Wrap up Chinese New Year with steamed dumplings

Dumplings are a traditional choice for the holiday, which this year begins Sunday.
By J.M. HIRSCH Modified: February 5, 2013 at 4:14 pm •  Published: February 6, 2013

For this dumpling recipe, I decided to go vegetarian and used purchased seasoned and baked tofu in the filling. If you'd rather use meat, substitute an equal amount of diced or ground meat and skip the food processing step. You'll also need to steam for a bit longer (use an instant thermometer to check the progress and ensure you hit a safe cooking temperature).

For this recipe, I use a simple fold-and-pinch method of forming the dumplings. It requires no special equipment or skill. But if you make a lot of dumplings, consider getting a dumpling press sold for just a few dollars at Asian markets. These clamshell-style presses neatly fold and crimp the dumplings into attractive packets.



VEGETARIAN STEAMED DUMPLINGS WITH SWEET-AND-SOUR SAUCE

Seasoned baked tofu is sold with the other refrigerated Asian items, usually in the grocer's produce section.

Start to finish: 45 minutes

Makes 48 dumplings

dumplings

12 ounces seasoned baked tofu, cut into cubes

6 scallions, ends trimmed

2 cloves garlic

¼ cup fresh cilantro, leaves and stems

½ cup finely grated carrots

1 whole egg or 2 egg whites, beaten

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon hot sauce

12-ounce package 3-inch square wonton wrappers

sweet-and-sour sauce

½ cup rice vinegar (cider vinegar can be substituted)

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons apricot jam

2 tablespoons ketchup

2 teaspoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons water

• In a food processor, combine the tofu, scallions, garlic, cilantro, carrots, egg, hoisin, soy sauce, sesame oil and hot sauce. Pulse until the tofu is finely chopped, but not ground, about ten 1-second pulses.

• One at a time, place 1 teaspoon of the mixture in the center of each wonton wrapper. Dunk your fingers in water, then use them to wet the edges of the wrapper. Gather the edges of the wrapper over the filling, pinching them together to form a small bundle. Repeat with the remaining filling and wrappers.

• In a large saute pan, bring about 1 inch of water to a boil. Set a bamboo or other steamer basket over the water, then lightly coat it with cooking spray.

• Working in batches if necessary, arrange the dumplings in the steamer (they should not touch), then cover and steam for 10 minutes.

• Meanwhile, prepare the sweet-and-sour sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar, brown sugar, jam, ketchup, soy sauce and hot sauce. Bring to a simmer. In a small glass, mix the cornstarch and water, then add to the saucepan. Simmer for another 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

• Serve the dumplings with sweet-and-sour sauce on the side for dipping.

Nutrition information per dumpling: 50 calories; 10 calories from fat (20 percent of total calories); 1 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 5 mg cholesterol; 9 g carbohydrate; 0 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 2 g protein; 135 mg sodium.

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