When I visit Asian food markets, I usually pick up big bags of dumplings as surefire backups for nights when I don't feel like cooking. They're cheap, easy to cook and always filling, and can do in any kind of pinch.
They also happen to be an auspicious food for celebrating Chinese New Year — they symbolize wealth. So when I found out about locally made Yum Dragon Dumplings during the same week that Year of the Dragon arrived, I tracked down a bag to mark the occasion.
These plump little pockets are the creation of Linda Furiya, an accomplished food writer and author who lives in Shelburne. Though Furiya grew up in Indiana eating mostly Japanese fare, she's travelled and lived in China, too, and for years penned a food column for the San Francisco Chronicle on Japanese and Chinese cooking.
This week, I steamed and pan-fried a few alongside some other vegetarian dumplings, in order to compare their flavors. Furiya's definitely have their own peppery personality — sort of like a shredded spring garden spiked with garlic, scallions and ginger. A fine mince of cabbage and shiitake mushrooms give them a funky earthiness, dotted with tiny bits of carrot for sweetness and tofu for creaminess. Their squishy outsides are stained a pale green from spinach juice, too — a very Vermonty version of an almost universal food.
Steaming allows their delicate flavors to better emerge, I thought, but you need to be careful removing them from the basket as they tend to stick (at least to mine). With a cup of green tea, they make for a perfect lunch. And maybe they'll even bring a bit of luck my way this year, too.
(To make a simple dipping sauce for the dumplings, mince a thimble-sized piece of ginger and blend it with 3 tablespoons each of light soy sauce and rice vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. I also like to toast 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds and toss them into the sauce — they'll steam & sizzle when you do.)
Photo from the Yum Dragon Dumplings site. Find them at Healthy Living Market and Shelburne Supermarket.