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Chef Shirley Chung proves you don’t need meat in dumplings

Vegan shiitake jiaozi
Line up uncooked dumplings as you assemble them before dropping them in boiling water.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Chef Shirley Chung of Ms. Chi cafe in Culver City is known for her handmade dumplings, especially these vegan ones. Stuffed with a well-seasoned mix of sauteed shiitake mushrooms and kale, it’s as flavorful as any meaty filling. The addition of turmeric in the wrapper dough complements those flavors and also helps the dumplings resemble gold nuggets, making them a symbol of good fortune for Chinese New Year.

Be sure to seal the edges tightly when assembling these dumplings. Because there is no meat binder, a burst dumpling in boiling water will fill the pot with bits of vegetables and make the water murky.

It’s best to make the filling ahead of time and chill it because it’ll hold together more easily when forming the dumplings. You can substitute store-bought, 3-inch-round flour wrappers for the homemade ones.

Vegan Shiitake Jiaozi With Black Vinegar Dipping Sauce

3 hours. Makes about 50.

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Set up an assembly line of filling and wrappers for quick stuffing and pinching.
Set up an assembly line of filling and wrappers for quick stuffing and pinching.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Ingredients

Mushroom Kale Filling

  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 ¾ cups shelled edamame, thawed if frozen
  • ½ cup canola or vegetable oil
  • ½ medium brown onion, finely diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 ¾ pounds kale, stems discarded, leaves shredded
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 piece (1 inch) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vegan or vegetarian oyster sauce
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Golden Wrappers

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, plus more
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Black Vinegar Dipping Sauce (see recipe below), for serving

Instructions

  1. To make the filling: Put the mushrooms in a small bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Put a small saucer over the mushrooms to keep them submerged and soak until tender all the way through, at least 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, pulse the edamame in a food processor, scraping the bowl occasionally, until a smooth paste. Transfer to a large bowl.
  3. Heat ¼ cup canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the kale by handfuls, stirring each addition until wilted before adding the next. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until tender but not mushy, about 5 minutes. If the pan starts to scorch, add a splash of water. Remove from the heat, stir in the pepper and season to taste with salt. Transfer to the bowl with the edamame, then rinse out the skillet and wipe dry.
  4. Drain the shiitakes, then squeeze dry gently on paper towels and finely chop to resemble the texture of ground meat. Heat the remaining ¼ cup canola oil in the same skillet over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the mushrooms and spread in a single layer. Cook, without stirring, until the bottoms sizzle to a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir well and continue cooking until evenly browned, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to the bowl with the kale, along with the ginger, oyster sauce and soy sauce.
  5. Mix all the filling ingredients together until well blended. Drizzle with the sesame oil and mix again. Taste and adjust the seasonings as needed. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. To make the wrappers: Combine the flour, turmeric, salt and ⅔ cup room temperature water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed, scraping the bowl and paddle occasionally, until the dough comes together in a smooth clump. Alternatively, stir everything together with your hands or a wooden spoon until it forms a smooth ball. If needed, add more water 1 teaspoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Take a chunk of dough and roll into a 1-inch-thick rope. Use a sharp knife to cut the rope into ¾-inch pieces, about the size of bottle caps. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll a piece on a lightly floured surface into a thin 3- to 4-inch round. Alternatively, flatten the dough into a disk, then use a lightly floured rolling pin to roll the dough into a very thin sheet on a floured surface. Use a 3- or 4-inch round cookie cutter to cut out rounds as close together as possible. Put 1 heaping tablespoon filling in the center of a wrapper. Bring the sides together to form a half-moon shape and pinch the edges tightly to seal. Place on a parchment-paper-lined plate or baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling to make more jiaozi.
  8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the jiaozi, in batches if needed to prevent crowding the pot, and boil until they float, 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust the heat during cooking to maintain a steady but not rapid boil. Use a spider or slotted spoon to transfer the dumplings to a serving platter and serve with the dipping sauce.
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Black Vinegar Dipping Sauce

5 minutes. Makes about ⅔ cup.

0108 cooking
Serve the sauce on the side for dipping or spoon it over a plate of dumplings.
(Mariah Tauger/Los Angeles Times)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup Chinkiang black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon chile oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced

Instructions

  1. Combine the vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, chile oil and garlic in a medium bowl. Stir until well mixed.

Make ahead: The filling can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The assembled uncooked dumplings can be frozen for up to 2 weeks before boiling. The sauce can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Adapted from Shirley Chung.


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