Momo dumplings with spicy sesame sauce & cabbage slaw
Makes 30 dumplings
This is three recipes in one, because I’m not sure how to divide up all these up for now but they are essential together for fully satisfying steamed dumpling meal.
And yes, momos like any dumpling are project. For the love of dumplings, set aside some time and make some.
Momos are the dumplings of Tibetan and Nepalese cuisine; as one can imagine there are infinite variations on the fillings, and very often the veggie version seen in many restaurants tends to be on the bland or watery side. These homemade gems reflect the flavorful filling from my favorite hole-in-the-wall Tibetan establishment, which opts for dark leafy greens in favor of pale cabbage. I’ve added frozen, drained extra firm tofu which adds wonderful heartiness to the filling richly scented with the classic combination of turmeric, fenugreek and sauteed red onions. You could make these momos with purchased large round gyoza wrappers, but the homemade dumpling dough creates hearty, memorable dumplings worth the extra effort.
Serve these momos with the tangy sambal chile sesame sauce and the simple, refreshing marinated cabbage slaw. Leftover steamed momos can be gently pan fried to crisp the edges.
Tip: To finely chop collard greens or kale, remove thick stems, stack a few leaves and roll into tight bundles. Slice into ribbons as thin as possible, then chop the still-rolled ribbons several times.
- One recipe Basic dumpling dough, allowed to rest at least 30 minutes before using
- 1 pound extra firm tofu, still in the package
- 2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds
- 2 teaspoons coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1-2 small green chiles, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon minced ginger
- 1 1/2 cups finely minced red onion
- 2 cups firmly packed, finely chopped Chinese broccoli, collard greens, or kale
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- Lettuce leaves to line the steamer basket
1. The night before preparing the dumpling filling, freeze the entire package of tofu for at least 8 hours or until frozen solid. Then remove the package to thaw, either by letting it thaw in the refrigerator for 6-8 hours or by soaking the package in a bowl of hot water for an hour or more until completely thawed. Remove tofu from package, drain and gently squeeze to remove some of the excess moister. Place tofu in a colander over the sink or a bowl to drain while preparing the dumpling dough or chopping the rest of the filling ingredients.
2. To prepare the filling, toast the fenugreek, coriander and cumin seeds in 12 inch wide, deep skillet over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Pour seeds into a spice grinder, add turmeric and grind to a fine powder. Over medium heat in the skillet fry the chiles, garlic and ginger in the vegetable oil for 2 minutes, then stir in the diced red onion. Cook this mixture, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and turning golden, about 8-10 minutes. Crumble in the tofu and sprinkle in the ground spices and salt. Continue to fry for 3-4 minutes; if the tofu starts to stick sprinkle in 2-3 tablespoons of water. Stir in chopped greens and stir every now and then until the greens are tender. Stir in cilantro and turn off heat; taste the filling and stir in more salt if desired.
3. Set aside the filling to cool. Prepare your steaming set up, be it a bamboo steamer or electric steamer or just a trivet positioned above boiling water; the most important thing is that the dumplings never touch the water while steaming. Line your steaming baskets with lettuce or cabbage leaves.
4. To prepare the dumpling wrappers, divide the dumpling dough and keep the unused portion wrapped in plastic wrap until ready to use. On a generously floured surface, roll and shape the dough into a thick rope about 15 inches long. Use a ruler to mark and slice off pieces about 1 inch thick and keep the pieces covered with plastic wrap or a damp, clean kitchen towel. Use a rolling pin to roll out each piece into a circle at least 3 inches wide; keep your work surface well dusted with flour and flip the dumpling wrapper frequently to prevent sticking and insure an evenly round circle. To shape a dumpling, scoop a heaping, rounded 1 tablespoon of filling into the center and cradle the soon-to-be-momo in one hand. With your other hand take a generous pinch of dough from the edge of the circle and pull it away from the center; do it again right next to your first pinch, then pinch the two points together bending the dough toward the filling. Repeat this grab, pinch, and bend technique, taking care to pinch all of the ends together to form a big fat point. Work around the entire circle this way until you have something that resembles a little pleated, peaked pouch of dough. Grab and pinch any ungathered ends of the dough and give the whole thing a firm pinch and a twist to seal the top of the momo. Don’t sweat it if your momo are not completely perfect; steaming will help firm the dough and keep the filling in place. Repeat with remaining portion of dough to shape another 15 momos for a total of 30.
5. Place assembled momos on top of lettuce leaves, leaving at least 1/2 inch apart as they will expand during steaming. Steam each batch for 10 minutes and take care moving freshly steamed momos as they are somewhat delicate. For best results steam freshly assembled momos as soon as possible, working in small batches of rolling, filling, assembling and steaming. Serve hot momos with Sesame Tomato Chile Sauce and Cabbage Cilantro Salad.
6. To fry leftover momos, gently saute with a little vegetable oil over medium heat in a wok or cast iron skillet until edges are crisped and browned and the filling inside is hot.
Sesame tomato chile sauce
Makes about 1 heaping cup
Spicy, tangy, and full of sesame flavor. Go ahead and adjust the red chile to your level heat tolerance, you baddass.
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 3-5 teaspoons red chile flakes
- 1/3 cup sesame seeds
- 2 plum tomatoes, core and seeds removed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1. Toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and red chile flakes over medium heat in a skillet until fragrant, about 1 1/2 minutes. Pour spices into a spice grinder or coffee mill and pulse until powdered. Then toast the sesame seeds, stirring frequently to toast, about 2 minutes. Turn off heat and pulse sesame seeds, toasted spices and chile flakes, and all of the remaining ingredients and pulse until smooth, scrapping sides of food processor frequently. Taste and adjust seasoning with more salt or vinegar as desired. Store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container.
Cool cabbage cilantro slaw
Makes about 4 cups of slaw
Cool, crisp cabbage salad is universally appealing and makes a refreshing side paired with spicy cuisine. It’s cheap, simple and fast enough to make with dumplings are steaming or a stew is simmering.
- 1 small head green or red cabbage or Savoy cabbage (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 large carrot, grated (optional)
1. Remove core from cabbage and slice into quarters. Slice each quarter into thin ribbons about 1/4 inch wide. In a large mixing bowl whisk together vinegar, sugar, and salt until sugar is dissolved. Add cabbage and toss the ribbons into the dressing; I find it easiest to use my hands to really massage the vinegar into the cabbage. Once the cabbage feels a little softened, toss in the cilantro and carrot if using. Serve immediately, or store in a tightly covered container in the fridge. The cabbage will develop in flavor and soften over the next 2 days.