Like many other Asian you might have met, I have grown up eating countless dumplings in my life. Have I eaten a lot of pre-made store-bought dumplings, you asked? I am guilty as charged here. To be honest, before I was faced with Angela’s disastrous eczema skin condition, I was not aware of how many harmful stuff I have consumed all day everyday. Many of which were in the readily made dumplings I always brought at my local oriental store. Once in a while I would make some homemade dumplings but without exception, those contain large amounts of salt, oil and other seasonings. Knowing how bad those high sodium dumplings are, I would not feed them to my daughter now. It is not like they are poisonous; I just rather let her eat something healthier. As they said, “the food you eat can be your most powerful form of medicine or slowest form of poison” after all.
On my journey to experiment with different healthier dumpling versions, a great discover was surfaced: vegetable dumplings. You in fact do not have to include any meat in your homemade dumplings and still can end up with a very mouthwatering dumpling dish that your toddler will be excited to try. What vegetable to include is entirely up to you; but make sure to stick with those that have quick cooking time (or else your dumpling wrapper is cooked way before your filling and that will make the dumplings collapse). I suggest you use baby spinach leaves, radish leaves, mustard leaves, kale, sweet corn kernels, green beans, grated baby carrot, finely diced broccoli / cauliflower, watercress and the like. If you must use harder vegetables like cabbage or celery, finely dice them and sauté them for a few minutes before adding them to your filling. That will help shorter the steaming time later on. In the photo below, I used baby spinach leaves and mushroom for my dumplings and they turned out great. I did not even have to pulse them using my food processor, I just teared the spinach leaves and chopped the mushroom then mixed them up with mashed tofu. How convenient is that? Especially when you do not have time for some extra piled up utensils in your kitchen.
When you make homemade dumplings, it is entirely up to you to shape them the way you like. Half moon, ruffle top, or ravioli-styled, you name it. You do what is easiest for your hands or what is most pleasing to your eyes. You are in control of the shape, size and filling.
Note: To freeze the dumplings, after wrapping them, put them on a tray and place in your freezer for 2 hours. Remove from the tray and place in a zip-lock bag, label and they are good like that in your freezer for a month.
Making these homemade dumplings with your toddler can mean an hour long fun bonding session between you two. Let him scoop the filling on to the wrappers for you while you do the shaping. Or you can let him mix the filling while you prepare the steamer. He will be more than happy to help and you will be surprised how many of them he will eat when they are done steaming. Oh while we are at it, these dumplings are good to consume right after steaming. But you also have an option to serve them as dumpling soup. Just warm up some soup stock (vegetable or meat is up to you), toss some dumplings in, season to taste and garnish with finely chop spring onion or coriander. Then you have a bowl of warm comfort food for yourself or your toddler.