Sweet Potato and Shiitake Dumplings with a Soy Sauce Dip

This recipe was inspired by Jean Kwok’s novel: Searching for Sylvie Lee.

Book reference: p.78, Describing Grandma: “…where were the strong hands I remembered, the ones that guided me home after school each day and stirred the flour for wontons and dumplings?”

Making your own dumplings is not as daunting as it may seem. A little time-consuming until you get the hang of it, once you try your hand at a couple of them, I hope you’ll agree that this is an appetizer easily made at home. This vegetarian filling I’ve created has a fine balance of sweet and savoury from the vegetables I’ve chosen. The textures, grated and chopped, once cooked down, soften just enough to ensure the mixture holds together nicely once inside the dumpling. I really like the toasty notes coming in from the addition of sesame oil, which pairs well with the slightly salty soy sauce.

Dumplings are one of those dishes that are great as an appetizer, but if you’re like me, I would happily also eat them as a main. A plate of dumplings, served with a helping of steamed rice, and green salad on the side, would tick all of the boxes for a satisfying meal.

I don’t need to wish you luck with this recipe. Pinching dumplings is well worth the effort and will become second nature, in no time!

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Makes: 2-3 dozen

Ingredients for the dumpling filling

  • 1-2 Tbsp light olive oil for frying the filling
2 small shallots, finely diced
  • 150 g (small-medium) sweet potato, coarsely grated (1-1/2 cups)
  • 135 g (about 2 cups) shiitake mushrooms, finely chopped (remove stems and discard before chopping)
  • 100 g baby bok choy, sliced cross-wise into 1 cm strips then diced (1-½ cups)
  • 2 green onions, green part only, sliced into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
5 cms (2 inches) of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp light olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Round wonton/dumpling wrappers – these can be found at an
    Asian supermarket, in the frozen section
2-3 Tbsp oil for frying the dumplings
  • ¼ – ½ cup of water for steaming

Ingredients for the dipping sauce

  • 125ml (½ cup) low sodium soy sauce, or tamari
  • 125ml (½ cup) red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup, or honey
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 Tbsp minced ginger (about 5cm, or 2 inches)
  • 2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp sesame seeds
  • Measure all ingredients into a bowl, mix, and set aside

Directions for the dumpling filling, and filling the dumplings

If you bought frozen dumpling wrappers, remember to take them out of the freezer and set on the counter to thaw, about an hour before you start.

Begin by prepping the vegetables and have them ready to add into the frying pan, one by one. In a large frying pan over medium heat, warm the oil and add in the chopped shallots. Stir these around for 2 minutes, until they begin to soften. Next, add the grated sweet potato, and soften for another 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, and cook until they release their water at which point you want to add the bok choy, green onions, garlic, and ginger. Give this mixture a good stir while all ingredients soften and meld together (about 4 minutes.) Then, add the soy sauce, sesame oil, olive oil, and black pepper. Incorporate this into the veg mixture, remove the pan from the heat, and set aside until it’s cool enough to handle when you make the dumplings.

Filling and folding the dumplings

Using a generous tablespoon of the mixture, drop this onto the wonton wrapper that you have wet around the edges with a bit of water, then pinch the edges of the dumpling together, making sure to squeeze out any potential air bubbles. When your dumplings have been pinched, I suggest setting them aside on pieces of baking or waxed paper so they don’t stick to the surface. (At this point, you can freeze the dumplings to use another time. From frozen, it would be easier to boil the dumplings until they float to the top, and finish them off in a bit of oil in a frying pan.)

Cooking the dumplings

Heat 1 Tbsp of light olive oil in a large, preferably (non-toxic, eco-friendly) non-stick pan on medium heat. Try not to crowd the dumplings. I suggest doing these in batches. If your dumplings are touching each other, they may stick together. Give them some space 🙂

Add the dumplings, one by one, flat side down, and allow to cook for 2-3 minutes, until they start to crisp up on the bottom.  Check that this is happening by using a pair of tongs to gently lift them and have a peek. When the bottoms have turned a medium brown and are starting to look crispy, it’s time to add about ¼ cup of hot water to your pan, and then top with a lid so the dumplings can steam. BEWARE: oil and water do not mix! This can be a tricky moment. To avoid getting splattered by the hot oil, I urge you to have your lid at the ready, partially covering the dumplings in the pan. Add the water at the far side of your pan, and top it with the lid to allow the dumplings to steam for another two minutes. Check on the dumplings while they are steaming. After two minutes, remove one and cut it open to check for doneness. They should be ready. Transfer the cooked dumplings to a serving platter and enjoy with the dipping sauce!

**If you’d like to add some spice to this dip, shake in some red pepper flakes, sriracha, or a few rings of chopped hot red pepper. [/directions]

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