Steamed Dumplings are an absolute must serve “lucky” dish for the Chinese New Year, but unfortunately they were also a dish I must not have… and I know I wasn’t the only unlucky one. Different restaurants have varied recipes for them, but nearly all make them with allergens. So I decided to make my own recipe that played on the basics but omitted the soy sauce, pig lard, pork, shellfish, mushrooms, etc. Plus, by using my optional substitutions, just about everyone can enjoy these delightfully delicious dumplings!
Shell Ingredients: (note that ~ means approximately)
- ~ 3½ cups sweet rice flour + a good bit more for rolling (a.k.a. glutinous rice flour… that is 100% gluten free!)
- ~ ⅔ cup boiling water
- ~ ⅓ cold water
- ~ ¾ pound ground chicken (or turkey… or minced water chestnuts/mushrooms/tofu for vegan)
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil (or another flavored oil of your choice)
- 2 tablespoons Coconut Aminos (a.k.a. soy sauce that is 100% soy free… or soyu if you like)
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger root (or garlic)
- ¼ cup minced leeks (or spring onions, bamboo shoots, shredded cabbage, etc.)
Filling Seasoning: (I used these, but add whatever you like adapting it to your tastes.)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander (try adding 1 tsp. ground ginger if not using minced)
- 3 teaspoons of Eden Shake + more for garnish (a.k.a. black & white sesame seeds plus pickled redshiso leaf… Anyone with sesame allergies can use hemp seeds which are the perfect high protein substitute.)
↑ This is a picture from my grandmother’s old recipe book that called for pig lard, soy, and the other things I spoke of earlier. I’m sure it was a tasty recipe, but I changed every ingredient but the rice flour… which I increased the portion of because the dough was too sticky to roll as it was. Note that even more flour than this will be needed as you roll.
First mince the ginger and leeks. Then mix all of the filling ingredients well.
The ground meat will absorb all of the liquids, but you can tell when it is well mixed when the minced ingredients seem well dispersed. Let this marinate in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fill the dough.
Place your measured rice flour into a larger mixing bowl.
Boil about a cup of water then use just a ⅔ cup of it. This is the easiest way to ensure the right amount. Mix it into the flour well, making a gooey paste. Then add the other portion of water, and mix it well. Let this sit about 15 minutes while you get everything else ready for your dumpling preparation… rolling pin, pastry mat, steamer, dumpling mold if you have one, etc.
Mix the dough again by hand and see if it’s the right consistency for rolling. Note that it will be much stickier than any wheat based dough, but you should be able to dust your hands with sticky rice flour and roll little 1 inch balls of dough in your palms. Mix in more flour if you need to. Take each ball and smash it flat with a floured palm into a floured surface. You will be making little pancakes. Then roll them out with a floured rolling pin into about 3 inch diameter circles, like tiny tortillas. In fact, this is exactly how I would make wheat based tortillas growing up. Working gluten-free is admittedly a bit trickier though.
Use the smallest size dumpling mold, if you have one. Molds are a speedy way to make perfect portions, but don’t fret if you don’t own one. Either way, you just spoon about a teaspoons worth of filling into the center of the circle. Close the mold tightly and remove the excess dough… or close the circle by hand into a half moon shape over the filling, and pinch pleat the rounded edges together. You could even use a fork to press the edges like you would a pie crust.
Inexpensive bamboo steamers are widely available, but here I’ve used a stainless one that sets onto my wok base. I love this thing! I actually made enough dumplings to fill it twice with this recipe. If using metal, use cooking spray on the top portion that the dough will rest on. If using bamboo, the Chinese recipe advises lining the bottom with a cloth.
Place the dumpling portion over already boiling water set on high. The Chinese recipe advises 15 minutes steaming, but I intentionally overcooked mine because I left the chicken filling out a good while during rolling… and no one wants salmonella. I actually left the second group on almost 30 minutes and they were fine, so just use your judgment.
Any leftover dough and filling can be combined into meatballs (like these that are uncooked), and baked at 325° for about 30 minutes.
Use two forks to plate your dumplings, or just bring a bamboo steamer to the table. Next time, I think I’ll roll mine out thicker and use a bit less filling. They seemed to expand as they cooked. I garnished these with more Eden shake because I love the flavor, but you can serve them with any sauce.
Here are the leftovers reheated in the microwave with marinara to morph them into an Italian ravioli fusion! They were fantastic this way! I just garnished them with parsley. You can even try adding rice based parmesan if you avoid dairy.
See more pictures of dumplings from my Chinese New Year of the Sheep / Ram Party here. Those I garnished with diced spring onion and small tomatoes and set over a bed of Bibb lettuce. The Quick Pickled Cucumber Recipe can be seen here.
Though more work than an everyday food, these little dumplings are worth the effort… especially when other family members help by making a chatty assembly line. It’s a great way to gather for a holiday!