Half of our family (my husband and other son) were dining elsewhere, so I made these dumplings for an intimate dinner with my meat-loving twelve year old son and I. And by meat-loving, I mean this is the kid who will arm wrestle his father for the last beef cheek. When the tweenager learned that he was having vegetable dumplings for dinner, we was a tad underwhelmed, but accepting of his fate. I soldiered on with my mission to provide him with a vegified meal and dished these up, then watched him systematically hoover up all but the five I ate. I was so pleased that he enjoyed them and had a whole meal without any meat, I felt like an Earth Mother. Fast forward 20 minutes and I hear rummaging and rustling in the kitchen. The always-ravenous, hollow-legged, growing-like-a-weed boy says he's looking for something to eat because he's starrrrrrving. I explained that there was fresh bread if he wanted to make himself a sandwich. Five minutes later, out he sauntered with two thick slices of sourdough and sandwiched between them, a generous amount of prosciutto. Which just goes to show, you can lead a twelve year old carnivore to vegetables and you can even make them eat, but there'll always be room for bacon sandwich.
Vegetable Dumplings with Sichuan Sauce - Vegan
slightly adapted from here
For the Sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons Chinese black vinegar (Chinkiang)
2 tablespoon caster sugar
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1 teaspoon finely grated ginder
1 teaspoon finely grated garlic
2 tablespoons dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoons finely chopped chives
2 teaspoon roasted and ground Sichuan peppercorns
1 tablespoon Sambal Olek
1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander
1 1/2 tablespoon water
For the Filling:
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
2 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
200g mushrooms, stalks removed and roughly chopped (I used Swiss Browns)
200g wombok, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
Pinch white sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce.
For the Dough:
100g spinach leaves
500g plain flour, sifted
Vegetable oil, for cooking the dumplings
Make the Sauce:
Put all the sauce ingredients into a bowl, stir to combine and set aside.
Make the Filling:
Put the carrots into a food processor and blitz until finely chopped.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the chopped carrots and cook for about 2 minutes.
Put the mushrooms into the food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Add them to the pan with the chopped carrots and cook for about 1 minute.
Put the wombok into a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Add them to the pan with the chopped carrots and mushrooms and cook for about 1 minute.
Stir in the Shaoxing wine and cook for a further minute. Take the pan off the heat, add the sugar and soy sauce, stir to combine and set aside until the filling cools to room temperature.
Place the spinach into a pan and add 150ml of the water. Cook over medium-high heat until the spinach has just wilted, but is still a vibrant green. Remove, pour the mixture into a blender and blitz until smooth. Pass the puree through a fine mesh strainer and catch the juice in a jug, discard the solids.
Put the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre and pour the green liquid into the well. Add the remaining 150ml of water and mix until it comes together as a dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 5 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Make the Dumplings:
Divide the dough into 30 equal portions, and roll each portion into a ball about the size of a walnut. Working with one ball at a time (cover the others with a damp tea towel to prevent them from drying out) and roll it out on a lightly floured board to a disc about 10cm in diameter. Put two teaspoons of filling in the middle of the dough and then fold the dough in half into a semi-circle and pleat the edge to seal the filling in. Lay the dumping on a floured baking tray, pleated side up, while you get on with making the rest.
Cook the Dumplings:
Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Smear a little oil on the pan and , working in batches, lay the dumplings pleated side up in a single layer. Cook for about 2 minutes, until they start to sizzle, then pour enough water into the pan to come one quarter the way up the sides of the dumplings. Clamp on a lid and reduce the heat to medium. Cook until the water has evaporated. Remove the lid and continue to cook until the bottoms have a golden crust.
Transfer the dumplings to a serving platter and anoint with the Sichuan Sauce.