Chinese food. I’ve been craving it like mad. Before Celiac entered my life, we used to go to a great Chinese restaurant at least once a week. It’s been three years and I decided it was time to have a Chinese food comeback. Except I would be the chef!
Tofu Shu Mei (steamed or pan-fried dumplings or in my case steamed and pan-fried!)
Braised Chinese Eggplant with Sundried Tomatoes
Sauteed Green Beans
Special Fried Rice
Quite honestly, you could make a dinner out of any one of my menu items, but I wanted to replicate how we used to order at Chinese restaurants, which is to say always order way more than you can eat and then bring home the leftovers.
As usual, I got all of my inspiration from the internet. I am very grateful to the four sources of my Chinese feast (linked above).
The most time-consuming part of this menu and the recipe I’ll be posting about (but in my opinion very much worth the effort) was the gluten free wonton wrappers. It was definitely not difficult, but it was definitely time-consuming, at least for my first attempt. I’m sure if I made them again today, the process would be quicker. I used a mix that I like a great deal called Better Batter which can be ordered in bulk from amazon.com or from the Better Batter website. However, I’ll bet you can make these with other gluten free flour mixes like Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Mix or Pamela’s bread mix or perhaps you’ve made your own gluten free flour mix.
I will tell you this: THEY TASTED JUST LIKE REGULAR WONTONS MADE FROM WHEAT!!! They were friggin’ delicious. And I can’t wait to make them again!
Tofu Shu Mei (dumplings)
recipe below for tofu dumplings and dipping sauce adapted from an online adaptation of steamed meatballs from “The Frugal Gourmet” by Jeff Smith (original recipe called for ground meat)
1/2 c. fish sauce (replace about 1/4 of this with water as the fish sauce is strong)
1/3 c. rice wine vinegar
1/3 c. sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 tsp crushed red pepper
For the dipping sauce, mix all ingredients together. Store in the frig until ready to use it. Please note that I cut the original dipping sauce ingredients by a third, as the original recipe makes way more than you need.
1 lb firm or extra-firm tofu
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
3/4 tsp. cooking sherry (optional)
2 tbsp. wheat-free tamari
2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
3 scallions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
3/4 tsp. salt
16 gluten free wonton skins (see recipe below)
bowl of water (explained below)
iceberg lettuce leaves (can use other lettuce or cabbage leaves)
wok and bamboo steamer or saucepan with steamer insert or electric steamer
peanut oil for frying (optional)
To construct the wontons, the first thing you have to do is squeeze the water out of the tofu. I do this by wrapping it in a cotton kitchen towel and twisting. Scrape the squeezed tofu into a bowl. You might have to scrape some of the tofu from the towel with a knife or spoon.
Mix the tofu with the cornstarch, cooking sherry (optional, wheat-free tamari, ginger, scallions, garlic, brown sugar, sesame oil, and salt, thoroughly combining the ingredients.
Take one wonton wrapper and lay it on your prep surface. Have a small bowl of water nearby. Place about 1 1/2 tbsp of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Wet your finger and run it along two perpendicular sides of the wrapper or if the wrapper is round, run your wet finger from 9 PM to 3 PM. Fold the dry edge of the wrapper to meet the wet edge of the wrapper and press to seal. You can use the tines of a fork to carefully press the dough for a decorated more authentic wonton edge. If the dough is sticky, it might break. If that happens, punt. They might not look as pretty, but they’ll still taste darn good.
My instructions are for the wok and Chinese bamboo steamer, as that is what I used. But I think you could steam them in a vegetable steamer or an electric steamer (like this one). Pour a few cups of water in your wok. Layer each rack of your bamboo steamer with lettuce leaves. Place the dumplings on the leaves. Each dumpling can be very close to the next dumpling. Place in wok, over the water. Bring water to boil and steam dumplings for 15 – 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the water and add more as necessary to prevent pan from drying out.
Remove bamboo steamer from wok to prevent further steaming.
Panfrying the dumplings is an optional next step. My dumplings were panfried, as I like my dumplings crisp. Pour peanut oil into a frying pan. When hot, add dumplings and fry each side until crisp. Drain on dry paper towels.
Serve with dipping sauce.
Homemade Gluten Free Wonton Skins
recipe adapted from The Accidental Vegetarian
1 cup Better Batter GF flour
4 tbsp water (plus extra as needed)
extra flour for rolling
wet paper towels ripped in half
Using either a stand or hand mixer, beat the flour and egg together. You’ll know it’s the right consistency when you pinch it between your thumb and pointer finger and it holds together, kind of like playdough. Be careful about not adding extra water unless absolutely necessary. Better to err on the side of too little, as you can add water as needed.
I can’t emphasize enough that you need to LIBERALLY use flour for the forming of your wontons.
First, keep your rolling pin heavily floured every time you roll a wonton skin, using the same flour with which you made your dough. Though I own a wooden rolling pin, I’ll bet that the new silicon non-stick rolling pins would be excellent for making these wontons.
Remove dough from mixing bowl and knead into one large symmetrical shape. Make sure your kneading surface remains constantly well-floured. Divide your shape into four pieces. Set three of them aside, underneath a wet paper towel or tea towel. NOTE: I used a silicon baking mat as the surface on which I kneaded and rolled my wontons. It was an ideal surface.
Take one of the dough pieces and roll into a snake. Evenly divide the snake into four pieces. Lay three of the four pieces under the wet paper towel to keep moist. Under your wet paper towel you should have three of the original larger dough pieces and three of the smaller dough pieces.
Take the remaining dough piece and use your hand to flatten it into as much of a square as you can. It never really got totally square-shaped, as the edges were a bit ragged. Sprinkle the top of your square with flour. Roll it as thin as you can without breaking the dough.
Flour the top of a thin metal spatula, then use it to carefully remove the finished wonton skin to a plate that has a piece of wet paper towel on it. Cover the wonton with another piece of wet paper towel.
Continue until you have 16 wonton skins.
NOTE: Once I got the hang of this, I decided I wanted more perfectly shaped wontons. After rolling each of the small pieces of dough, I cut a square with my pizza cutter. I saved the extra ragged pieces of dough and was able to use it to make another one or two extra wontons.
This was a lot of work, but well-worth it. It definitely felt like the old days. One from column A, two from column B!