Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Broccoli and Mushroom Steamed Dumplings

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I'm sure lots of people disagree, but I find winter cooking a bit depressing. I miss the variety of summer produce. I wish there are better fruit options besides apples and oranges (snore), which are currently occupying substantial real estate at Milk Pail. And I'm sick of winter squashes. I know that in California (the land of milk and honey), I can go to Whole Foods and buy a 6-dollar half pint of blueberries or a 5-dollar small bunch of asparagus. But (an accidental 10-dollar melon aside) we don't splurge much on food around here -- it's all about eating well cheaply and healthfully.

Here, I use some commonly found ingredients to make this uncommon dish. Broccoli is not an ingredient that you find in steamed dumplings a lot, but I like the bright bitterness of broccoli paired with the earthiness of the mushrooms. Although this is an economical recipe (you can make 60 dumplings for less than $10), it is also labor intensive. So be forewarned, don't try to whip this out after work, you'll be making dumplings until midnight. This is a good weekend project and dumplings freeze well -- dumplings are the essential freezer food for days when cooking from fresh is not an option.

You'll need:
  • 1 package of dumpling wrappers (if you prefer to pan fry these dumplings, I recommend using potsticker wrappers)
  • 4 medium heads of broccoli
  • 1 cup of frozen fava beans or edamame
  • 6 ounces of fresh shiitake mushrooms, stem removed and quartered
  • 2 sprigs of scallion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon of five spice powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons of shao hsing wine (Chinese cooking wine) (optional)
Start by quickly blanching broccoli head and edamame in boiling water for 4 minutes. Then immediately  shock in ice cold water. Drain. In a food processor, puree broccoli, edamame, mushrooms and scallion until it becomes finely chopped. You should be able to mold the mixture into small balls with your hands. Transfer mixture into a large prep bowl and add ginger, five spice powder, soy sauce, salt, sesame oil and white pepper. Mix well.

Add a dollop of the mixture in the middle of the dumpling wrapper, leaving about 1/4 inch around the edge. Dampen half of the edge, fold the dry edge onto the dampened edge and pinch the middle together. Then fold pleats in toward the middle and pinch shot. Steam for 20 minutes or boil for 8 minutes. Serve with soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce or a combination of the three.

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