Shrimp Dumplings with Bamboo ShootsI couldn’t resist the urge to undertake the almost ridiculous task of making dumplings, a.k.a. “pot stickers.” I figured I could use pre-made won ton wrappers, to make it easier. I adapted the recipe for “Shrimp Dumplings with Bamboo Shoots” (with “Soy Sesame Dipping Sauce”), from the April 2009 issue of Cuisine at Home (recipes below), in order to use the “dumpling” ingredients, while using the “pot sticker” methods. In other words, I did not want to steam my dumplings; I wanted to fry. I wanted a fun meal, and I got it. The crunchy bottoms of my dumplings were a pleasure. Were they worth all the “trouble” to prepare? Well…

Shrimp Dumplings with Bamboo Shoots
Recipe adapted from April 2009, Cuisine at Home
Makes 37 dumplings

10 oz. shrimp, peeled, deveined, and chopped
1/3 cup chopped bamboo shoots
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 Tbsp. mirin or dry sherry
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground white pepper
37 won ton wrappers
2 Tbsp. sesame oil

Mince shrimp and bamboo shoots in a food processor; do not purée. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Stir in cornstarch, mirin, soy sauce, oil, salt, and pepper.

Portion filling into balls using a No. 100 scoop (2 tsp. filling). Place balls on a baking sheet; cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then, fill each won ton wrapper with a ball and fold into fans, triangles, inverted fans, or tortellinis -- whatever works for you. Firmly press ends together to seal.

Heat 1 Tbsp. of the sesame oil in a sauté pan over high heat. Place half the dumplings in the pan and reduce heat to medium. Pan-fry the dumplings for about 3 minutes. Carefully add 1/4 cup water, cover pan, and reduce heat to low. Steam dumplings for 6 minutes. Uncover pan, raise heat to medium-high, and cook until bottoms are crisp, about 3 minutes. Repeat pan-frying with remaining dumplings, 1 Tbsp. sesame oil, and another 1/4 cup water.

Remove dumplings from pan and arrange them on a platter. Serve alongside dipping sauce.

Soy Sesame Dipping Sauce
Cuisine at Home, April 2009
Makes 1/2 cup

1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice vinegar
2 Tbsp. water
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. thinly sliced scallions

Heat soy sauce, vinegar, water, sugar, and oil in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking to dissolve sugar. Transfer dipping sauce to a small bowl. Garnish sauce with scallions.

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In my dumpling filling, I used canned Roland bamboo shoots boiled in water. The recipe warns against pureeing the shrimp and bamboo shoots, but I did anyway, so I dealt with some oozing of the filling when I assembled the dumplings. Instead of using mirin, I used dry vermouth. I was also happy to use NaSoya won ton wraps, rather than actually making my own dough (!). The wraps, however, were a bit too small for the amount of oozing filling that I attempted to fold in, so I improvised with whatever folding method worked.

The initial steaming in the pan resulted in semi-transparent dumplings, which then acquired crunchy bottoms once I raised the heat and uncovered the pan. This was a great texture that my young child enjoyed. And the dipping sauce was good too. But will I ever make these again? There’s an amount of “work” here that’s intimidating. How about I find a good neighborhood dumpling maker, and order takeout?

Orange Vinaigrette Brown Rice SaladI also made the “Orange Vinaigrette Brown Rice Salad,” from Allrecipes.com, and was happy with the bright onion and orange flavors of this side dish. I used olive oil instead of a more bland vegetable oil.

My rice cooked in 45 minutes. I then left the assembled salad in the refrigerator for 7 hours. I sprinkled the salad with some coarse salt before serving.

RECIPES: challenge yourself to make some pot stickers and eat rice cold, for a change
PREP TIMES: dumpling filling needs to be cooled for 30 minutes, then the dumplings need to be painstakingly assembled, then they must steam/fry for at least 15 minutes; the rice salad needs an hour of prep/cook time, then chilling time
TASTES: crispy pot stickers are delicious to dip, and that’s all we could ever hope for; red onion, orange, and spinach are winners with the vinaigrette and rice

Let’s go in a different direction, next time. I want to cook “Stuffed Peppers with Turkey and Vegetables,” from Allrecipes.com, along with “Mediterranean Couscous,” from Drweil.com. A sigh of relief? Come back to my sight on Sunday, August 16, to see what happens.