I’ve never understood why nothing is open on a Monday night. Maybe that’s not the case where you live, but here in Brisbane restaurants almost universally close on Mondays. I think eating out on a Monday night should be mandatory. There’s way too much wallowing going on amongst the people who insist that they need to hang around the house. If anything, Monday is the perfect day for someone else to do the dishes and give you a break. The perfect time to reject the classic Garfield attitude towards Mondays, and go have a drink (just one, still gotta work boo), and eat something truly delicious without having to cook it or wash up afterwards.
I get it though – we all have our rituals, and if sweatpants and couch-time is what you need to get through the day, then you’ll get no judgement from me. If I can’t convince you to break tradition and hit up your local Izakaya on a Monday night, you should make some veggie dumplings instead. Here’s the thing though; don’t make them on a Monday. Make them on a Saturday morning, a Sunday afternoon, or a Thursday night. Make up a giant batch, and then stash those suckers in the freezer. It doesn’t take that long, and if you’re like me you’ll get a deep sense of satisfaction from seeing all the fat little dumplings lining up on your tray. Once they’re frozen, you can just stash them in a zip-lock bag, to be taken out and cooked straight from frozen.
The feeling of sheer, wide-eyed, self love that I get after I pull homemade dumplings from the freezer and get them into my belly within fifteen minutes is heart-burstingly huge. I mean, I really think I’m hot shit whenever this happens. And as if I wasn’t feeling myself enough, I realised just after we finished scoffing these that they are completely vegan. It was just a coincidence, brought about my an excess of wombok (aka chinese cabbage) in the fridge, and the thought that meaty mushrooms and beautifully sweet carrots would balance its bitterness perfectly. I started with a base of ginger, garlic and spring onions (aka scallions), then seasoned everything with soy aplenty, sesame oil, white pepper, salt and a pinch of sugar.
These are crunchy on the bottom, silky at the sides, and full of a deeply savoury, beautifully aromatic mixture. We absolutely demolished these dipped in a bowl of extra soy, and a pot of chilli-garlic sauce. With a cold beer, or a glass of soda water and lime, these are the platonic ideal of a Monday night dinner. So damn, good, people! Try ’em.
P.S. I know this seems like a cliche, but my boyfriend really didn’t know there wasn’t any meat in these. So there’s that.
- 1 tbsp peanut oil, plus extra
- 2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 1 thumb-sized chunk of ginger, peeled and minced
- 5 spring onions (scallions) white and green parts finely chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and grated
- 5-7 chestnut mushrooms, diced (to make about 1½ cups)
- ⅛th wombok, diced (to make about 1½ cups)
- ½ tsp white pepper
- 1-2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2-3 tsp sesame oil
- 1-2 tsp sugar
- 24 gyoza wrappers
- Heat the peanut oil in a wok or large non-stick frying pan over high heat.
- Add the sliced ginger, garlic and spring onion to the pan and cook for about 20 seconds.
- Add in the carrot, mushrooms and cabbage, and cook, stirring regularly, until the mixture sweats down and all the moisture cooks away - about 5 minutes.
- Season with the white pepper, and the smaller amounts of soy, sesame oil, and sugar, then taste the mix, adding more of whatever you think it needs.
- Set the mixture aside to cool completely.
- Place just over a teaspoon of the mixture into each gyoza then fold the wrapper over and pinch the edge to seal.
- At this point, the dumplings can be frozen.
- To cook the dumplings, place a thin layer of peanut oil into a non-stick frying pan, and place the pan over a medium heat. Carefully place the dumplings in the pan, and cook until the bottoms are lightly browned. Add just over half a cup of water into the hot pan (be careful, it will spit), and then quickly place the lid on.
- Cook until the water evaporates, then remove the lid and cook until the bottoms are browned and crispy.
- Serve hot, with extra soy sauce and chilli-garlic sauce.