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Zox Kitchen

Zox Kitchen: June 14, 2013

The Joyful Dumpling Experience

Dumplings go by different names depending on their country of origin. In Japan they call them Sumai or Gyoza; in the United States we call them wontons or pot stickers; Chinese dumplings are called Jiaozis; Latins call them empanadas; pierogies are Polish; Kreplachs are Jewish; ravioli us Italian. All of these dumplings are found here in the U.S. Or you can make your own. The dough that forms the dumpling is stuffed with an assortment of delights like pureed or diced vegetables, cheese, pork, chicken, ground tofu or glutinous rice. The rules are open ended. The stuffing is dependent on one’s culture and the creativity of the chef. Eating them is extraordinary.

The trick to making dumplings is to make a wrapping that is not too chewy but not too soft either; and to create a flavorful filling that is appealing and enticing while not too dense. Wrappers purchased at the grocery are really quite good.

Finding the best local dim sum house of dumplings is also an exciting venture. My sons and I discovered such a restaurant one spring Sunday morning in Manhattan a few years ago that served a wonderful variety of buns and dumplings on rolling carts. You paid a small amount for each dish left on your table. Truly an amazing experience where hundreds of dumpling maven fressers visited throughout four different floors of a non-descript building in Chinatown. Sunshine burst through several open windowpanes. We felt lucky to be there.

Here’s a wonderful dumpling recipe without your traditional animal protein that combines frying and steaming with tofu and quinoa. One egg should hold it all together. The aromatics enhanced the flavor.

Vegetarian Gyoza Dumplings

Makes 40 Gyoza dumplings


• 1 package firm tofu, frozen, thawed, washed, squeezed dry and diced

• ½ cup red quinoa

• ½ head of Savoy cabbage

• 4 scallions minced

• 1 egg whisked for 15 seconds

• 2 diced garlic cloves    

• 1 tablespoon ginger

• 2 tablespoons sesame oil

• 1 tablespoons soy sauce

• 1 tablespoon sake

• 1 tablespoon potato starch

• 1 teaspoon sea salt

• 1/4 teaspoon white pepper

• 2 dried Shiitake mushrooms

• 40 gloze wrappers (a.k.a. pot sticker wrappers)

• 3 tablespoons canola oil

• 2 tablespoons soy sauce

• 2 tablespoons rice vinegar

• Chili oil to taste

Procedure for Vegetarian Goyaz

Freeze the tofu overnight. Defrost, dice and thoroughly wash and squeeze out the water. Wash ½ cup of quinoa and cook it in 1 cup of water. Add it to the bowl with the tofu when cooked.

Steam the cabbage for 2 minutes. Drain it and run under cold water so it’s cool enough to handle. Shake out the excess water without squeezing. Mince the cabbage and add it to the bowl with the tofu and quinoa. Add the whipped egg, scallions, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, sake, potato starch, salt, white pepper to the bowl. Pulverize dried shiitake into a powder and add it to the bowl. Mix everything together with your hand, using a kneading action to bring the mixture together.

If your wrapper is too thick, roll it out for 15 seconds. Place 1 wrapper in the palm of your left hand if you are right handed. Then place a spoonful or less of filling into the center of the wrapper.

Dip the fingers of your right hand in a bowl of water, and wet the entire rim of the wrapper. This is what seals the mixture into place. Continue holding the dumpling in your left hand and fold the wrapper in half but don’t seal the edges yet. Pinch the left edge shut and hold it shut with your left thumb and forefinger. Fold a pleat with your right thumb and forefinger. Pinch the pleat shut with your left thumb and forefinger and continue closing all the wrappers.

Add 3 tablespoons of oil to a non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Fry without touching until the gyoza is just starting to turn tan on the bottom. With a lid at the ready, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan and immediately cover with a lid. Let the gyoza steam for 2 minutes. If the water runs out before the 2 minutes are up, crack open the lid and add a little bit more.

After steaming, remove the lid and let the remaining water burn off. Let the gyoza fry in the remaining oil until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy. Plate the crispy side up so they don’t get soggy. Sauce these beauties by combining equal parts soy sauce, rice vinegar and juice of ½ lime: add chili oil to taste.

Cooking Demonstration

Chef Alan Zox will be leading a food demonstration at the Westbury Public Library on Monday, June 17, at 7 p.m. For this event, the menu is pollo aceto e funghi (chicken thighs with mushrooms and balsamic vinegar), insalata de finocchio (shaved fennel salad) and carpaccio di pere (pear carpaccio). Out-of-district residents may register June 3. Class limit is 25. Admission is $7.

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