Friday, June 3, 2011

Dim Sum Extravaganza

Dim sum is one of those dishes that could cause someone to think twice about being vegan. It almost never comes in a vegan form, so unless you figure out how to cook it on your own, it is probably something you won't have often (if ever - with the exception of Trader Joe's gyoza of course).

Of course I believe that pretty much any dish can be made satisfactorily vegan. I love food of all kinds and I think it would be impossible (or at least much much more difficult) for me to be vegan if I felt severely limited by my options. But the reality is, once you stock your kitchen with vegan cooking supplies and once you get used to cooking vegan, your options are pretty much limitless.

Hence, BBQ pork buns and gyoza.

On a scale of 1 to 10 in difficulty and time consumption (1 being microwaving a frozen burrito and 10 being making lasagna from scratch, including the pasta, sauce and "cheeze") I would say the gyoza ranked at about a 3 and the pork buns were more like a 5 or 6. Any time you made dough from scratch it lengthens the cooking process for rising time so just something to keep in mind if you decide to attempt this.

Gyoza/Shu Mei

These gyoza/shu mei dim sum were super easy. Mainly because you don't have to worry about chopping/dicing everything too precisely because you just put it in the food processor in the end anyway - so keep that in mind while prepping. Proficient knife skills not required!
  • 2 tsp oil, for sauteing 
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 cups boy choy, chopped
  • 1 cup edamame (frozen is totally fine here)
  • 1/4 cup green onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbs red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 package egg-free gyoza wrappers 
  • Water for steaming
Saute onion and garlic until beginning to brown and then toss in the rest of the veggies, spices and soy sauce. Continue to saute for about 6-8 minutes or until all ingredients are cooked evenly.

Remove ingredients from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and pulse about 10 times (you want to maintain the texture, not make vegetable soup. You should end up with small chunks and no large pieces remaining).

Make sure your gyoza wrappers are sufficiently defrosted (ours were frozen when we bought them). Take one wrapper and place a heaping teaspoon of filling into the center (as much as you can fit and still fold it over). Wet the edges with your fingers and a tiny bit of water and then choose one of two methods:
  • a.) Fold the wrapper over into a half moon crescent shape to make the Gyoza or Potsticker
  • b.) Raise the edges of the wrapper up into the center and pinch closed to form a pouch shape (Shu Mei).
Once you have all of your delicious little dumplings formed, bring about 1/2 of water to a boil in a fry pan. Place the dumplings in the water for about 4-6 minutes or until they turn translucent. I dry sauteed my gyoza in a separate pan before I steamed them to brown them up a little bit, but feel free to skip that step.

I filled them a little full :)

BBQ "Pork" Buns

Ever since I discovered the wonders of jackfruit (which was like two weeks ago realistically, but still - it's been an imaginative two weeks) I have been scheming up ideas for how to use it. My sub-conscious must have been scheming too because I actually had a dream about making dim sum the other night and these BBQ pork buns were on my dream menu. Whenever I have a dream about making food (which is actually pretty often oddly enough) I always make it and it always turns out to be so good. I get tons of delicious and creative inspiration from dreams.

For the Dough (adapted from this recipe)
  • 3 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 cup warm non-dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 and about 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
In a medium sized mixing bowl, dissolve 2 Tbs of the sugar in your warm liquids and add the yeast. Set aside and allow the yeast to active for about 10 minutes. Your liquid should have a nice frothy foam layer - that's how you know the yeast is still active.

Add the final tablespoon of sugar into your liquid mixture. Slowly begin adding in the flour, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go. Add in the full two cups and then use your discretion with the final 1/4 cup if the dough is still too wet or sticky.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead it until smooth - about 5 minutes.

Rinse out your mixing bowl and place the dough back in it. Cover with saran wrap and let rise for about 45 minutes (it should have basically doubled in size).

For the Filling

While the dough is rising, start on your filling.
  • 1 can jackfruit in BRINE
  • 1 tsp cayenne papper
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp chipotle seasoning
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Braggs or soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
  • 3 Tbsp BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup water/broth
 Rinse and drain your jackfruit. Remove the inner core pieces so that you are left with the outer, more stringy bits.

In a small bowl, combine the cayenne, garlic salt and chipotle seasoning. Coat the jackfruit pieces completely in the rub.

In a medium sauce pan, lightly toast the jackfruit pieces for about 5 minutes over medium/low heat. Then add the oil, onion and garlic and saute the whole mixture for an additional 4-5 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and simmer the mixture for 25 minutes. After 25 minutes, use a fork to break apart the jackfruit pieces until it looks all stringy.

Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.

After the dough is done rising, remove it from the pan and cut into 12 even sized pieces.

Flatten a piece of dough into a circle that is about 5-6 inches in diameter and place a heaping Tbs of BBQ filling in the center. Bring the edge of the dough together in the middle and pinch firmly closed. Repeat with the remaining 11 pieces of dough.

Cover the buns with some more saran wrap and allow to rise for an additional 10 or so minutes. Then steam each bun for 3-4 minutes in your steaming device of choice and enjoy!

Viola! Delicious vegan dim sum! Now you don't have an excuse to not be vegan! :)

Live long and prosper. And listen to your food dreams.

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