From Soil to City

How to Fold Wonton Dumplings

wontons 72-01

During the first week of our winter CSA, a friend suggested to our group of friends, that instead of going out, we make dumpling soup. The idea was promising for a cold Saturday night, but I had never wrapped dumplings before and to be honest, my experiences cooking Chinese food has led me to believe that dim sum is always better ‘out’ than ‘in.’

The flurry of group texts that followed included concerns like…Would we make our own dough? Is there such thing as pre-made dough, and would it be good? I had reservations.

But their optimism inspired me, and I decided we had to at least try. I started researching dumpling soup and soon learned that you don’t have to make your own dough- you can use wonton wrappers. What’s more, wonton wrappers can be found at a well-stocked grocery store in the section where refrigerated tofu lives. Although a trip to Chinatown would have been the absolute best way to procure wonton wrappers, I didn’t have time. I quickly found them at Whole Foods on my way home from work.

After sifting through dozens of wonton soup recipes, I found that most recipes for vegetarian dumplings include tofu, and that most broths are seasoned with ginger and garlic. Other than tofu, the fillings are pretty open to interpretation, usually including cabbage and carrots, and always soy sauce. My culinary optimism returned. We would tailor the wonton fillings to my Local Roots CSA share. Why not make it farm to table?

The week we made dumplings, we had golden turnips, parsley, and carrots. I also had a freezer full of vegetable scraps for stock. If you haven’t made vegetable stock before, it’s one of the easiest things you can do in the kitchen! Try out our recipe here.

The recipe that follows is pretty specific to the produce available in a New York CSA in January, so feel free to deviate. Substituting sweet potatoes for carrots is a great idea. Try red cabbage instead of yellow. You get the picture!

Ingredients:

Broth:
6 cups of vegetable or chicken broth
3 cups of freshly torn bok choy or spinach, used right before eating
cilantro to garnish

Filling:
1 package of wonton wrappers (or make your own, with this recipe)
1 Tbsp. peanut oil
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. ginger, minced
2 scallions, white and green parts chopped
1 tsp. red chili pepper flakes, optional
2 golden turnips, small diced or grated
3 carrots, grated or small diced
1/2 block firm tofu, small diced
4 cups of green cabbage or Napa cabbage, shredded or thinly sliced

  1. Make your vegetable broth, or skip this step by buying it.
  2. Make your filling: Heat peanut oil in a pan until it shimmers. Add garlic, ginger, scallions (reserving some for garnish), turnips and carrots and saute for 10 min. or until softened. Then add tofu, chili pepper flakes, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cabbage. Saute for another 5-10 minutes. Set aside and let cool to warm or room temp.
  3. Set up a wonton wrapping station of a bowl of water, cutting board or clean surface for wrapping wontons, and a plate or tray lined with parchment paper.
  4. Wrap wontons, using the illustration above.
  5. Meanwhile, heat the broth in a stock pot and cook 2 minutes.
  6. Drop filled won tons, 15 to 20 at a time, in 3 quarts of boiling water. After they rise to surface, simmer 4 minutes. Drain and place in individual soup bowls.
  7. Add chopped bok choy or spinach leaves into the hot soup broth a minute before serving.
  8. Ladle the broth and greens over won tons. Garnish with reserved sliced green onions and season with soy sauce and sesame oil.

By Aly Miller, who loves drawing vegetables