Japanese Vegetable Dumplings with Ponzu Dipping Sauce (Yasai Gyoza)

The popularity of the dumpling spans the globe with nearly every cuisine stuffing various ingredients into pockets of dough then steaming, frying, boiling or baking them.  While I have yet to find a dumpling that I didn’t like, I am particularly fond of East Asian dumpling variations.  Wontons, mandu, pot stickers, momos, shumai, gyoza— from region to region, Asian dumplings vary even more in ingredients than they do in name.Dumplings--Tofu & Veggie

Because they can be time-consuming to make, take advantage of the economy of scale and prepare a bunch at once.  It may take you 50 minutes to assemble them all, but if you make enough for 2 or 3 servings, well then, you actually saved time, didn’t you?  My heart is filled with an unmatched feeling of self-satisfaction when I pull a homemade meal out of the freezer and have it on the table in less than 15 minutes.  “Yes, I am Supermom.  Oh, please, stop. It’s nothing.”

Cooking with Kids:

I do a lot of culinary art project with my kids instead of crafty ones that usually end up in the trash the week or sometimes the day they were made.  I can’t help it. Besides hating clutter, I have a bit of an obsession with usefulness and efficiency. Cooking with kids kills a couple of birds with one stone—fun together time, creative exploration and a nourishing meal to boot. So put down that empty toilet paper roll you were crafting into a bunny and get in the kitchen with your kids and start folding dumplings. Making dumplings exercises their small motor skills while fostering  their creativity.  Use scissors to snip and cut ingredients down to tiny bits.  Vary how you fold the dumpling to be even more creative.   I thought this video “How To Fold Gyoza” from Not Just Rice showed a couple of good variations. Our particular favorite is one we call “paper hat.”

Japanese Vegetable Dumplings with Ponzu Dipping Sauce (Yasai Gyoza)
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer or side dish
Cuisine: Japanese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 30 dumplings
 
The shitake mushrooms add umami (meaty flavor) to this delightful dumpling. Even devout carnivores will find it difficult to stop eating these.
Ingredients
  • ½ lb. firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped (¼ cup)
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped (¼ cup)
  • 2 green onions, minced (2 T)
  • 4 small rehydrated or fresh shitake mushrooms, finely chopped (¼ cup)
  • 2 T finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated
  • ½ t ginger, grated
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1 T soy sauce
  • ½ t salt
  • ¼ t white pepper
  • 1 t sesame seed oil
  • 2 t corn or potato starch
  • 30 wonton wrappers, any shape
  • ½ cup of stock or water
  • Oil
  • PONZU DIPPING SAUCE
  • Rice wine vinegar or fresh squeezed lemon or citron juice
  • Soy sauce
Instructions
  1. MAKING THE FILLING
  2. Rinse the tofu. Next drain the tofu by wrapping it in a tea towel and placing it between 2 boards or plates. Allow it to stand like this for 20 minutes. The pressure from the top plate will press out excess water.
  3. Meanwhile, prep and mix the next 14 ingredients (stop at corn starch; don't include the wonton wrappers or beyond).
  4. Crumble the drained tofu and gently mix with the other ingredients.
  5. WRAPPING THE WONTONS
  6. Place 1 – 2 teaspoons of filling into the center of a wrapper.
  7. Dip your finger in a small bowl of water and moisten the edge of half the wrapper.
  8. Join the corners to form a triangle.
  9. Gather both sides of the wonton and press edges to seal.
  10. Freeze or cook immediately.
  11. COOKING INSTRUCTIONS
  12. Heat a non-stick pan under a medium-high flame and brush with oil.
  13. Once hot place a few dumplings (do not crowd) in the pan and fry for 1 - 2 minutes, until the edges start to turn golden.
  14. Next add 2 tablespoons of stock or water to the hot pan and cover with a lid; reduce heat to medium and cook another 2 minutes. (This steams them.)
  15. Remove from pan and continue the process until all of the dumplings are served.
  16. To make this simplified version of ponzu, combine equal parts citron juice, lemon juice or rice wine vinegar to soy sauce. Garnish and flavor the ponzu with minced green onion, grated ginger, pepper flakes or sesame seed oil.
Notes
You can substitute the carrot and bell pepper with finely chopped Napa or green cabbage. Be sure to squeeze out as much water from the veggies as possible.

Dumpling--Crumbling Tofu

My little one likes using her large motor skills to squish the tofu.

Storage:

Place the dumplings that you plan to freeze on cookie sheets covered with waxed paper.  Once frozen, transfer the dumplings to freezer-safe boxes or bags.  Be sure to label and date and contents clearly.  They should keep in the freezer for 3 – 6 months.  Dumplings--prepared