Soybeans: the versatility of this single ingredient is amazing! They can be enjoyed in the form of young edamame, tempeh, miso, soy sauce, tofu, soy milk, soybean oil, etc. These soybean derivatives are all pantry staples, so I was thrilled when Soy Connection asked me to promote this month's Soy Delish Recipe Contest. This post was created as a paid partnership with Soy Connection and the United Soybean Board. All opinions expressed are my own.
Soybeans are a complete plant-based protein, meaning that they contain all nine essential amino acids your body needs, so it's comparable to meat, but without the cholesterol! They are also packed with nutrients like calcium, iron, folate, potassium and magnesium.
What's also incredible about these legumes is that they've been grown for thousands of years – there's evidence of soybean were first cultivated between 7000 and 6600 BC in China! During the Zhou dynasty (1050-256 BC), soybeans were one of the Five Sacred Grains, along with millet, wheat, rice, and hemp. Soy crops first came to America in 1765 as an experimental crop and have since become a leading U.S. export.
Today, I'm celebrating soybeans with Tofu & Edamame Dumplings. The tofu is "meatier" – and freezing it gives it a more textural bite. This is eloquently known as Thousand Layer Tofu because when the water in the tofu freezes, it causes the tofu to expand and creates ‘thousands’ of tiny air pockets. This is complemented with edamame, shiitake mushrooms, and juiciness from a soy sauce vegan aspic that softens when steaming the dumplings. You could say that I was ‘soy’ inspired! :)
Juicy Tofu & Edamame Dumplings
(Makes 30 dumplings)
FOR THE FILLING
16 oz (453) firm tofu
1 cup (150g) shelled edamame
3 shiitake mushrooms
2 Tbsp soybean oil (commonly labelled as vegetable oil)
1 Tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine (or sake or vodka) optional
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper powder
1 cup soy aspic (see below)
TO MAKE THE ASPIC
1½ cups (360 ml) water
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp mushroom powder
1 tsp agar agar powder
FOR THE WRAPPERS*
2 cups (250g) flour
6 oz (170g) fresh spinach, optional
½ cup (120 ml) water
PREPARE IN ADVANCE
Cut the tofu into ½-inch (1cm) cubes and place on a parchment paper lined tray and freeze for at least 2 hours.
Make the vegan aspic in a frying pan by pouring in the water and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and sprinkle in the mushroom powder, stirring to dissolve. Sprinkle the agar agar powder evenly on the liquid's surface so that it doesn't clump. Let the powder dissolve, turn the heat down to a gentle boil for 2 minutes. It will thicken slightly. Pour into a bowl and let it cool. When cool to touch, place the bowl in the refrigerator to set.
Take the tofu and shelled edamame out of the freezer and the aspic out of the fridge. Let these sit at room temperature for an hour.
Prepare the dumpling wrappers. If you're using spinach to dye the wrappers, then steam the leaves for 1-2 minutes until wilted. Blend with ½ cup (120 ml) water
Place the flour in a large bowl. Whilst stirring continuously, gradually pour in the blended spinach (or water) until the mixture begins to clump together in little clusters. When a large ball of dough starts to form, don't add any more liquid. You may not need all of the spinach juice (save that for a smoothie)!
Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough becomes smooth and elastic. If it's sticky and too wet, add another tablespoon or two of flour. If it's too dry, add another tablespoon of spinach water. Cover the dough with a clean, damp dish cloth and set aside for 20 minutes while you prepare the filling.
Finely chop the tofu, edamame and mushrooms and place into a bowl. Combine with the soybean oil, cooking wine (if using), ginger, sugar, salt and white pepper. Finely chop or crumble the aspic and mix evenly into the filling.
On a clean, lightly floured work surface, roll the wrapper dough into a long, skinny log – about 1-inch (2.5 cm) in diameter and divide it into 30 equal pieces. Keep these pieces covered with a damp dish cloth while you're assembling the dumplings. Use a rolling pin to flatten each piece and roll it out into thin 1/16-inch (2mm) by 4" inch (10 cm) diameter rounds – try to roll them as thin as possible without tearing the wrapper when assembling. And it's perfectly acceptable if they're not perfect circles.
Assemble the dumplings one at a time: place one dough round in the palm of your hand. Place one tablespoonful of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Fold pleats (clockwise or counterclockwise) around the circumference of the wrapper that overlap each other slightly and meet in the middle. As you get towards the last fold, start to twist and gather pleats in the same direction you've been folding, creating a pointy tip in the center. Place the assembled dumpling onto a parchment-paper lined steamer basket and continue to assemble until you run out of wrappers or filling.
Make sure to have an inch (2.5cm) of space between each dumpling, and steam them for 7-8 minutes over an inch (2.5cm) of boiling water. Serve hot!
For the month of August, @SoyConnection is hosting the Soy Delish Recipe Contest. The grand prize winner will win a $250 gift card! Share your favorite original recipe that includes soy as an ingredient and enter at shortn.ly/0yAl
* Ready-made round spinach wrappers are also available. If using these, make sure to have a small bowl of water to dip your fingertip into, and trace the perimeter of the wrapper to moisten the edges before folding the pleats.