As I was coming up with a title for this post, half of me wanted to omit the “v” word because as a meat eater, I often skip passed the flimsy vegetarian approximations of dishes that are supposed to contain meat. Why? I guess my experience has been that most veggie approximations are just that… less tasty approximations for people that have made the switch.
So why on earth would I take the porky goodness out of these dumplings? Well, those of you that have been reading along may have noticed that I have a new found obsession with Quinoa. I’ve used it in place of cous cous and suggested it has potential as a substitute for tobiko. Red quinoa even looks a bit like cooked ground meat… which got me thinking… could I possibly sub in quinoa for pork and trick other meat eaters into thinking they were eating pig? A worthy challenge indeed.
I started with my recipe for making regular gyoza, subbed in quinoa for the pork, added shitake mushrooms for a boost in flavor and an egg to help bind everything together. If you’re horribly opposed to a meatless dumpling you could always turn this back into a less animal friendly recipe, but I really do urge you to give this a try. Aside from the fact that Quinoa is cheaper, healthier, and greener, I actually like these better than their meat containing counterparts.
1 C cooked quinoa
1 C boiled cabbage squeezed and roughly minced
2 fresh shitake mushrooms minced
1 Tbs minced ginger
2 cloves garlic minced
2 green onions minced
2 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp mirin (sweet japanese cooking wine)
1/4 tsp finely ground white pepper
salt to taste (usually add about 1/4 tsp but it’s up to you)
1 pack gyoza wrappers (small round wonton wrappers)
2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs rice vinegar
1/4 tsp chili oil (optional)
make the dumplings
Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. Boil some cabbage for about 10 minutes, cool, then squeeze any excess liquid out before mincing.
Combine the first 10 ingredients in a bowl and mix, taste and add some more salt if you like. Add in the egg and mix well to combine.
This next part seems to intimidate a lot of people but after a bit of practice it goes really fast. Basically you want to take 1 wrapper in the palm of your hand left hand (if right handed) and spoon a small amount of filling in the center (it’s easier to pleat if you have less, you can always add more in the subsequent ones).
Dip a finger from your other hand in a bowl of water and get the outer 1/4″ of the wrapper wet all around.
Fold the wrapper in half like a taco then starting from the left edge, start sealing the wrapper placing a pleat about once every 1/4″. Don’t worry if your first few look bad, they’ll get better and as long as it’s well sealed, it shouldn’t effect the end result much.
fry the dumplings
Get a non-stick pan (that has a lid) hot over medium heat, then add about a teaspoon of oil. Place the dumplings in the pan with the flat-side down. Cook for about 1 minute or until the bottoms are just turning light brown.
With the lid ready to cover the pan, add about 2 Tbs of water then quickly put the lid down (be very careful as the pan will start spitting hot oil as soon as you put the water in). Turn down the heat and steam the dumplings for about 4 minutes.
Remove the lid, turn up the heat to medium high and let any remaining water evaporate so the dumplings get nice and crisp on the bottom (about another minute). Plate and serve immediately with dipping sauce.