There is something incredibly comforting about freshly-steamed dumplings. They're hearty enough to fend off the last bit of chill in the April air, yet light enough that they won't slow your fresh spring pace. These can be enjoyed two different ways: as dumplings (i.e., steamed) or as potstickers (i.e., pan-fried and then briefly steamed). Either route paves the path to simple, heartwarming deliciousness.
To make these, you'll start by warming a bit of sesame oil in a pan. You'll add in a bit of minced garlic, sauté for a minute, and then add six ounces each of both shiitake and oyster mushrooms. After allowing the liquid to cook off and waiting for the mushrooms to take on a slight golden-brown hue, you'll stir in freshly-sliced scallions and cook for another few minutes. Season with sea salt and your filling is complete.
To fill the dumplings, you'll prepare a clean work station with a bowl of water, a pan lined with parchment paper, and about 24 round dumpling wrappers. Drop a ½-tablespoon mound of the filling into the center of a dumpling wrapper, dip your fingers in water and run them around the edge, fold the wrapper and press to seal. I always have the urge to over-stuff, and I've learned the hard way that less is truly more when it comes to dumplings and ravioli... and probably burritos, too. So, resist the desire to pile on the filling or you'll end up frustrated and/or with mushroom-fueled explosions in your steamer.
Now, the cooking path diverges, and you have a choice to make: will you steam or will you fry?
To make dumplings, simply steam until tender and translucent.
Potstickers require slightly more work, but you'll be rewarded with that quintessential golden-brown, stick-to-the-pan dumpling. To prepare them this way, heat about one tablespoon of refined coconut oil or another oil with a high smoke point in a large pan. Add the dumplings in a single layer and cook for a few minutes to develop a golden-brown crust on the bottom of each. Then, add in ¼ cup of water, cover the pan, and steam the potstickers for a few minutes or until tender and translucent.
Served alongside a salty, spicy, and tangy mixture of rice vinegar, tamari, and chili-garlic sauce? Perfection.
Shiitake & Oyster Mushrooms Dumplings
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 ounces oyster mushrooms, diced
- 6 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and diced
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 5 scallions, white and light green portions only, thinly sliced
- 24 circular dumpling, wonton, or gyoza wrappers*
- Refined coconut oil or other heat-tolerant oil, for cooking**
- Rice vinegar, to taste
- Reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce, to taste
- Chili-garlic sauce or sriracha, to taste
- Heat the sesame oil in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add in the garlic, stir with a large wooden spoon, and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant and just barely golden. Add in the mushrooms and sea salt, and cook for 12 to 14 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and golden and most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Add the scallions, stir, and cook for another 2-3 minutes or until tender. Season to taste (I add an additional ⅛ teaspoon sea salt).
- Prepare a clean work surface (e.g., cutting board), and have the following within reach: the dumpling wrappers, a small bowl filled with water, and a small pan lined with parchment paper.
- One at a time, place the wrappers on the work surface, fill with a ½ tablespoon of the filling (resist the urge to overfill), dip your fingers in the water, wet the edge of the wrapper, fold over, and press edges together to seal. Place on the pan, and repeat until filling is gone. To keep them from drying out as you're working, place a damp cloth over the filled dumplings.
- There are two options for cooking: pan-fry and then steam (potstickers) or steam (dumplings). To make potstickers: add about 1 tablespoon of refined coconut oil to a large skillet (enough to coat the bottom of the pan) over medium-high heat. Add the dumplings in a single layer, being careful not to crowd the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes or until the bottoms have developed a golden-brown crust. Then, pour ¼ cup water into the pan, immediately cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, and steam for 4 to 5 minutes. You'll know they're ready when the water has absorbed, and the wrappers become translucent. Use tongs to carefully remove the potstickers from the pan and place on a plate or platter. Repeat until all potstickers are cooked, and serve alongside the chili-garlic sauce. To make dumplings: add the dumplings to a steamer or steamer basket, and steam for 8 to 10 minutes or until the wrappers become translucent. Carefully remove the dumplings from the steamer and place on a plate or platter. Repeat until all dumplings are cooked, and serve alongside the chili-garlic sauce.
Chili Garlic Sauce
- Add rice vinegar, tamari, and chili-garlic sauce, to taste, to a small bowl, and whisk together. Adjust according to preferences, and serve alongside the dumplings.
**If you're pan-frying these to make potstickers, you want to use refined coconut oil because it has a high smoke point and doesn't have as much of a coconut flavor as virgin coconut oil. If you don't have refined coconut oil, you can use another oil with a high smoke point.