Sometimes the best recipes come from being creative with leftovers. This recipe is one of those ‘let’s see what I can make with what I have left from last week’ meals. I had some crayfish, chives and crab sticks left from an appetizer I made and I still had some frozen dumpling sheets in my freezer from a little while ago and had bought tomatoes and fennel without really knowing what I was going to make. So I went into my kitchen and experimented with some sauces I always have on stock to come up with a tasty dumpling filling and I stumbled upon a fennel and tomato recipe by Martha Stewart that I tweaked only a little bit to turn it into a dip for the dumplings. Up until today I had always steamed any dumplings I made, but I felt like this recipe really called for a crispy dumpling so for the first time I ever, I tried my luck at pan frying them and the result was absolutely perfect, if I do say so myself. I haven’t had a chance to make this as an appetizer for a party yet but I’m very much looking forward to presenting this to my friends! Also, if you have any dip left after all the dumplings are eaten, you can simply use it as a pasta sauce. You can either use it as a light sauce with some fresh fish and tagliatelle, or add a bit of sour cream and use it as a thicker sauce to go on some stuffed pasta.
Makes: 25 dumplings
- 1/2 fennel bulb
- 450g tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 60ml white wine
- 5 sprigs of thyme
- 150ml water
- 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon of fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon of sweet chili sauce
- 3,5 tablespoons of chives
- 125g crayfish
- 4 crab sticks
- 200g dumpling wrappers
Preheat your oven at 200°C. Wash the tomatoes and chop them up in slices. Remove the core (cut a triangle out of the bottom ) from the fennel bulb and any stalks that might still be there and slice the fennel up in pieces. Remove the thyme from the sprigs simply by running your hands along the twig. Fill up a baking dish with the tomatoes, fennel, thyme, white wine and olive oil and stir really well, you want the wine & olive oil to be all over the tomatoes and fennel. Put this in the oven for 35-40 minutes but take it out halfway through the process to toss it all once more and then pop it back in the oven.
While the dip is in the oven, you can start on those dumplings! All you have to do for the filling is chop the crayfish and crab sticks up in really small pieces, this will make it a lot easier to fill the dumplings up. Spoon in the soy sauce, fish sauce, chili sauce and chives and mix it all together with a fork or a spoon. Set aside and lay out your dumpling wrappers.
Add some flour to your working surface. By using flour, you’ll get that crispy dough on the bottom when we fry them. Take a dumpling wrapper and put some of the filling in the middle. Don’t put too much in it cause you still have to be able to close it up. I put about 1 tablespoon of the filling in each dumpling. Now you can either use some water to dab on the edges to help close the dumplings up, but you can also just use a bit of the sauce we used for the filling to do this. I noticed that at the bottom of my filling bowl there was some sauce left so I simply used that. Now close the dumplings up. I always start by pulling up the top and bottom and pushing and slightly twisting it on the sides and then continue to do so along the edges of the dumpling. Make sure you press the edges together as best as you can so that they can’t open up when we fry them.
Heat up a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan and place the dumplings in it. Make sure there’s a bit of space between them so that they don’t touch each other. Now fry the dumplings for only a minute or two, take them off the heat and then add a couple of tablespoons of water until you have covered the whole bottom of the pan with a thin layer of water. Put the lid on the pan and put it back on a medium heat and steam/fry them until the water has evaporated and the bottom is crispy & golden brown.
Once your dip is ready, take it out of the oven and put it in a blender along with 150ml of water. My blender isn’t all that good so I ended up with a thick sauce, but don’t worry if that happens to you as well, cause you can make it thinner if you want. To do so, I passed it through a sieve and then mixed the liquid that came out of it along with a couple of tablespoons of the mash in the sieve. I gradually added more mash until I had used about 3/4th of it. By using this method, your dip will be thinner and clearer but you’ll still have all the flavors that we want because we re-used the mash. If you were to only use what came out of the sieve, the sauce would be too light and would lack flavor.