Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tofu Shiitake Dumplings in Spicy Peanut Broth

Growing up, I always heard my parents talk about these amazing dumplings they used to eat shortly after I was born, near Boston. They described, with near reverence, how the spicy broth was almost unbearably hot. This early exposure to wontons, much like an early exposure to language, primed me for a particular dumpling aptitude and appreciation.

I have my own fond memories of the chicken dumplings in spicy peanut broth I used to eat at Ho Chow’s when I was in high school. The sauce was so spicy that if you breathed wrong, you’d be coughing for the rest of dinner. Somehow, it was worth it, and I have longed for them ever since.

On a recent trip to Oregon, I had dinner at a great Asian fusion restaurant that skillfully combined Japanese, Chinese, Singaporean, and Thai flavors in each dish. To start, we enjoyed these delicate tofu stuffed dumplings in a light miso broth. The wontons were tender and perfect, but the broth was a little too mild for my taste. In my head, I paired them with that hot and spicy peanut broth, and couldn’t wait to create my own vegan version. 

Tofu Dumplings

1 package extra firm tofu
1/2 cup minced carrot,
1 cup minced shiitake mushrooms (you can use cremini if necessary; I also like to add a few maitakes)
1/2 cup minced cabbage
1 tablespoon ginger, finely grated
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame chili oil
1 package wonton or pot sticker wrappers (check to make sure there is no egg)

In a large sauté pan, stir fry the carrots, mushrooms, cabbage, ginger, and garlic until tender, about 7 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the vegetables, tofu, soy, and sesame oil. Combine with a fork (or use your hands) to break up the tofu and incorporate the other ingredients. Taste the filling, and add more soy sauce if necessary.

Place 1 heaping tablespoon filling in the center of the dumpling wrapper. Wet the edges with water and fold the edges to seal the dumpling.

You can steam the dumplings in a steaming basket over a wok of boiling water for 12-14 minutes, or boil the dumplings in boiling water for 5-6 minutes. Place on an oven safe plate and keep warm in a 200° oven.

Set aside to be combined with the peanut broth. 

Spicy Peanut Broth

1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup peanut butter
3 tbsp chili paste
1  1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame chili oil
2 sliced green onions

In a small saucepan, combine the vegetable stock, peanut butter, chili paste, rice vinegar, and soy sauce. Bring mixture to a simmer, and cook for 3-5 minutes, allowing all of the flavors to combine. Add more chili paste for heat. If the broth gets too thick, add more vegetable stock until it attains a smooth, thin consistency. Ladle the broth over the dumplings, drizzle with sesame chili oil, and finish with green onion. Serve immediately - as if you could wait!

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