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Spicy Quorn and mushroom dumplings

by Nancy Anne Harbord
Spicy Quorn & mushroom dumplings

Spicy Quorn and mushroom dumplings

PT1H

Why not try?

The trick to making really delectable vegetarian food is to think about all the ways you can coax out and enhance flavours. For many ingredients - raw vegetables, grains, even nuts, the flavour is quite subtle. While this can most certainly be enjoyed on its own merits, for the most part, the more flavour the better.

So as I always do, the mushrooms are browned first, to enhance their umami flavour. This time chopped fine and roasted in the oven until dried out and caramelised, before being added to the rest of the ingredients.

The filling for these dumplings is highly concentrated. As each dumpling only contains a little stuffing, the taste needs to be big. Quorn works well in this filling because of its ability to take on flavours easily, as well as because of its natural chew which adds some much needed texture.

Quorn and roasted mushrooms make up the bulk of the filling, but there are also dried shiitakes in there, adding deep, meaty flavour. Fresh, zingy garlic, ginger and spring onions bringing brightness. Hot, fragrant red chillies and Sichuan peppercorns for spice and soy sauce for seasoning. And that’s just the filling.

The dipping sauce is also a fiery flavour-bomb that explodes in your mouth – hot from the chilli and garlic, nutty and savoury from the roasted sesame oil and deeply salty from the soy. The longer you leave the dipping sauce, the stronger the flavour will be, so use that information to achieve the perfect tasting sauce for your personal tastes. I like it strong!

I have listed shop-bought dumpling wrappers in the ingredients to make this recipe as accessible as possible, but feel free to make your own dough should you feel so inclined, or indeed because you can’t find dumpling wrappers where you live. Simply blend about 200g plain flour with enough hot water to make a soft dough – not too dry and stiff, not too sticky. Run this dough through a pasta machine to make thin sheets and cut out with a biscuit cutter or glass. I’ve even had great success using whole grain flours if you’d like to add more nutrition.

Great as a starter or part of a larger Asian meal – can also be floated in a flavourful broth for a wonderful dumpling soup.

1
Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
2
Mix all the dipping sauce ingredients – the longer it sits, the stronger the flavour will be. Soak the shiitake mushrooms in enough hot water to cover for as long as possible, at least an hour. If soaking overnight, use cold water. Set aside
3
Chop the mushrooms fine in a food processor. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to coat. Spread out on one or two baking trays (they should be in a thin, even layer) and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. When they are quite brown and most of the moisture has come out, they are ready. Transfer to a large bowl. As long as the residue on the baking tray isn’t burnt, you can deglaze with a little wine or water and scrape what’s left into the mushrooms – this residue tastes delicious!
Chop the mushrooms fine in a food processor
4
Add the Quorn mince to the mushrooms. In the food processor (no need to clean), chop the soaked shiitake mushrooms, ginger, garlic and chilli until very fine and thoroughly mixed. Scrape into the bowl and combine with the mushrooms and Quorn. Add the spring onions, soy sauce and freshly ground pepper – I like the extra layer of hot, spiciness that pepper brings, so I add a lot!
5
Keeping the rest of the gyoza wrappers covered with plastic wrap, lay one on a clean work surface. Add about ½ tablespoon of filling to the middle of the wrapper. Moisten the edge furthest away from you, fold over and seal. You can just seal the edges flat if you’re not feeling too confident about making pleats. Or you can use a nifty little plastic dumpling press, which I find very useful indeed
Moisten the edge furthest away from you, fold over and seal
6
But it really is much easier that it looks. You just start at the centre and work outwards to each side in turn, making little pleats in the layer facing you as you seal. There are lots of very detailed step-by-step tutorials out there on the web if you get stuck. Just rest assured that the most important thing is that there isn’t air left in the filling (and what it tastes like!), not what it looks like. Make sure to keep your finished dumplings covered in plastic wrap as well as the wrappers, to stop them drying out as you work. At this point, they can be frozen for later use. Freeze in a single layer without touching until solid, then transfer to a freezer bag
7
When ready to cook (the process is much the same whether they’re fresh or you’re cooking them from frozen) slowly heat a large frying pan over medium-low heat until hot. Add a thin film of oil, then lift the dumplings by their seams and add to the pan, rounded filling side down. Cook for a minute or two, until the bottom is brown and crisp, then add about 100ml water and quickly cover with a lid. Steam-fry the dumplings until the water has been absorbed and the dumplings are cooked, about 5 minutes. If you take off the lid and still see water (but the dumplings look cooked) increase the heat to high and boil off the water. When the cooked dumplings have crisped up again and release easily from the pan, transfer to paper or a plate and serve immediately with the dipping sauce
Serve immediately with the dipping sauce
8
Any leftover filling has a multitude of uses – to stuff tortillas for example, or stirred into a chilli. Or to add flavour and protein to cooked whole grains. Or just keep churning out the dumplings!
 

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