tofu dumplings

Tofu Dumplings

There are some boxes left, scattered around the apartment, waiting for a few final items to top them up before sealing. My dishes are packed, the fridge is almost empty. I have eaten my way through jars of pickles, mustard, and ketchup, because I am too lazy to pack them into a box. Meals have consisted of pizza mostly, and wine. The last meal to be had in this apartment was dumplings. A meal to remember. I made a few extras, stored them in the freezer. I will pull them out next week, when I have eaten all the pizza my body can handle. By then, I will be a little sad to have left a place once called home, but excited to start a new journey. A new home.

I'd like to tell you about a time, my first real experience with dumplings. Mother's Dumplings in Toronto's Chinatown district, a special place. It was a cool winter's afternoon, famished from a day of walking, drooling over merchandise gently laid out in the store front's on Queen St. Rummaging through the racks of clothing, looking for treasure, poking my head down alley ways in Kensington market. Excited by new things, forgetful of basic physical needs such as eating, I found myself woozy and seeing stars. A recommendation from my sister-in-law, a few blocks away, we sat down at a large round table, eager to fill our bellies and warm our hearts.

Passing around the hot and sour soup, steamed buns, pan cakes, and dumplings, I am surrounded by family, it is a nice treat. I can't help but fidget with the chopsticks while trying to gracefully pick up a dumpling, my patience wears thin and I grab it with my fingers. I dip it into a bowl of extremely delicious sauce, sweat and savory. Covering it from head to toe, people don't mind that I've left a trail of sauce from the bowl to  my dish, I am in good company. That day, I fell in love with dumplings. Ever since, I have been imagining, well dreaming really, about dumplings. The soft chewy exterior, stuffed with tofu, asparagus, and mushrooms. A perfect vessel to soak up the dippings sauce, which also needs to be discussed. Rice wine vinegar, lime juice, Tamari, honey, and Sriracha. I'm not sure there could be a better combination of flavors. Immediately after I dipped my first dumpling, I started to wonder about other foods worthy of its dipping. The filling is delicious on its own, and I enjoy pouring on a bit of sauce and eating it as is, sans wrapper. 

makes 60 dumplings

16 oz firm tofu
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 large shallot, diced
2 garlic cloves, finely diced
14 small asparagus spears, thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
60 round wonton wrappers

1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 tsp Sriracha Hot Sauce

Remove the tofu from its package and drain off any excess water. Wrap the tofu in 4 or 5 paper towel sheets and place under a cutting board or something similarly flat. Place a heavy object, like a cast iron frying pan, on top of the cutting board. The weight will help press the tofu and drain the excess water. Let the tofu press for 30 minutes and then discard the water.

Heat the sesame oil in a frying pan on low. Remove the tofu from the paper towel and crumble with your hands. Place into a frying pan with the shallots, garlic, asparagus, and carrots. Fry for 5 minutes, or until the carrots have softened. Drain any excess water. Add the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, honey, salt and combine. Remove from heat and set to the side.

Remove the wonton wrappers from their package. Place a wrappers in your hand and then place 1 tbsp of filling inside. Here is a great tutorial demonstrating different dumpling folding techniques. Make sure to moisten the edges with water before folding, this will ensure that the filling does not spill out during steaming.

Place the dumplings onto a cutting board or tray and cover with a cloth to prevent them from drying out while you are making the rest. At this point you can place any extra dumplings into a ziplock bag and freeze them for up to 6 months.

You can use a bamboo steamer to steam the dumplings, or make your own steamer by using a small colander elevated inside a lidded pot or pan, with an inch of water in the bottom. Bring the water to a simmer and then cover.

Place a few dumplings into the steamer at one time, with enough room so that they do not touch. Steam for 6 - 8 minutes. Remove from the steamer and serve immediately.

To make the dipping sauce, combine the tamari sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, honey, and Sriracha.