Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Vegan Gyoza and a Japanese-Themed Dinner

It all started with a trip across the border to Trader Joe's. We don't have any Trader Joe's stores in Canada, or any just across the border from Southern Ontario/Toronto area. The closest store is in Rochester, New York, so sometimes a road trip is in store and so is a fun grocery shopping trip!

I went to Trader Joe's for the first time last summer when on a little vacation to Put-in-Bay, Ohio with one of my best friends. We stopped at a location in Cleveland and I came home with bags full of vegan snacks that were entirely different from what I could find at stores at home. This visit was similar to that time as I exited the store with Vanilla Jo Jo's, Onion Ring chips, Roasted Coconut Chips, an assortment of various Clif bars, and all kinds of other goodies. Amongst those goodies was this bottle of Trader Ming's Gyoza Dipping sauce. With the inspiration of using this sauce for dinner, I decided to attempt to make vegan gyozas from scratch. A gyoza is an Asian dumpling filled with all sorts of sauteed veggies.

What started with an idea of making vegan gyoza resulted in tonight's dinner: a full-out Japanese buffet of gyozas, sushi, and soba noodles! It was a bit time consuming and resulted in a lot of dirty pots and pans...but it was incredibly delicious and well worth the work!

Vegan Gyoza!
Since I was unable to find wonton wrappers without egg in them (you might be able to find these at an Asian grocery store), I opted to make mine from scratch. I used this recipe from VegWeb and it turned out great. I also used this recipe for the filling. You will need a LOT of elbow grease when you're kneading the dough (unless you have a dough-kneading attachment for your stand mixer or a bread maker!), and you will also need a lot of elbow grease for rolling out the dough. The dough is very firm and difficult to roll out, but try your best. I was able to come out with about 12 three inch squares, along with some leftover dough. You should be able to get at least 16 squares, depending on how strong you are!

Vegan Wonton Wrappers

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water

1.  Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl. Slowly stir in the warm water. The dough will be very stiff.
2.  Knead the dough on a floured surface until smooth, about 15 minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover it with a towel. Let the dough stand for about 20 minutes.
3.  Roll out half of the dough as thin as you can. Cut into 3" squares using a pizza cutter or knife. Repeat for the other half of the dough. You can also use this recipe to make spring rolls, just cut the dough into bigger squares.

Vegan Gyoza

2 tbsp oil, divided
1/3 cup carrots, finely chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/3 cup celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped1-2" piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
red pepper flakes, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup green onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp tamari
wonton wrappers (store-bought or from recipe posted above)
2-6 tbsp water, for steaming

1.  To prepare the filling: Over medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of oil to a hot skillet. Once the oil is hot, drop in the carrots and garlic and cook for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the celery and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Next, toss in the sesame oil, mushrooms, cabbage, ginger, black pepper, and chili flakes and coat well with oil.
2.  Cook this mixture for another 2 minutes, then add in the green onions. Stir in 2 tbsp tamari. Once all of the veggies are soft, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
3.  Please a tsp of filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. Moisten the edges with a little bif ot water, fold over, and crimp the edges to seal.
4.  To cook: Add 1 tbsp of oil and heat over medium-high. Drop in your dumplings and cook for 2-3 minutes per side until lightly browned. When both sides are lightly browned, add in 2-3 tbsp of water and cover with a lid. Turn the heat down to medium and allow the water to completely evaporate.

*** Please note *** These are the instructions for the original recipe. I found that adding water to a hot pot with oil in it was a little bit too dangerous for me. I recommend steaming the gyozas by using a separate steaming pot over a pot of boiling water.

5.  Gyozas are done when they are entirely translucent. If there are still opaque parts,  add more water, cover and cook. Flip them over if they get too brown on one side. You may have to repeat this process. If you're using a steaming pot, flip them as necessary.

Sesame Soba Noodles with Green Onion
Sesame Soba Noodles with Green Onion

Soba noodles are a healthy buckwheat noodle used in Japanese cuisine. You should be able to find them at most grocery stores. Cook the noodles according to the directions on the package. Drain the noodles, then add them back to the pot along with some sesame oil and soy sauce. Heat through and serve. Top with chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

I actually ended up adding some of the Trader Joe's Gyoza sauce to the noodles and it was absolutely delicious! It added a nice kick of ginger and more sesame flavour. Yum!

Veggie Sushi!
Making veggie sushi is not as hard as it looks! All you'll need is sushi rice, veggies to put inside (cucumber and orange/yellow pepper), and nori (seaweed) papers to wrap everything up. You can also put some toasted sesame seeds inside.

Cook the sushi rice according to the directions on the package. Using 1 cup of uncooked sushi rice will make you more than enough rice to make sushi. Once the rice is cooked, put it into a bowl and add 2 1/2 tbsp of seasoned rice vinegar and 1/2 tbsp of sugar.  Let the rice cool down.

On your nori sheet, lay out a row of sushi rice, and then your cucumber and pepper slices. Add some toasted sesame seeds. Then, put a little bit of rice vinegar along the top edge (where you have put your rice and toppings down) in order to allow it to stick together when you roll it all up. You can use those fancy tatami mats to roll up the sushi, or you can just use plastic wrap. Roll up the sushi. Then, you can cut it into 8 bite-sized pieces.

There are tons of books and websites about making sushi. I have a great book called Vegetarian Sushi that outlines the basics of making sushi and includes tons of different recipes for many veggie rolls.

And there you have it - a dinner that can rival any that you would find at a Japanese restaurant, and one that definitely has no meat or fish in sight!

No comments:

Post a Comment