07 July 2010

One Filling, Two Finger Foods

I love discovering the versatility of various foods.  Part of what makes cooking so enjoyable is that fact that recipes can so often be treated as guidelines that allow one's creativity to give food an individual, personalized spin.  That was the case during the last gyoza-making session I underwent; I thought back to various recipes I've used, deciding to borrow some of the basic flavors I remembered, and alter it to my liking.  Tempeh made its debut as a meaty backbone to the spontaneous gyoza filling that ended up doubling as lumpia filling (more on that below).  The following is the best approximation I have for what I ended up doing.


Tempeh Mushroom Gyoza or Lumpia Filling (printable recipe)
Yields approximately 3 cups


1 (8 oz) package tempeh, cut into large cubes
1 c mushrooms, minced (I used crimini, but white button mushrooms are fine.  Shiitake would be good, too.)
1 c cabbage, minced
1/2 c carrots, finely shredded
4 green onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated or minced (Omit if using the filling for lumpia.)
2 tsp vegetable or canola oil
2 T shoyu/soy sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Salt, to taste
Sriracha, to taste (optional)


Fill a pot with just enough water to cover the tempeh.  Bring the water to a boil, add the cubed tempeh, and simmer over medium for 10 minutes.  Drain the tempeh and crumble it as much as possible.  Set aside.


In a large pan, heat the oil over a medium-low flame.  Add the mushrooms and saute until browned.  Add the cabbage, carrots, green onions, garlic, and ginger, continuing to cook the mixture until fragrant and the cabbage has cooked down.  Stir in shoyu, ground black pepper, and sriracha, if using.  Taste and adjust salt and seasoning, if necessary.  Allow to cool before filling gyoza skins or lumpia wrappers.
You can find a good method for making gyoza from scratch (including skins!) here.  I made my own gyoza skins this time around--normally I buy them pre-made--using half whole wheat pastry flour, half all-purpose flour.  If you have the time, patience, and the inclination, I recommend going the distance by making your own gyoza skins.  I thought it worked well, except that I should have used a larger biscuit cutter, because the discs were too small to fit in the gyoza crimper I still have not had a chance to use.  But I guess a bunch of mini gyoza is cute.  And they were completely homemade, which is always a plus.
I cooked the gyoza as Morgan did, except I browned three of the sides (rather than just the bottom) before steaming them.  My dipping sauce was comparably simple: a bit of shoyu, sriracha, brown rice vinegar, agave nectar, and a drop or so toasted sesame oil.  It complemented the savory and slightly addictive dumplings nicely.
I ended up having more filling than gyoza skins, which was no problem, because when I first tasted the filling on its own, it reminded me somewhat of Lumpiang Shanghai.  There are different types of lumpia (a type of Filipino snack roll), Lumpiang Shanghai refers to the fried type that is reminiscent of a Chinese-style eggroll, but smaller and thinner.  The Shanghai-style Lumpia are traditionally filled with ground meat--my family always used ground beef--some vegetables, and aromatics like onion and garlic.  Like much of Filipino cuisine, these snacks aren't exactly veg-friendly.  Unless, of course, there is someone willing to experiment in the kitchen.


That's where the gyoza filling comes in.  With the exception of the distinct ginger flavor, the filling tasted similar to the lumpia filling (due to the meatiness of the tempeh and mushrooms) I loved as a kid.  The texture was also similar enough to a ground meat filling that it seemed like an ideal foundation for creating a vegan version of Lumpiang Shanghai.  So I grabbed wrappers from the freezer (I always seem to have them around) to thaw for some next-day lumpia-wrapping, using the leftover gyoza filling.  (By the way, the lumpia wrappers my family has always preferred are basically flour, water, salt, and oil--totally veg-friendly.  They're essentially spring roll wrappers, so use those if you can't find something specifically labeled as "lumpia wrappers.")


To make lumpia, you roll them as you would an eggroll, but using less filling.  There is a useful, step-by-step tutorial here.  I think using an entire wrapper for one lumpia is excessive, so I always cut the round ones into two semicircular halves, or if I have square wrappers, I cut them in half diagonally.  I then lay a pencil-thin amount of filling--if you make it specifically for lumpia, omit the ginger--approximately four inches long, along the straight edge of the wrapper (the hypotenuse/longest edge, if using a triangular piece) to begin the rolling process.  And because egg wash is obviously not vegan, I use a very loose cornstarch-and-water slurry to seal the edges.  The cornstarch gums easily, so it helps to swipe a bit of excess water over the slurry to spread it over the edge more evenly and provide better sticking power.  Until I find something better, this sealant will have to do.
Once you have a batch of lumpia rolled, they're ready for shallow frying.  I really don't like to fry food, but baking these rolls does not work very well, because the inner layers of wrapper remain chewy, rather than crispy.  And that crispiness is what makes Lumpiang Shanghai so addictively delicious.  So if you plan on making them, I highly suggest the traditional frying method: heat up a half-inch of vegetable or canola oil in a pan, carefully place a few rolls in the hot oil, cook until the bottom is golden brown, flip, and continue cooking until the other side is also golden brown.  Remove the cooked rolls to a paper towel-lined plate to drain some of the excess oil.  Allow the lumpia to cool slightly before serving with sweet-and-sour dipping sauce, if desired.
Both the gyoza and lumpia were distinctly tasty, and made by merely using different wrappers and cooking methods.  It's nice to know that even the simplest changes can provide delicious variety.

9 comments:

  1. Girl, you are an awesome lumpia/gyoza maker! Those look perfect! I haven't made lumpia in forever!

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  2. Your little Gyoza turned out so cute! Ok, that dipping sauce you made looks goooood! Gotta try it next time...
    I totally agree that there is just something so good about a meal made entirely from scratch!
    Thanks so much for the shout out!

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  3. those look fab, i would probably just eat the filling since i can't make lumpia/gyoza

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  4. Those look wonderful! Can't wait to try them!

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  5. Those both look SO good. You are making me hungry. ;-)

    I never follow recipes either. All the fun in cooking is making recipes your own.

    Ali

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  6. I've never even heard of lumpia, but that looks soooo good. Sort of like a healthier vegan version of the gas station taquitos that my weird meat-eating boyfriend loves.

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  7. I've never even heard of lumpia, but that looks soooo good. Sort of like a healthier vegan version of the gas station taquitos that my weird meat-eating boyfriend loves.

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  8. Those both look SO good. You are making me hungry. ;-)

    I never follow recipes either. All the fun in cooking is making recipes your own.

    Ali

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  9. those look fab, i would probably just eat the filling since i can't make lumpia/gyoza

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Thanks for reading! Your comments are always welcome and appreciated. :)