Tibetan Tuesday: Vegan Broth and Momos
Another recipe riffed off of Jackie Kearney’s ‘Vegan Street Food’, with a few alterations. This was my first attempt at the Tibetan dumpling staple, and, while there’s room for improvement, it didn’t come off too badly.
First, the ingredients I went with:
3 medium carrots
2 moderate tomatoes
4/5 bay leaves
A dozen or so peppercorns
2 tbsp sweet soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
Good handful cilantro
3 dried star anise sections
3 garlic cloves
(all vegetables roughly chopped – this is just broth, after all)
2 large potatoes
300g red cabbage
200g red bell pepper
hearty knob of ginger
1 spring onion
1 tsp hoisin sauce
~1/2 tsp salt and pepper each
2 healthy dashes of turmeric
The hardest part of trying out a new recipe, especially one with more than a few moving parts, is figuring out how to make the timing work and cut back on waste and mess. Initially, I had thought to steam the cabbage and potato using the broth as it boiled. Alas, the amounts just didn’t jive (a real shame, the cabbage and potato leached a really vibrant blue colour that would have been sweet for the broth), and so that was separated out into two pots. Kearney recommends 40 minutes for the broth to simmer, and I probably got there and more by the end of meal prep.
I put aside the creation of the dumpling dough until after I had the filling on the way, but I would probably switch the order next time. I used about 1 and 1/2 cups of plain flour with a sizeable pinch of salt, and somewhere north of a 1/2 cup water (at least so you know the ratios – more on that later). Kneading took about 10 minutes – a stiff dough is desired. The recipe originally says to set aside for 30 minutes, and I don’t think I left it quite that long.
Getting back to the filling for a moment – as I mentioned above, I steamed the potatoes and cabbage, each finely chopped, for 15 minutes. In the interim, I gave the ginger, pepper, and spring onion a chop themselves – the onion was on the rougher side, but the ginger in particular was minced. After taking my steamer off the pot, I (regrettably) emptied the indigo water and added a dash of sunflower oil, returning to the hob to heat. First went the ginger, followed shortly by the pepper. This was fried for about 5 minutes, enough time to render down. The potato/cabbage was added to this and mashed. This mix was poured into a moderate-sized aluminium bowl (the same I’d used to prepare my dough, rinsed) and the remaining ingredients were stirred in. Set aside to cool.
The recipe advises 16 “lime-sized balls” of dough, rolled out to a 3 mm width and sectioned with a 7.5 cm cookie cutter. I, erm, fudged that width part, and it came back to bite me. I suggest you follow it.
As I said earlier, I’ve told you the ratios I used for the dough, because you’re probably going to want to make more than I did – I only used about a third of the filling I ended up with, as you’re only meant to add a teaspoon to each dumpling.
Wet your fingers a bit to seal up the top, or lip, depending on the style you elect – moons or money bags. Have a small amount of oil heated and ready in a pan – I used sunflower again, but any high heat type will do, I’m sure – as you will want to fry the bottoms of the dumplings till golden brown, before transferring to the steamer. Having left my dough too thick, I wasn’t able to achieve the sought-after translucence within the recommended 7 – 10 minute steam-time, though they did cook through.
Don’t be like me.
Thin your dough.
Though the dumplings were thicker than necessarily optimal, the flavour was present. The broth was a success, as well – the anise really pushes through. The original recipe calls for half a fennel bulb, which, though I didn’t have it on hand, I wouldn’t mind trying out next time. Other things that were changed were celeriac for celery (it’s what I had), the absence of a broccoli stem in the broth and sherry in the filling (have port, no sherry – ill equipped larder, right here), and the addition of the bell pepper and turmeric.
It seems a shame to toss so many vegetables post-broth – I’m going to see if I can make something worthwhile from the remains, and certainly won’t hold it against you should you try the same.