Making dumplings from sauerkraut-making leftovers

Guess what? I’m going to talk about FOOD! No cats, no raccoons, no sewing, no infrared pictures, just food, like in a real food blog! (Actually, I think cats are considered a normal part of food blogs.) How many of you figured it would take me a week or two to get around to the food I’ve been promising in my last two posts? In all fairness, I wasn’t planning to make a post tonight, but I got part-way through making dinner and thought, “this would be a good post; I’ll have to remember to do one next time I do this.” But then I thought, well, why not do it THIS time? It’s really more a suggestion than a recipe though.

See, I was all hyped up from the Sandor Katz class and making a couple kinds of sauerkraut. (It’s a good thing Sandor convinced me I don’t need to weigh my salt because my scale is on the fritz, which is terrible because even if I don’t need it for sauerkraut, I NEED it for bread. ACK!) I don’t know about you, but when I make sauerkraut, or really any time I use my mandoline, I end up with a bunch of little nubbies – the ends of vegetables I can’t slice on the mandoline without slicing my fingers along with them. Because I was making cabbage-based sauerkraut/pickles, I thought it would be smart to use those leftover pieces in wontons or dumplings, which I’d been planning to make this week anyway, because Mark moved a package of wonton wrappers from the freezer to the refrigerator.

My Sandor-inspired sauerkrauts:

I don’t have pictures of the first couple of steps because, like I said, I didn’t think to turn it into a post until a little into the process. But what I did was take a scant cup (because that’s what I had) of TVP and reconstituted it with an even more scant cup of boiling “beef” broth (I used Better Than Bouillon) by placing them together in a bowl and covering with a plate for a few minutes.

Next, I took the scraps I had from making sauerkraut: both green and red cabbage, some carrots, and daikon – about 2 cups worth – and put them into a food processor/chopper along with a few cloves of garlic and some roughly chopped ginger and processed until of a minced consistency. I ended up with somewhere between a cup and a cup and a half of minced vegetables. I also chopped a couple of scallions and assembled some shaoxing wine (sherry is a good sub), soy sauce, and toasted sesame oil:

I heated some oil in a cast iron skillet, then added the contents of the food chopper (i.e. the veggies) and cooked them down just a little, then added the TVP and cooked it all for another 3 or 5 minutes. I tossed the scallions into the mixture, then I sprinkled it with some of each of the soy sauce, shaoxing wine, and (less of the) sesame oil. Just a bit, you don’t want it to be soggy or even all that wet; you just want to add some flavor.

This is the exact moment I decided to start documenting – I didn’t even do my neurotic cleaning-as-I-go before I snapped the picture: look at that mess! I’m moving it from the skillet to a bowl so it cools down faster.

A close-up:

Next I found my trusty wonton press:

To fill the wontons or dumplings, a rounded tablespoon measure is perfect …

… or a small cookie dough scoop is perhaps even more perfect:

Put a round wonton wrapper (watch the labels; these aren’t always vegan) onto the press:

Plop the veggie/TVP mixture into the middle, …

… brush a little water on the edges of the wrapper, and squeeze the handles together. Look, it’s the Easter bunny!

Voila, a perfect wonton! Or dumpling. Or whatever you want to call it. Tasty stuff in a wrapper.

Keep on truckin’ until you’ve gone through all your filling. Don’t worry about making too many; these things freeze beautifully. I made about 3 dozen.

You have your choice of cooking methods from here. You can steam them, or boil them for a couple of minutes, or add to soup, or bake them, or steam/pan-fry them as I did. I followed Bryanna’s pan-fried dumpling method in Authentic Chinese Cuisine. I’ll show you pictures without writing out her entire instructions because Bryanna is extremely generous with her recipes and you should buy her books, and this one in particular is great. Basically you just fry on one side for a bit …

… then add some water and steam for a few minutes.

Make a dipping sauce of your choosing; I always just mix up some soy sauce, black or rice vinegar (they’re quite different so aren’t interchangeable, but both are nice in their own right), a few drops of toasted sesame oil, chili-garlic sauce, and some chopped scallions. I also served the chili green beans from Authentic Chinese Cuisine:

(Gomez is in this picture. Sigh.)

Don’t cook any leftover wontons you have. Instead, arrange them in a single layer without touching on a tray and put in the freezer until solid (this only takes 15-20 minutes, which is good because unless you have a gigantic freezer, you’ll have to do it in pretty small batches), then plop them all into a freezer bag. When you want to make them, just start to so as if they were freshly-made – no need to thaw. I’m excited to have stored some of these because with baby wildlife season coming up, I’m going to be having some late nights when I come home starving and these are going to get devoured.

Next, to show you how serious I am about staying on topic, tonight’s bonus picture is NOT of cats, NOT about travel, NOT of raccoons, NOT related to crafts, NOT taken with an infrared filter, and is FOOD! I don’t know why, but when I chopped this cabbage in half this evening, I was struck by its beauty. I can’t decide if the core reminds me of a woman dancing, Ganesh, or the tree of life, but I was moved by it nonetheless. Moved enough to spend 45 minutes with a tripod trying to get what I saw to show up in a photograph. Not sure I succeeded, but this is me demonstrating to you that in addition to all the other things I celebrate in life, I celebrate food.


  1. Sarah Said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 1:17 am

    Oh my gosh this looks so good! I love the unexpected flavor from the sauerkraut! I havent cooked real food in months, but this inspires me to buy wonton wrappers and a wonton press. Adding this to my summer cooking list.

  2. Anna Said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 6:33 am

    I didn’t even know such things as wonton presses existed but in the 5 minutes since first reading this post I went and bought some on Ebay! I have wrappers in the freezer that have been waiting too long as it always seems so fiddly but with a press I can put my 8 year old son to work helping with them!

    Glad you’re back to blogging more, I always enjoy reading about what you’ve been making (and anything else you want to post about, it’s your blog after all, use it for what you will!)

  3. Zoa Said,

    April 4, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

    A woman dancing gets my vote! Mmm, this looks so good, and I always love your posts, no matter what they’re about. Bring on the raccoons!

  4. Josiane Said,

    April 5, 2012 @ 6:15 pm

    I’ve been treated to a real vegan feast that included homemade raviolis a little while ago, and though I’d been meaning for a while to try my hand at raviolis/wontons/dumplings one day, those had convinced me to move them up a few notches on the list of things I want to try. But then, I either had no good stuffing idea, or I could think of too many things I wanted to try to be able to choose… Your stuffing idea here solves both problems! I can make it as is if my mind goes blank the day I’m ready to make dumplings, or use it as a starting point if I need to narrow down the options!

    The first thing I saw in your cabbage was a candle. I totally see the woman dancing, too; actually, I see her as a Hindu goddess, dancing with her four sets of arms (which is quite possibly related to having Shiva Nata on my mind…). I love that you were moved in such a way by the beauty you saw in that cabbage.

  5. Jes Said,

    April 6, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

    Dumplins! Love ’em! Love your beautiful jars of kraut too.

  6. Sarah Said,

    April 22, 2012 @ 8:45 am

    Awesome way to use up the odds and sods! 🙂

  7. Jain Said,

    September 14, 2012 @ 9:20 am

    Hi, Renae. I don’t always drop what I’m doing to make your latest recipe… but they stick with me. I’d been looking for vegan wonton wraps for YEARS and finally found some. I remembered your post and came back to it for guidance with my first batch. (I managed to manually crimp them but will be ordering a press soon.) Once again, your directions were terrific and my dinner was fabulous. Thanks!

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