Happy Chinese New Year to all my friends. This year is the year of the ox, which as I understand it, represents hard-working attitudes and reliability. I find this a perfect symbol going forward in a year where we have so many challenges ahead, and must work together to overcome many of them. Chinese cuisine is something I don’t consider myself an expert, but enjoy quite immensely. I love a good dumpling, whether it be fried, steamed, vegetarian or filled with meat. Who doesn’t?!
I love spicy food too, especially with the perfect amount of heat, yet often, dumplings tend to be on the mild side. So I thought, why not spice them up with a little chili oil and minced serrano pepper? I know that’s not a traditional Chinese recipe, but it’s darn tasty, and the balance of flavors comes through, especially after you add some cool and creamy chopped shrimp.
A dipping sauce is a tasty side kick to any good dumpling recipe. I combined similar ingredients that I used in the dumpling filling with the addition of a teaspoon of agave nectar for sweetness. This tangy soy-based sauce adds additional seasoning to the dumplings, and creates a perfect bite of pleasure. Let’s all celebrate today, and create a batch right in our own kitchens. Happy New Year.
1/2 pound fresh jumbo shrimp
3 ounce water chestnuts
6 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
2 teaspoons chili oil, divided
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil, divided
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1/2 Serrano chili, minced
1 scallion, sliced
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
18 round dumpling wrappers, refrigerated section of grocery store
(Makes 18 Dumplings)
1. Remove tails and devein shrimp. Chop shrimp into 1/4 inch pieces.
2. In a food processor, add half of shrimp, water chestnuts, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 teaspoon chili oil, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, white part of scallion and serrano chili. Pulse mixture about 12 times, until smooth. Remove from food processor and place in a bowl. Add chopped cilantro, juice of 1/2 lime and other half of chopped shrimp. Stir to combine.
3. Using your finger, lightly wet edges of dumpling wrapper and dollop a heaping teaspoon of shrimp mixture into center. Fold in half and press edges together. Repeat until all wrappers are filled.
4. In a large sauté pan, add 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil and place over medium high heat. Add half dumplings and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip dumplings over and add 1/3 cup of water to pan, cover with lid. Steam dumplings for 3 minutes. Remove lid and continue to cook another minute.
5. Repeat cooking process with remaining dumplings. To make sauce, add 4 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of chili oil, 1 teaspoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon agave nectar and green part of the scallion to a bowl. Stir to combine. Place all dumplings on a serving platter and serve with sauce. Enjoy!