Thursday, 3 March 2016

Vegetable Dumplings with Sichuan Sauce - Vegan

If you're a regular reader of my blog you'll know I'm not vegan, or vegetarian.  I like a roast chicken dinner and a pulled pork sandwich as much as the next omnivore.  However, I do eat a lot of vegan and vegetarian food because it's delicious... and I want delicious food on my plate regardless of the label it's been given.  I eat lots of exclusively plant-based meals because I live with 3 guys who would happily eat burgers and tacos every night and making vego meals gives them no option but to eat their greens.  Plus, I'd like to leave a slightly smaller footprint (I'm a size 9 with ballet dancers feet - so I need all the help I can get).  However, I do love local, organic cheese and butter (I live in a large dairy farming district - it would be rude not too), I eat homegrown eggs from my lovely little hens (I don't eat my hens) and I do chow down on locally sourced and ethically bred fish and meat.  Most of my friends are food growers, farmers and/or work in the food industry and I like to support them... I'm doing my best to spread the love around... and I'm also aware that the occasional meatless meal does not a vegan make, so please don't shoot me.  Having declared my position, let's get on with these awesome vegan dumplings.

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
Makes 30

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
300ml water
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.

Make the Dough:
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.


  1. Super impressed you made your own pastry. I'm afraid I'm way too lazy for all that. My resident carnivore will endure Meatless Mondays as long as there's proscuitto on the side. Sigh.....I kid you not they are all made the same.

  2. Aww Gen!!!!!! We have the same philosophy about food and love, organic, veggies, meats, etc. I love that!! I wish I wasn't living in a big city. At least, we have access to really nice products, especially with my veggies basket each week!! One day, my boyfriend and I are going to own a house with a big garden, some hens (It's a goal for me!) and I hope, a greenhouse to have fresh vegetables and fruits all year round. I love the fact that you put spinach in your dough! Next time I'm going to do that, I always make it plain. & love the dumplings, they're one of my many favourite food hihi :)

  3. Love this post. And those dumplings!