you’ll use a tablespoon for each one. If you’re using purchased
dumpling skins, you’ll use about 2 teaspoons for each; remember to seal them
well. You can make these any shape you want: half moon, pea pod, big hugs
or pleated crescents. (See this
link on Asian Dumpling Tips for video tips.)
- To cook the dumplings, poach them in a
pot of boiling water and fish them out after they look gauzy and puffy.
Or, steam them until the skins are translucent. Or pan-fry the dumplings
in a skillet with a little water (like pot stickers) in a fry-steam-fry
method of cooking. Serve the dumplings with soy sauce, vinegar and chile
oil. Invite guests to mix up their own sauce. I like all three for a salty, tangy, and spicy finish.