As a private chef, I like to keep things interesting…I never want to be stale in the eyes of my clients so it’s important to me to continue to diversify my repertoire of recipes. When one of my clients asked for dumplings/potstickers I was immediately energized – and admittedly a tad terrified because as you probably well know, I make everything gluten-free and from scratch. I believe that no matter what diet you choose to follow cooking things at home from real ingredients will yield the best results.
If you’re familiar with the gluten-free world and have dabbled in cooking/baking g-f, you will understand when I say that the prospect of making successful g-f dumplings seems almost entirely fruitless. The very nature of being gluten free means that the flours do not have that binding agent that makes them elastic, pliable and basically stick together. Therefore, you have to trick the dough into doing that for you when all it wants to do is fall apart and crumble into pieces. Oy.
The second battle is to make the dough thin enough to work as a dumpling…well I can’t say the method is 100% perfected, but after two tries I can at least say it’s well on it’s way and I got a product good enough to present to my client…phew!
The first try was a serious bust. I wanted to take the quick – use an already made product- serious shortcut. So, I used rice paper (you know- the clear rubbery stuff they use to wrap spring rolls with) I created a ground turkey filling with ginger, sesame oil, shredded bok choy and carrots, scallions and garlic with a bit of lime zest and stuffed the rice paper wrappers. Epic fail. They came out of the bamboo steamer looking beyond disgusting…I’m only showing this photo because it’s tough to describe how gross it looked.
As I said F A I L…PLEASE DO NOT REPLICATE THIS! Gross.
The meat was delicious, but I’m pretty sure that gunk is going to be stuck inside my stomach longer than a wad of gum.
Second try – everything from scratch. One trick to getting elastic dough from gluten free flours is to add hot water to tapioca flour. It creates this insanely gummy, highly sticky mess that can absolutely be used to your advantage. For this recipe I used a combination of tapioca flour, quinoa flour and brown rice – added a dash of salt, a bit of ghee, one beaten egg and yes, you guessed it – a touch of hot water. I kneeded it together with my hands, rolled it out on a floured surface and prayed for the best! Here’s how it went down…
1 head baby bok choy, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, grated
1 scallion, finely chopped
1″ ginger, grated
1 large clove garlic, grated
zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix until fully combined. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready for use. It is important to make the filling before the dough becuase the dough will become increasingly difficult to work with as it dries out.
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup quinoa flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon ghee, softened
2 tablespoons boiling water
In a medium bowl, combine flours and salt until well incorporated. Add the egg and ghee to the flour and mix to combine. the dough should be dry and flaky but begin to come together.
At this point, add the hot water and fold into the dough. The dough should be pliable but not sticky. Flour your hands and counter top with tapioca flour and pat the dough with tapioca as well. Using your hands, kneed the dough until it becomes smooth then roll out into a log shape. Use a rolling pin (or if you don’t have one, a glass with smooth sides) to roll the dough as thin as possible without tearing the dough. This has to be done genlty and with a lot of intention. Keep adding flour where needed and press hard but gently. It should look something like this…
Next, use a wide mouthed glass (like I did) or a large biscuit cutter to create rounds for your dumplings. Keep a cup of hot water near by to help bind the dumplings when you fold them.
One at a time lift the rounds into the palm of your hand – I used a fish spatula to help me with this, just seemed like the perfect tool, but a thin regular spatula could work too. Put a small spoon of your turkey filling in the center of your dough rounds and a dab of water around the edges.
Then, use your fingers to pinch up from the bottom and create 4 folds around the meat. It should look something like this:
Repeat until all the dough is used. Place in a bamboo steaming basket layered with lettuce or kale to prevent sticking. I didn’t have either so I used spinach…a little less ideal but it worked ok.
Let steam for 8-10 minutes until meat is firm and cooked through and the dough is tender. This isn’t the best photo because the wilted spinach leaves were stuck to the bottom, but you get the idea!
I served these with a quick plum dipping sauce made from plum jam, sesame oil, soy sauce, lemon juice and fresh grated ginger. Yum!