Dumpling-making, as with any fussy kitchen task, takes patience and probably shouldn’t be attempted during fraught moments. If you are reasonably dexterous, however, an army of plump beauties will be just reward for time spent pleating wrappers together.     Recipe from The Way to Eat Now: Modern Vegetarian Food © Alice Hart, 2016, 2017. Photographs copyright © Emma Lee, 2016, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com

Pot Stickers with Black Vinegar and Chile [Vegan]

Serves

30 pot stickers

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Ingredients

For the Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) light soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons black vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sugar
  • 1 green chile, finely chopped

For the Pot Stickers:

  • 3 tablespoons sunflower oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 1/2-inch (4 cm) piece fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cups (150 g) finely chopped shiitake mushrooms
  • 3 scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
  • 2 carrots, finely grated
  • 7 ounces (200 g) firm smoked tofu, drained and crumbled
  • 10 cups (225 g) blanched, dried and chopped spinach
  • Small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
  • Sea salt
  • 30 round dumpling wrappers
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Preparation

  1. Start with the dipping sauce. Combine all the ingredients and set aside.
  2. Put 1 tablespoon of the sunflower oil, the garlic and ginger in a wok and set over medium heat.  Cook, stirring, for a minute, until the mixture sizzles, then add the mushrooms, scallions and carrots. Stir-fry for 5 minutes or so, until the mixture softens and any liquid evaporates. Remove from the heat and stir in the tofu, spinach and cilantro, followed by the soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper and a generous pinch of salt. Allow to cool.
  3. Place 1 firmly packed heaping teaspoon of this filling in the middle of a wrapper and lightly brush the border with water. (I use a dampened finger rather than fussing with a pastry brush.) Fold into a half-moon shape, making about 5 pleats to seal. This is all a matter of practice.
  4. If you find pleating too fussy, simply press the edges together to make a simple half-moon. If you’re feeling brave, to make each pleat, fold the wrapper slightly between your thumb and forefinger, pushing your other thumb in to flatten and secure the pleat. I find the best way is to start in the middle with a single pleat, then work down each side in turn with 2 to 3 pleats. Press the edges firmly to seal, but take care not to crush the pastry or you’ll ruin the pleating effect. You should have a curved dumpling.
  5. Line a tray with nonstick parchment paper. Add the dumpling, upright, so the seam is on top. Cover with a kitchen towel while you make the rest.
  6. Pour 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil into a large, nonstick frying pan and set over medium heat. Add half the dumplings, base-down. Fry undisturbed for about 2 minutes, until golden underneath. Pour ¾ cup (200 ml) water into the pan, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat slightly. Cover with a lid or a large tray and simmer for 7 to 8 minutes, until no liquid remains. Listen for a change in sound: When the liquid has gone, the pan will hiss. Serve immediately with half the dipping sauce. Repeat to cook the remaining dumplings
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Notes

You can also use a soy-based salad dressing, minus the peanut oil, as a dipping sauce here, if you prefer.

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