Though born in the south, I have liked the northern wheat-based food for a long time. It's such a pity that I don't have skills like the northerners do to make such things, because my "paws" are the "thin and strengthless" type. It gives me a headache to think of hand-kneading the dough. So since I live alone, I haven't had the chance to taste homemade dumplings. Sure, there are frozen dumplings in the supermarket, but they're all made of meat; the dumplings in normal restaurants are also mostly of meat, with only one or two kinds which contain Chinese chives or egg, neither of which is to my liking. The only places where I can enjoy veggie dumplings are the vegetarian restaurants, where the price is so high. Plus, living in the suburbs makes the journey to a restaurant in town pretty troublesome (well to an otaku it is). So, I finally decided to overcome this great task myself, and quite to my surprise, it's not as terrible as I imagined! Just like the Chinese sayings goes: there are no difficulties in the world if one dares to try. By the way, in the south, the dumpling dough is kneaded, rolled, and cut into small, round pieces by a lid, while in the north the dough is divided into small pieces, and each time it needs to be rolled flat and then wrapped. Here I adopted the northern method.
Yields 30 to 40, or 4 servings
400g Tibetan barley dumpling flour
1 bag/400g Qishan vegetarian filling
two carrots, cubed
200g mushroom, sliced
1 leek stalk, diced
1. Cut the carrots, mushrooms, and leek. Pour them into the food processor and process until it's well mashed. Mix with the vegetarian filling and set aside.
2. Add water to 2/3 of the flour, mix well, and add the rest of the flour slowly to form a firm dough. Knead well.
3. Divide the dough into small pieces (the size varies depending on how big you want your dumplings to be).
4. Every time you make a dumpling, roll one small piece of dough on the board to a flat round disc. Use a spoon to scoop the filling into the middle, fold and press hard, and then from the middle knead the edge of the dough, proceeding to the left and right sides. Place the finished dumpling between your palms and thumbs, and press hard to finish the last "gluing" part. Pay attention to your fingers: you shouldn't touch the filling as it contains water or oil, which makes the "gluing" difficult.
5. Place the dumplings in a bamboo steamer lined with cloth. Steam for 15 mins under highest heat.
Sichuanese native and Chengdu resident Annie blogs about her adventures in cooking vegetarian meals, adapting recipes from around the world. Recently she has translated some of her favorite posts into English for GoChengdoo readers to enjoy. The original, Chinese-language version of this post can be viewed here. Photo by Annie Chen.
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