To those who celebrate Lunar New Year, happy new year! Growing up, my family didn’t put much stock into Chinese superstitions or rituals like the lion dance or eating uncut noodles. My parents were (and continue to be) deeply religious and had put aside old Chinese beliefs long before they started a family. However, we still celebrated Chinese New Year with red pocket money, local church and community fairs and FOOD! Being a kid, I never knew which particular food belonged to which Chinese holiday, I only knew that it was good. Damn good.
This year, with no Chinese family or friends around, I decided to celebrate in my own small way. With dumplings 🙂
First, I made sure to prepare for the arrival of the new year by cleaning house. Then, on Chinese New Year’s Eve, I made it all dirty again by trying my hand at making dumplings from scratch. I had never attempted to make the wrappers before as they are really cheap and easy to buy at many major grocery chains. However, on this day, I didn’t feel like leaving the house–too damn cold outside. I’ve been staying in a lot this winter.
So I started with a basic recipe from this video about making gyoza. Then, to two of the three batches I made, I added some color. For the green dough, I added spinach juice and for the yellow dough, I added tumeric.
For the fillings, I went through my cupboards and fridge to see what I had to work with. Luckily, I had some great ingredients to work with.
The first dumpling filling were full of shiitake mushrooms. I had a bunch of dehydrated ones and some dried black fungus slices. Could they be any MWOAR Chinese-y ingredients? hehe. Never had black fungus before? It basically tastes like nothing…maybe a little mushroomy with a texture like cooked asparagus.
I used a few re-hydrated shiitakes, a cup of re-hydrated black fungus slices, garlic, ginger powder (I would’ve used fresh if I had any), roasted sesame oil, a vegetable bouillon cube and put that all through a magic bullet.
The second filling utilized a can of young jackfruit that I’ve had in the fridge (why the fridge when it was canned? I dunno) since summer. I was almost out of Singapore curry mix so I thought I’d use up the last of it. I just rinsed the jackfuit and sauteed it with 1 cup of minced onions, a few cloves of garlic, ginger powder, a little over one tablespoon of the Singarpore curry mix, and finished with a bit of strong vegetable broth. The result was absolutely delicious.
I found out later though, I should have mashed up the jackfruit more. The larger chunks didn’t absorb the curry and vegetable broth flavours very well, so they reminded me of water chestnuts in taste and texture. Did I mention that I absolutely despise water chestnuts? Ew.
For the green dumplings, I made a simple filling of spinach, garlic with a touch of ginger. I cooked the spinach down in some veggie broth and mixed it with 2 cloves of minced garlic and some ginger powder.
This process of making the dough, three different kinds of fillings, and wrapping the dumplings took all day long! I started in the kitchen at about 7:30am and finished at around 5pm. Of course, I stepped away for breaks every once in a while and had lunch too, but at the end of it, my feet were KILLING me and I thought I’d just buy pre-made dumplings next time.
But that was before I took my first bites. Each one had a unique flavour. I couldn’t decide on which was my favourite. The wrappers themselves were thick, chewy, and tasty. A little thicker than I would’ve liked (I probably should have rolled the dough thinner) but already my mind was full of ideas on how to improve the next batch!
So for now, I will not be posting the recipes as I will tweak them until they are PERFECT! Will that be next week? Next month or next year? Who is to say. In the meantime, happy new year! Wishing everyone health and prosperity in this Year of the Horse!