Growing up, Oscar night was always very exciting. My Mom would let my sisters and me stay up to watch the show, and we’d ooh and ahh over the actresses’ dresses, and root for our favorite movies and directors to win. Know this: I am no less excited now by the big show than I was back then. I don’t think I’ve missed a broadcast since those days. It’s my Superbowl.
For the past three or four years, I’ve had a lot of fun trying to see as many of the best picture nominees on the big screen as possible. This is, of course, more difficult now that there are NINE, but trying to keep up with what’s still out in theaters (often movies are re-released before the Academy Awards) is a blast- I see a lot of movies I may not have chosen to otherwise (ahem, Moneyball).
Since the Oscar night tradish starts with watching the red carpet broadcasts and snarkily panning sub-par dresses, I uncorked a bottle of wine, ogled Gwyneth’s Tom Ford-designed dress and CAPE (cape!!), and made these:
VEGETARIAN STEAMED DUMPLINGS
adapted, to the T, from Alton Brown
- 1/2 pound firm tofu (I used Nasoya sprouted tofu)
- 1/2 c grated carrot (about half a large carrot)
- 1/2 cup shredded cabbage (I used bagged angel hair cole slaw cabbage)
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 large scallion, finely chopped (2 tbsp)
- 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp reduced- sodium soy sauce (Kikkoman is delicious)
- 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 lightly beaten egg
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- wonton wrappers (package of 35-40)
- bowl of water and pastry brush
- non-stick canola oil spray
First, a note: Most of this is prep work- draining the tofu, chopping the veggies, and assembling the dumplings. It’s time-consuming, but worth it for a special meal and not very complicated. The accompanying recipe, egg drop soup, is much more simple.
Slice your tofu block in half (8 oz of tofu). Place two paper towels under, in between and on top of the tofu; place on a plate and top with a heavy bowl, and another bowl or a canned food item on top to help the tofu drain. Let sit 20 minutes.
Chop, grate, slice, and dice the veggies- the cilantro, cabbage if you are not using bagged, ginger, carrot, scallion, and red bell pepper. Toss all veggies in a large bowl. When the tofu has drained, dice into 1/4 inch pieces. Add tofu to bowl along with the beaten egg, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, salt, and pepper, and mix all of it up to combine well (the tofu may break up a bit- don’t worry about that).
Meanwhile, set up your dumpling station:
- open your wonton wrappers and cover them with a wet cloth so they don’t dry out as you work with them
- get out a large cookie sheet and spray with oil; this is where you’ll keep dumplings as you make them
- Ready a damp cloth to place over dumplings waiting to be steamed
- set your bowl of water and pastry brush between your bowl of filling, wrappers, and cookie sheet
To make a dumpling, brush the four outside edges of a wonton wrapper with water, and moisten your fingers. Water act like glue on these little guys- the more moist your fingers are, the more control you’ll have over the wrapper’s shape and seal. Spoon a teaspoon of filling into the center of the wrapper; fold edges together and crimp over to seal. I folded into triangles and crimped the edges, but there are all sorts of ways to fold them. RasaMalaysia links to a video of how to crimp dumplings on their steamed dumpling page.
Repeat until all dumplings are stuffed, lined up on the cookie sheet, and covered with a damp cloth. Fill a wok outfitted with a bamboo steamer or a skillet with a metal colander or steamer rack in with a half inch of water, and spray the steamer with a light coat of oil. Bring water to a boil, and fill the steamer with as many dumplings as will fit without touching; cover. Steam for 12 minutes per batch until all batches are done, removing finished batches onto another sprayed cookie sheet in a warm oven… or directly into our mouth. You’ll need to add more steaming water as you go.
I made a simple dipping sauce of 1/2 cup soy, 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 2 tsp sesame oil, a tsp brown sugar, a few gratings of ginger, and cut scallions. These are also very good with Sriracha (and red wine and gelato, haha)!! Also delicious with this simple side:
VEGETARIAN EGG DROP SOUP (VEG, GF)
- 6 cups vegetable broth, or 6 cups water and 5 tsps vegetable cooking base or bouillon
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- dash white pepper
- a chopstick
This is so easy!!! After the dumplings chronicles, you’re going to love the two steps this takes!! Great quick weeknight soup- not just for watching fancy awards shows.
Bring stock or water and bullion, soy, sesame oil, half of the scallions, and the dash of pepper to a light simmer. Pour beaten eggs into the simmering broth in a slow, steady stream, stirring with a chopstick. Top with remaining scallions. DONE!!
All in all, it was a great night. There were savory dumplings and soup, dessert, wine, and my beloved The Artist won best picture!! I hope you have fun making these dumplings. The filling would be so forgiving and easy to modify by adding pork, minced shrimp, other vegetables, etc. Let me know how you make them!