The humble dumpling. It comes in so many shapes, sizes, flavours and can be found in more cuisines around the world than I knew. Polish pierogi, Nepalise momo, Korean mandu, Japanese gyoza, Chinese jiaozi, African fufu, German kartoffelknoedel, Jewish Kreplacj and I would even go so far as calling Italian ravioli a type of dumpling. It was only when I started my research that I learnt how many varieties of dumplings there are around the world. We forget how much we all have in common.
My favourite dumplings are the Shanghainese xiaolongbao steamed soup dumplings and pan-fried dumplings, which I could easily devour 30 in one sitting. When I was living in Sydney I would often eat Yum Cha (also known as Dim Sum in Britain) on a regular basis just for the dumplings. It is a big deal there and it is taken really seriously. Everyone has their favourite dishes and favourite restaurants. We would sit for hours eating dish after dish and drink copious amounts of jasmine tea before feeling lethargic and ready for a nap. The meal wasn't complete before ending it on egg tarts.
They are easier to make than they look. You can be as creative as you want with their fillings. I generally veer towards the pork or seafood fillings but this vegetarian version with tofu and kimchi is really tasty, especially when pan-fried. It's amazing how much flavour can be packed into such a small mouth size package. To make life easier, you can easily buy frozen dumpling wrappers from Asian grocery stores. If you feel like making your own wrappers from scratch, you could follow this recipe.
Thankfully this recipe yields a mini mountain of dumplings because you will want to eat them all yourself!
When it comes time to eating, ditch the chopsticks and dig in with your hands.
Makes approximately 80 dumplings depending on size of wrappers.
FOR THE DUMPLINGS
800g firm tofu
2 cups kimchi diced
1/2 cup spring onions finely sliced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 egg beaten
80 dumpling wrappers
1 small bowl of water
FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE
1 tbsp soy sauce
Sriracha chilli sauce or chilli oil
Place the tofu in a cheesecloth or tea towel and squeeze out as much of the liquid as possible. Place the tofu in a mixing bowl.
Do the same with the kimchi and squeeze out as much liquid as possible and add to the tofu.
Add the spring onions, garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, sesame oil, egg to the mixing bowl and mix well. The tofu will break up into small pieces whilst mixing.
Place 1 tsbp of the filling in the middle of the wrapper. How much you place will depend on the size of the wrapper. You want to ensure you do not overfill the wrapper. Wet your fingers in the bowl of water and trace the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to create a half circle, pinching the edges together tightly, and crease the edge to create small folds. There are various ways to fold dumplings - check out this video.
Heat your pan on medium heat and add 1 tsp of oil. Add the dumplings on one layer ensuring they don't touch each other on the pan. Fry the dumplings on one side for about 2-3 mins until golden brown, then flip them over to the other side and fry for another 2-3 mins. Add 1/4 cup water to the pan and quickly place the lid on top of the pan. Keep the lid on until the all the water has evaporated. The steam created with the lid on the pan will help cook the dumplings all the way through. Remove the lid and cook for another minute or so to make the dumplings crunchier.
These will go nicely with a side serving of kimchi and soju.