homebody /home-bod-y/ (noun)
a person who likes to stay at home, especially one who is perceived as unadventurous.
All my life I’ve been a homebody. My childhood was spent sitting in the living room with my nose in a book, unless I was watching Gilligan’s Island or The Flying Nun.
Outdoor activities? Nope. Travel? Nope.
I am the master of finding a reason not to do something fun and adventurous. One might say my life is dull, fearful, and unimaginative. I prefer to call it stable, steady, and secure. (And don’t you go to predictable and monotonous. Just don’t go there.) I’m the antithesis of your Disney princess–I don’t want more than This Provincial Life, nor do I want to be Part of your World.
So it is with wonder (as in, I wonder where she came from?) and bemusement that I’ve watched our youngest daughter take every opportunity to travel, adventure outdoors, backpack, SCUBA dive, and did I say travel? The girl has more stamps in her passport than the rest of us combined.
This time my vegetarian happy wanderer returned from a trip to Cambodia. In a foolish and desperate attempt to keep her in our zip code for more than 20 minutes, I made Kimchi Dumplings.
I made up the recipe for this filling. The dough is Andrea Nguyen’s ‘Extra Chewy wrapper” recipe from her book, Asian Dumplings.
Vegetarian Kimchi Dumplings
½ block firm tofu
a big handful of bean sprouts
2 green onions, trimmed and sliced
half a small bunch of garlic chives (Jiu Cai), rinsed and chopped
5 dried shitake mushrooms, rehydrated in boiling water
1 bundle of dried bean threads
¼ cup kimchi, drained and chopped
1 tsp oyster sauce (technically not vegetarian. sigh.)
2 tsp soy sauce
¼ tsp white pepper
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
Rinse and drain tofu, pressing down to express excess water, then cut into cubes, put it on a dish towel, and press with another dish towel so that it is fairly dry.
Boil the bean sprouts for 5 minutes, then cut into half inch lengths.
Mix the green onions and garlic chives, sprinkle liberally with salt and mix. The chives will start to weep liquid. Dump it onto a clean dish towel, add the bean sprouts, wrap it and twist and squeeze the liquid out so that the vegetables are fairly dry. In this instance, I used golden chives because the market did not have the usually abundant green garlic chives. If you use the green chives, no need for the green onions.
Trim the tough stems from the shitake mushrooms and discard. Finely dice (I use the food processor for this task).
Place the dried bean threads in a bowl of hot water until softened, just a few minutes. Take 1/3 of the bean threads, reserve the remaining 2/3 for another use. Using a pair of scissors, snip the bean threads into half inch lengths.
All of your above ingredients should be relatively dry at this point. If your ingredients are wet then the filling will cause the dough to fall apart when you are wrapping. Mix the tofu, bean sprouts/chives, mushrooms, bean threads, and kimchi together. Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, pepper, ginger, and sesame oil and mix well.
I believe it is now time for a commercial break. I have a confession to make: I bought a new toy.
my new kitchen scale
This was inspired by a book I recently picked up: Ratio by Michael Ruhlman. In it he reveals the universal magic ratios for baking and cooking. A good kitchen scale is mandatory for using these ratios. And so I ask you–Did I Have a Choice?
I love this new toy. NO MORE MEASURING CUPS! Zero the scale. Add the empty bowl. Push “tare”. Add your flour. Push “tare”. Add your rice flour. This worked so beautifully, and the dough turned out to have the correct consistency without me fussing and adding more flour or liquid.
Back to the dumpling wrappers:
7.5 ounces (1 ½ cups) unbleached all purpose flour
2 7/8 ounces (1/2 cup) Mochiko Blue Star brand glutinous (sweet) rice flour
½ tsp salt
¾ cup just boiled water
Stir the flours and salt together. Stir in the hot water to form a pliable dough that is yet firm enough to hold its shape well. Add additional flour if the dough is too wet or soft.
Cover with plastic wrap, and let the dough rest for at least 5 minutes and up to a couple of hours at room temperature. Divide dough in half, keeping unused portion covered to prevent drying. Roll half the dough into a log, and cut log into 16 pieces. With your wooden rolling pin, roll out the dough into a disc, and wrap into a crescent pot sticker shape.
Pan fry as usual (see Feb 17, 2014 “Auntie’s Special Dispensation” or Oct 7, 2014 “Korean Mandu” post for exhaustive if not wearisome description of this all important cooking method).
Make dipping sauce: of course you have done this in advance. keeps in the fridge for weeks.
1 part sugar
1 part rice vinegar
1 part soy sauce
Simmer together until sugar is dissolved, let cool to room temperature. Pour a little into individual dipping bowls and sprinkle with Korean toasted sesame seeds (which are a nice toasty golden brown, and have a more robust appearance than the white sesame seeds found in your grocery store).
Intended vegetarian daughter target audience: “Mama, these are good. They are my favorite vegetarian dumplings so far.”
DH: at first bite: “Uh . . . Is there kimchee in here? They have no taste.”
WHAT DO YOU EXPECT, THEY’RE VEGETARIAN.
Second bite: “Oh, much better dipped in the sauce”.
Carnivorous daughter: “Hey mom, good job! These taste as good as the [purchased, mass produced] frozen ones!”
Could I have asked for a more glowing review?
I guess I’ll stay HOME and make some more.