Happy 2015! How was your new year? Mine has involved a lot of lollygagging, which I am extra good at once I tell myself to put the cell phone down and step away from the computer. I’ve been cooking a lot of fun stuff, including a bunch of chanterelle mushrooms. Manresa restaurant chefs Jessica Largey and Aisha Ibrahim showed up for dinner on January 1 holding the mushrooms as if they were bouquets of flowers. They’d spent the day picking citrus and foraging chanterelles for the restaurant and shared a little of their bounty with me!
I woke up on January 2 pondering what to do with the mushrooms, which weighed about 3 pounds total; most of them were the size of grapefruits. On the VWK Facebook page, people concurred with adding them to noodles, maybe dumplings, and also just cooking them with lots of butter.
I decided to first try them in a dumpling.
Instead of sesame oil, I used butter and cooked the mushroom first to concentrate its flavor. Fresh mushroom can get lost in dumpling fillings. I paired the chanterelle with ground chicken for savory depth and shrimp for a sweet-briny flourish. My hope was for the butter to allow the mushroom flavor to be fully expressed, to create a rich tasting filling.
I pan-fried the dumplings as pot stickers and while they tasted terrific, the shrimp flavor stood out the most. I didn’t taste the mushroom. It lingered in the background in a delicate manner, like a soft down pillow. I liked the filling a lot but the buttery mushroom didn’t pop.
Dumplings fillings can be nicely expressed via poaching so I gently boiled some of the dumplings and served them in a broth flavored by the shrimp shells saved from making the filling; soy sauce and salt seasoned the broth. There’s napa cabbage for sweetness and celery leaves for punch. I also added chanterelles that had been cooked in butter with garlic until intensely flavored and richly colored. The broth was enriched by the mushroom, which echoed the filling big time. That sparked things up and tied everything together into a graceful presentation.
So what are the lesson gained from this experiment? I learned . . .
- Whether you’re talking fresh chanterelle, king oyster or shiitake, they are delicate creatures. They’re often used in Korean dumplings like this one. Cooking them helps to coax out flavor but don’t expect them to say, “There’s fungus among us dumplings!”
- Butter is an nice fat to use in dumpling fillings. I’ve mostly used it for Nepalese momos (see the vegetarian and cheese momo recipe in Asian Dumplings, page 53). Let the butter brown a tad for rich flavor. If you have time, make brown butter and use it to cook the mushroom. For great flavor, use good-quality butter – like the kind you’d spread on bread.
- To bring the fresh mushroom flavor home, add some on the side. That can be in the broth if you’re serving the dumplings as the main feature in a soup. Or, stir-fry the mushroom with broccoli or a similar green vegetable.
For the dipping sauce, keep to soy sauce. Chile oil, garlic, or ginger muddles the mushroom flavor.
A few final notes: You can substitute shiitake or oyster mushroom for the chanterelles used in this filling. If you’re allergic to shrimp, use more mushroom and chicken instead. Take a cue from the Koreans and use a bit of tofu instead of extra chicken but keep the boost of mushroom. Or, use more chicken and some finely chopped napa cabbage, keeping the mushroom quantity the same; salt and squeeze the napa to remove excess liquid, as you would for many Asian dumpling fillings.
I still have more mushroom so I’ll be cooking some chanterelles up with noodles too.
Chanterelle, Shrimp and Chicken Dumpling
Yield: 2 cups filling, enough for 32 to 48 dumplings
- 5 ounces (150 g) fresh chanterelle mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, super-flavorful kind preferred
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 5 ounces (150 g) raw, peeled shrimp
- 4 ounces (120 g) ground dark meat chicken
- 1/3 cup (90 ml) chopped green onion (light and dark parts)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons regular soy sauce, plus more as needed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 48 purchased pot sticker/gyoza skins or 1 batch basic dumpling dough (see Asian Dumplings, page 22)
- Soy sauce and purchased or homemade chile oil
- Hand shred the mushroom along its natural grain then chop. Heat the butter in a skillet then add the garlic. When aromatic and light golden, add the chanterelle and light sprinkle of salt. Cook for about 2 minutes, until fragrant, soft, and roughly a third of the original volume. Set aside in a bowl to cool.
- Chop the shrimp into pieces the size of peanuts or large peas. Add to the mushroom with the chicken, green onion and ginger. Mash and mix with a fork to combine.
- Stir together 1/8 teaspoon salt with the pepper, sugar, soy sauce, and water. Pour over the filling. Stir to mix, then switch to vigorously stir to combine super well and firm up. Cover and set aside to rest for 30 minute, or chill overnight.
- Use the filling to make dumplings. Use about 2 teaspoons for purchased wrappers, wetting the rim with water before closing. Use about 1 tablespoon for homemade wrappers; no water is needed for sealing.
- Pan-fry the dumplings in a skillet with oil and water. (See this recipe for guidance. You don’ t have to make a slurry for a crisp skirt, unless you want to. Just use water.) Or, gently poach in a pot of simmering water and then transfer to broth to serve as a soup. You could steam these dumplings for about 8 minutes too. Serve with soy sauce and chile oil.