Pan fried Kimchi wrapped tofu and veggie jun
This dish is inspired by a variant of Kogi Jun, in which the meat patty is wrapped in Napa cabbage kimchi leaves before being coated in flour and egg wash and pan fried – Kimchi wrapped Kogi Jun. We made a vegan version of this variant on the classic Kogi Jun, and created Kimchi wrapped Tofu Jun, which is thus two degrees of separation from the classic Kogi Jun. For this recipe large Napa Kimchi leaves are wrapped around a stuffing of tofu, mushrooms, carrots and chopped kimchi, all of which is seasoned with sesame oil. The wraps are then dredged in flour and a wash of Just Egg and then pan fried fried on both sides. They are reminiscent of a tofu fried dumpling.
The ingredients are:
- 1/4 of a sweet onion
- 10 oz of firm tofu
- 1 medium carrot
- 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1/2 cup chopped Napa kimchi – inner leaves
- 1 Tbsp Sesame oil
- Large, long outer leaves of Napa kimchi
- Just Egg
Squeeze as much water as possible out of the tofu and crumble it into a mixing bowl. Finely chop the onion and carrot and add them to the bowl along with the chopped kimchi. Sautee the mushrooms to brown them and remove their water and then add them to the mixing bowl. Mix the filling ingredients and season them with salt and the sesame oil.
Place some filling on a Napa kimchi leaf and fold the leaf around the filling to make a wrapped parcel. Dredge the parcel in flour and then Just Egg (or regular egg). Pan fry the parcel one side and then flip the parcel to fry on the other side.
Traditional veggie Pasty
Pasties, the smaller one is filled with Japanese curry glazed vegetables.
Ultimate Japanese Curry
I have said it before, (and here) the Cornish Pasty counts as a form of dumpling. As part of my COVID-19 stay-at-home cooking regime I made a large vegan traditional a Cornish Pasty and two smaller Japanese Vegan Curry Pasties. For both of the Pasties I followed Spruce Eats recipe, “The Perfect Traditional Cornish Pasty” for the pastry dough using Earth Balance buttery spread rather than actual butter. To keep it vegan I brushed the Pasties with Just Egg. Following the EU Protected Geographic Indication Specification, for both fillings I used equal parts onion, potato and rutabaga (Swede), all finely chopped. The filling for the traditional pasty was seasoned with salt and lots of black pepper, and was wrapped uncooked with the pasty dough.
For the Japanese Curry filling, I briefly sauteed two cups of the onion, potato and rutabaga mix and then added 3/4 cup of water and 1 chunk of S&B Golden Curry (1/5 of the Curry package). My goal was to coat the vegetables in a thick glaze of curry sauce and to avoid having a lot of liquid curry.
I found the dough was pretty challenging to work with and I think that Earth Balance doesn’t bring the same dough making qualities as butter or lard. So the pasties looked a little mutant, but tasted great and when cooked, the pastry shell was flaky and layered. The traditional Pasty tasted just how I remember the vegetable Pasty from the famed Ivor Dewdney Pasty shop in Plymouth England. The Japanese Curry version was everything that I had hoped for, lots of mild curry flavor in flaky pastry pocket.
I tried the Kite Hill Mushroom ravioli a few weeks ago and thought they we excellent, so I just tried their spinach ravioli. To recap on Kite Hill, the company was founded by Tal Ronnen, Monte Casino and Dr. Pat Brown to create artisan vegan cheeses and has since branched out to make yogurts and stuffed cheeses. I am a fan of Tal Ronnen’s book “The Conscious Cook” and love the Impossible Burger which was co-founded by Pat Brown, so I started off somewhat biased towards their ravioli.
While I thought their mushroom and ricotta ravioli was really flavorful, the spinach variety were kind of bland. The almond milk ricotta was really good, but the spinach did not add any flavor, just some green color. As with the mushroom ones, the ravioli wrapper was sturdy enough to stand up to boiling and then pan-frying and a had satisfying mouth chew to it. One thing I have noticed about the Kite Hill ravioli is that the packaged portion size seems off, the package is a little too much for one entree sized serving but not quite enough for two satisfying entree servings. I prepared the ravioli with sautéed tomatoes, garlic and capers in white wine.
Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with sauteed tomatoes and capers
During the COVID-19 stay at home lock down I have become obsessed with Delicious Rendezvous, a Korean cooking show on the Viki streaming service. The conceit of the show is that a celebrity chef, Baek Jong-won, and a group of young Korean celebrities tour farming and fishing regions in Korea and develop new recipes to promote consumption and improve the perception of local specialties. A lot of the regional food specialties they feature have fallen out of favor with younger generations or have dwindling profitability due to over production or challenges from typhoons, climate change and COVID-19. The casting of the show is amazing and the food is incredible, which has inspired a lot of home cooking, all of which has been vegan.
The show has been filming since Dec 2019 and over the course of the episodes you can see how life in Korea has changed as COVID-19 spread. Over the course of the episodes crowd scenes got smaller, face masks appeared, hand sanitizing became frequent and road side temperature check stations appeared. In episode 25 they focused on radish, which is consumed in massive quantities in school lunches, but now that schools have been closed down the farmers have no where to sell this crop. This episode was particularly moving.
Tofu being braised
Sujebi Soup with hand torn noodles
Baked tofu with miso glaze
Tteokbokki (Spicy Stir-fried Rice Cakes)
Soondubu (Spicy tofu stew)
Stone pot bibimbap
Braised tofu and vegetable stew
Seitan cooked in the style of stir fried spicy pork
As a I guy who runs a blog dedicated to dumplings and also studies ceramics, I was captivated back in 2018 when photos of Stephanie Shih’s porcelain pot sticker dumplings went viral. I recently discovered her Instagram feed and her work over the past two years to create ceramic homages to Asian grocery staples like bottles of soy sauce, Sriracha and chili paste. Her use of glazes and under-glazes to create hand painted versions of labels and contents of the bottles is quite amazing.
One of my favorites: Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp
According to her artist statement she is trying to create the food items from her youth in the 80’s and she spends time researching the bottle labels used back then. As she writes “The result is a pantry from the ‘80s——filled with with fingerprinted surfaces and shakily painted labels——that looks at once familiar and hazy, like an old memory”.
Her work has been shown at the American Museum of Ceramic Art (Pomona, CA), Wieden+Kennedy (Portland, OR), and Hashimoto Contemporary (San Francisco, CA) and featured by NPR, Los Angeles Times, Vogue, The New York Times, and The New Yorker.
Kite Hill Mushroom Ravioli
Kite Hill was founded by Tal Ronnen, Monte Casino and Dr. Pat Brown to create artisan vegan cheeses and has since branched out to make yogurts and stuffed cheeses. I am a fan of Tal Ronnen’s book “The Conscious Cook” and love the Impossible Burger which was co-founded by Pat Brown, so I started off somewhat biased towards their ravioli. The ravioli are filled with portabella and shiitake mushrooms and almond milk ricotta. I really dislike almond milk, but Kite Hill’s almond milk ricotta was very good. The ravioli wrapper was sturdy enough to stand up to boiling and then pan-frying and had satisfying mouth chew to it. The ricotta and mushroom filling was creamy with an umami earthy flavor with a strong note from the shiitake mushrooms. I prepared the ravioli with sautéed tomatoes, garlic and capers in white wine, dressed with torn basil leaves and the combination was delicious.
Kite Hill mushroom and ricotta ravioli with with sautéed tomatoes, garlic and capers in white wine, dressed with torn basil leaves
COVID-19 has me home doing a lot of cooking, some of which you can see on the Dumpling Hunter Instagram, but not so many dumplings thus far. My first home cooked dumplings was a take on Woon.Heng’s recipe for Crispy Bottom Buns posted in Instagram. I changed the filling to tofu and sauteed bok choy and mushrooms and I flavored the filling with sesame oil and soy sauce. I pan-fried the buns on both sides, then threw some water in the pan and steamed them and then fried them some more to crisp them. The buns came out really well, but I made two mistakes – not squeezing out the water from the bok choy after I sauteed it and not pressing the tofu enough to get all the water out; you want to the filling to be as dry as possible. Also I found that the pleated side of the bun, which is thicker, cooks slower and the pleated dough of two of my buns came out under cooked.
For much of Feb I fought a cold and lived on order-in dumplings. Then just as I got better two weeks ago COVID-19 started being diagnosed across the U.S., so my hiatus from eating out and seeking new dumplings continues. I had a trip planned to Chicago for C2E2 and pierogi eating for last weekend but I cancelled it (Pierogi and dumplings from my last trip 1, 2, 3) . Now I am trying to minimize my subway usage and social contacts. Stay safe and follow CDC recommendations: wash your hands a lot, get all you prescriptions refilled, and stock up on some shelf-stable staple foods.
So below is a montage of the dumplings I order in or found in my freezer and cooked up while I battled the cold. All bowls and plates were thrown and glazed by yours truly.
Nasoya vegan dumplings
I am really glad that Nasoya has transitioned their vegetarian products to be fully vegan. The company has been around since 1978 when it began by making tofu in a barn in Leominster, Massachusetts. The company was bought out by Pulmuone Foods in 2016, but the brand carried on. I previously made giant dumplings from their newly vegan egg roll wrappers which came out quite good, so I was excited to try the tofu vegetarian dumplings.
Pan Fried Nasoya Tofu Vegetable Dumplings
The dumplings are fully organic and are filled with “super firm tofu”, crimini mushrooms, potato starch, yellow onion, and carrots “2% or less” green onion, Bok Choy, onion, toasted sesame oil, ginger, garlic, and chili pepper flakes. The dumplings were prepared as directed on the package, pan fried on both sides and then steamed with a little water. Given Nasoya’s Asian themed product line, the texture of the dumpling wrappers was surprisingly like peirogi, quite solid and chewy. The filling was also quite dense, probably due to the “super firm tofu” filling. Other than a slightly harsh note of ginger (amazing what less than 2% can do), the dumplings did not have much in the way of flavor. Luckily, I had made a bunch of other dishes for dinner, because these dumplings were really disappointing. Buy Nasoya’s wonton wrappers or egg roll wrappers and make your own vegan dumplings.
Nasoya Dumplings in their carton
Whole Foods Pierogi
While I have been enjoying the recent expansion of buns and dumplings at Whole Foods sushi counter, it seems the overall quality of fruits and vegetables has declined since Amazon took over. Sure the prices of avocado have come down but the greens now often look wilted and beat up and the produce shelves are often half empty. While my frequency of shopping at Whole Foods has declined since the sale I still end up there every now and then. I recently stopped in and bought the Potato and Spinach Pierogi they sell in the refrigerator section. To cook them I boiled them as instructed on the package and then pan fried them with onions which gave the wrappers a nice crisp. I thought they did do a good job with dough wrappers, they were quite thick and so stood up to the boiling and subsequent pan-frying and had an enjoyable chew. But, even with the onions the pierogis were quite bland, it tasted like the potato filling had not been seasoned and I couldn’t taste the spinach at all. For the second batch I made, I tried boosting the overall flavor by sauteing the boiled peirogi in garlic, butter and onions which punched up the flavor of the overall dish. These pierogi were far from great but the photos came out well, here they are served on a plate made by the Dumpling Hunter.