I wrote this recipe a while ago for my local indie paper, but I make it every few months, so I have definitely edited how I make it. This post will include the updated and current recipe! While the recipe will follow shortly, I do need to bring up some really important things first.
There has been a considerable rise in COVID-fuelled violence towards the Asian community throughout the pandemic, and these attacks have targeted especially vulnerable members, such as elders. While many attacks have taken place in the United States, anti-Asian racism and hate crimes actively occur right herein Canada as well. I have witnessed things in my owndowntown Kitchener neighbourhood that are completely unacceptable, and need to be addressed.
There exists a rhetoric pertaining to the coronavirus which is rooted in the xenophobic sentiment that seeks to blame Asian communities for the spread of the coronavirus. This rhetoric has resulted in a notable increase of outward racism done unto the Asian community. Between March and September of 2020 alone there were more than 2,500 anti-Asian American hate incidents in the United States. Another study found that Anti-Asian hate crimes rose 164% withincertainmajor U.S. cities, and that was solely within the first quarter of 2021. Considering most hate crimes are not even reported, these numbers are likely underestimated. It is also important to note that this outward racism did not begin withCOVIDand it will not end with it.
Lunar New Years begins on February 12th this year- a celebration enjoyed by the Asian diaspora, that usually falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. You may have heard the term "Chinese New Year" previously, but that phrasing has since been adjusted to better include the diverse communities who celebrate this holiday. It is not just a Chinese holiday, but one also celebrated by Korean, Vietnamese, Tibetan, Ryukyuan, Mongolian, and many other communities.
I use this time of year to learn about different Asian cultures, cuisines, traditions, and listen to the direct words, stories and experiences of people within Asian communities. Reading, seeking out, and listening. Storytelling within culture is extremelyimportant andcreating space for those stories to be heard and told is equally as necessary. There is so much to learn, and I encourage you to use this Lunar New Year to do the same; to learn and listen. I encourage you to use this time to actively be mindful of outward hatred going on within your community, and to use your voice to stand up for others. Speak up and use your voice, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
It's important to use more inclusive terminology, because the exact goal of inclusive terminology is to better and more accurately represent what the term *actually* means. It's like a first impression; we can assume so much within the first moments of meeting someone. Words are the same. When we hear "Chinese" we just immediately accept and believe that it is a Chinese holiday, when in reality many other communities celebrate it too. Thus, terminology like "Lunar" ensures that there aren't any boundaries around understanding the term properly. Excluding groups of people from things that they are a part of really sucks, and we need to be cognoscente and to not over-generalize or over-simplify the anyone's identity.
I personally find the juxtaposition and contrast between the atrocity of these hateful acts, and the pure and genuine celebration of LNY, to be very upsetting. However, it's also a reminder that community and love always wins; despite continued trauma, the impacted communities move forward in joy, strength and togetherness.
This recipe makes about 50 dumplings. I usually buy a package of 50 round dumpling wrappers. At the end of making this, I usually end up having *slightly* too little/much filling for the 50, but it depends on how plump you make yours!
For anyone in Kitchener-Waterloo area: New City Supermarket on King St near the Kitchener Market District is my local go-to.
• Try to chop all ingredients as finely as you can – this allows for more filling per dumpling and an overall better bite. There is a a lot of chopping involved, but it is so worth it.
• You can steam these, or pan-fry them. You can also make these ahead of time and freeze them for future use.
• I like to make a lot at once, but if you only want to make a few, simply halve this recipe.
• When pan frying, try dipping the bottom of your dumpling into a bit of warm water, then into sesame seeds. Place them directly into a hot, oiled pan, for a yummy crispy bottom!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
Wonton wrappers (50)
2 cups Savoy or Napa cabbage, finely chopped
2 cups bok choy or yu choy, finely chopped
2 cups mushrooms, sliced, then finely chopped later
1/3 cup of finely chopped green onion or leek
1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup bamboo shoots, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 cup firm tofu, patted-dry then broken up finely with hands
1 large egg, beaten (optional, but helps it stick together)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 TSP lemongrass, minced (fresh, frozen, tube, etc are all fine)
1.5 TSP fresh ginger, grated
2-3 TBSP green onion, finely chopped
1 cup of well-seasoned, cooked white rice (I used Jasmine, seasoned with salt and rice vinegar)
1 TSP of Togarashi seasoning
1 TSP garlic chili sauce
1 TBSP of tamari or soy
2 TSP black vinegar
3 TBSP of tamari or soy
1 TSP garlic chili sauce
2 TBSP rice vinegar or black vinegar
2 TBSP warm water
1 TSP maple syrup, honey or brown sugar
Green onion, ginger and sesame for garnish
• Begin by placing finely chopped cabbage and bok choy into a bowl. Salt heavily (a good few tablespoons) and begin to massage with your hands. Squeeze contents well, as to break up any firm pieces. The goal of this step is to remove as much liquid from the cabbage and bok choy as possible so that the liquid does not release inside the dumpling during cooking. Add more salt if needed.
• Once the liquid begins to release, place contents in a fine-mesh colander and squeeze all remaining liquid out.
• Meanwhile, place sliced mushrooms into a hot pan, no oil. Cook on medium heat until well browned, 8-10 mins. Remove mushrooms from pan. Chop them finely.
• Once your cabbage and bok choy combo are drained, and your mushrooms are chopped, combine both into a large bowl. Add the garlic, lemongrass and ginger. Add carrot, tofu, bamboo, green onion, cooked rice, togarashi, black vinegar and tamari. Add egg. Mix all ingredients together until well-combined.
• Place a wonton wrapper in the palm of your hand, and put a dollop (about 2 tsp) of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Dampen the edge of a wrapper with water. Fold wrapper into a half-moon shape by pinching the top and bottom together, then pleat sides to close. These don’t need to be perfect; as long as they stay closed, you’re in safe water. If you need help in this area – @hellolisalin is a fantastic person to follow! I resort to watching her videos every time I make them.
• You can use a traditional wooden dumpling steamer, or alternatively place cabbage leaves in the bottom of a standard metal steaming basket. Steam dumplings for 8-10 minutes, or until the dumpling wrapper is transparent and soft. If pan frying, add oil to your pan, place dumplings and fry until golden brown on the bottom. Then finish them off by adding about 1/2 cup of water and putting the lid back on. Steam for a minute or two, until the tops of your dumplings are transparent.
• Serve hot alongside dipping sauce!
• Mix all ingredients together and serve!