Sunday, December 4, 2011

Easy Appie: Red Curry Shrimp Dumplings

This post is short on words, long on photos - please forgive.  I'm having a bit of a Sophie's Choice moment as far as editing goes, so they all stay!  I've just come off a 50 hour work week, and I'm back at it bright and early tomorrow morning, so please forgive any grammatical misdoings, okay?  And you're probably thinking to yourselves, so what's her excuse the other times she puts the apostrophe in the wrong place?  Good question friends, good question.

So it's rather late on a Sunday night, and while I should be getting my beauty sleep, gearing up for a week of being up to my eyeballs in turkey and stuffing and all things gravy, I knew I couldn't rest until I told you about these dumplings.  I made them last Sunday (yes I've been holding out on you!) and I've been thinking about them all week.  Dumplings are one of my favourite go-out-and-eat foods, especially at Dim Sum.  Yes, I love me a good dumpling times a million.  This recipe in Everyday Food caught my eye a couple of months back and I thought hey, how awesome would these be as appetizers around the holidays?  Super awesome, that's what.

I know, you're busy, and probably thinking who has time to make dumplings?  But for serious, these aren't too difficult at all.  Heck I'd consumed a few Earl Grey martinis the night before, thus not functioning at full culinary capacity and I pulled the wontons off within 40 minutes.  Non-martini imbibing, I'm guessing 30 min.  There are still wonton wrappers in the fridge, so I'll test that theory later this month, when I have, you know, time.

And I know, it's super easy to pop into some places that specialize in frozen food and get yourselves some dumplings.  Not to name any names, but it sounds like N&N.  Or you could dive into the freezer section of any large supermarket and get your dumplings there.  It's easy, I get that, and right now you have to choose your battles when it comes to Christmas prep.  (In my house the war is being lost on housework.  If you come over, promise not to look too closely at the levels of dust, okay?  And really, isn't that what January is for?)  But do me a favour, if you pick up anything that comes in a box, look at the list of ingredients.  Sometimes it takes a chemistry degree to figure out what the hell some of the ingredients are.  And I don't know about you, but that scares the crap out of me.

Red curry paste is a must in my kitchen.  A smooth, moist blend of lemongrass, red chiles, garlic, shallots, kaffir lime leaves and the gingerlike galangal, red curry paste goes fantastically well with shrimp, chicken, fish and beef.  Don't forget to combine it with coconut milk for an out-of-this-world curry.  A little goes a long way, and some brands will be spicier than others.  The original recipe called for 4 tsp of red curry paste, and I'm not sure if the recipe testers had stomachs lined with iron, but holy moly, 1 tsp is plenty hot.  Not burn your face off hot, but oooh, this has a nice heat hot.  Find red curry paste in the Asian section of the supermarket, or head to your Chinatown and do some exploring.

The best thing about making your own dumplings is that you know what is going in them.  Use good-looking shrimp.  I found some large 21-24 size organic white, and they were amazing.  (The number on the package means the amount of shrimp per pound.)  Using a food processor, grind up the shrimp into a paste, add the red curry, some fish sauce (found in the Asian section of your supermarket), green onion and ginger.  Easy filling, right?  While it may take a bit of hunt to find wonton wrappers, any Asian supermarket will have them, and check the refrigeration section in the produce department of the local Safeway/Superstore too.  A little filling in the middle, then fold the corners together, pinch to close tightly and that's it.  I pan-fried mine for a minute, then poured in a little water to steam, cover with a lid and in 3 minutes your dumplings are cooked!  Served with a side dipping sauce, these make an awesome little snack.  I made a batch of about 28.  Froze half of them, and later in the week, when I came home from work ravenous, I heated some chicken broth in a pot, added the frozen dumplings, and some veg and all of a sudden there was wonton soup on my stove.

Looks like I've written more than I ever intended to tonight.  I blame the dumplings.  Once you make them, you'll know what I mean.  Now I better hit the Sealy and try to get a solid 7 hours of slumber.  It's another long work-week, friends.  Good thing I've got more dumplings in the freezer.  

Red Curry Shrimp Dumplings

2-3 tsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp minced peeled ginger (from a 2 inch piece)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined.  I used about 20 large shrimp.
1 tsp red curry paste
1 tsp fish sauce
24 wonton wrappers (you may use more if you have extra filling)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sriracha (or other chili/garlic sauce you like)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sugar

In a small skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil and over med high heat, cook the ginger and green onion just 2 minutes until fragrant.  Remove from heat.  In a food processor, grind up the shrimp until finely chopped.  Transfer to bowl and add the ginger mixture, as well as the fish sauce and curry paste. Stir to combine.
Working with one wonton wrapper at a time, place 1 heaping tsp of shrimp mixture in the middle.  With a wet finger (I keep a bowl of water handy) moisten the edges of the wrapper, then bring the 4 corners together, pinching to seal.  Cover filled dumplings with a clean towel as you work, so they don't dry out.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 or more tsp of vegetable oil over med high heat.  Add the dumplings seam side up and cook until golden on the bottom, about 1 min.  Carefully add 1/2 cup water to skillet and cover, cook until water almost evaporated, about 3 minutes.  Uncover and cook until all water evaporates, another minute.  Reduce heat to medium if they overbrown.  You may have to cook in batches, depending on the size of your pan. 
If planning on making these ahead, freeze them raw, then thaw before cooking.  If you want to put them in soup, throw them in while frozen, and they cook up in no time.  Just look for the pink!
Combine the soy sauce, sriracha, sugar, rice vinegar in a small bowl. Adjust seasonings.  Makes an excellent dipping sauce for the dumplings!  Adapted from Everyday Food, October 2011. 


  1. Gorgeous dumplings Renee! Love the photos, the colors look amazing. Have a good week - don't work too hard.

  2. Hang in there- you'll make it through the holiday season. Keep drinking those delicious sounding earl grey martinis for fortification. Such beautiful dumplings- I can't believe you can whip something like this up at the end of a long day. Very impressed over here!

  3. I love all things dumpling - can't wait to make these. Beautiful photos, as always.

  4. These look delicious! I have a weakness for sriracha...I completely agree about avoiding the additives in supermarket dumplings. I might make a double batch of these and save some in my freezer for nights when I don't have as much time!

  5. Will be trying these at the weekend, they look delicious. My question is whether you fry and steam them before freezing them or can you freeze them before cooking?

  6. Thanks Sara and Shelley - so far this week is going very well, I even have a day off tomorrow! Ruth and Emily, thank you so much! Anon, yes, freeze them raw, then thaw before frying and steaming. I put them into my soup raw/frozen and they cooked up in no time, like a few minutes in simmering broth. Good question!

  7. Wow, these look delicious and would make such great canapes over the festive season!
    Merry Christmas!

  8. I am from Saskatoon, and a lover of dim sum!
    I am currently living in Queenstown New Zealand and was told about you culinary blog (which I am addicted to). There are no dim sum places here so when I happened upon this recipe I was keen to try it! Everyone loved it, I was only going to eat a few for dinner, but ended up eating half the batch! Good thing I froze a few, I am looking forward to putting them in soup :)

  9. Mmmm, so simple! Can't wait to give the recipe a try :)

  10. Jilly Bean - so fabulous that you are reading my blog in New Zealand! Love that you made my dumplings, too :) I ate half the batch as well...addictive little things.
    Emma - thank you and Merry Christmas to you!
    PGF, they really are simple dumplings, and so darn tasty!

  11. Gosh, I am craving for a little chilli and dumplings now, so I'll bookmark this for later. Love your chilli decoration in the pics.

  12. These dumplings look fantastic! And just so pretty.

  13. I just found your blog, and I LOVE it. Your photography is amazing, your recipes look divine! I can't wait to try these (and many more!) out!


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