Rewind to 1991.  Taiwan.  I’m four years old (eek I dated myself, forgive me…) and everything smells like fish.  Which is an ok thing because I love fish, just not fish heads or fish eyes which our hosts (friends of my parents) keep trying to get me to eat.  My mom says it’s a delicacy, but still, I’m not going there.  Every day I’d spend chunks of time at the Taiwanese-American school our hosts ran and every lunch an old woman with a ton of wrinkles (or so I remember) served up plates of dumplings.  Pork filled, spicy, gooey-doughed dumplings.  I was in heaven.

Last night I recreated that moment.  Sans pork.  And you know what’s funny?  As soon as I threw the spring onions, soy sauce, carrots, mushrooms, and tofu together in a bowl, the same smell I smelled every day in Taiwan for two weeks came back to me.  It’s not like I haven’t eaten dumplings over the past 18 years since 1991, but there was something distinctly Taiwanesey about the combo.  Or four-year-oldesy.  Give or take a sniff or two.  And while I loved those dumplings then, I think I’ve found a new soul-mate.  In pot-sticker form.  You know I love a good fried food.

Oh, and for six years following our trip to Taiwan, I refused to eat fish.  My brother still hates fish to this day.  I think there was something a little too pervasive about the smell.  Good thing I’m a vegan now!

Chinese Pot-Stickers & Baby Bok Choy

For the wrappers:
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.25 cups boiling water

For the dumpling filling:
8 oz firm or extra-firm tofu
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
3 spring onions, diced (white and light green parts only)
8-10 small mushrooms, diced (I used rehydrated shitake mushrooms)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 dash sesame oil
vegetable oil to fry in

For the bok choy:
1 baby bok choy
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, grated
1 tbsp vegetable oil to cook with
3 tbsp water
sesame oil
salt to taste

To make the pot stickers

To make the wrappers:

In a medium-sized bowl pour the water into the flour.  Mix with a spoon until mostly combined, then dump the mixture out on a floured surface.  Knead the dough for five minutes until a soft, smooth dough forms.

Divide the dough in half and roll out 12″ logs.  Slice the logs into 1/2″ slices.  Smoosh each slice with the palm of your hand until a thin, round circle is made.

To make the filling:

In a small bowl, crumble to tofu into the carrots, onions, mushrooms, soy sauce, and sesame oil.  Mix with your hands until well combined.

To fill the dumplings:

Take one wrapper and fill with a scant teaspoon of the mixture.  Fold in half and pinch the sides closed.  Pinch five times across the top to make pleats which will hold the dumpling closed.  For a good picture tutorial, check out The Vegan Ronin’s here.

Set aside on a floured tray.

To cook:

Heat a large nonstick skillet until very hot.  Add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and coat all surfaces of the skillet.  Place 12 dumplings (or however many you can fit) in the skillet and cook for 2 minutes or until the bottoms of the dumplings are golden brown.

Add 1/2 a cup of water to the skillet (it will sizzle and pop and steam like none other) and cover with a lid.  Cook for 5-7 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

Serve with a spicy dipping sauce of your choice!

To make the bok choy (a la Steamy Kitchen)

Cut the very end of the bok choy off.  Peel the leaves off, but leave the “baby” found in the very inside of the vegetable intact.  Make sure to wash each leaf.

In a large unheated wok, place the ginger and garlic.  Add 1 tbsp vegetable oil.  Turn the heat to medium-high and allow the ginger and garlic to cook in the oil until the oil becomes very aromatic and the garlic is just turning light brown.

Add the bok choy and cook for 15 seconds, making sure that each leaf is covered in the oil-garlic-ginger mixture.

Add 3 tbsp water, cover the wok, and let cook for 1 minute.

Drizzle with sesame oil and salt to taste.