When I came to Germany fifteen years ago, european food was a big challenge for me and my stomach. The thick cream sauce, those strong smelly cheeses, the always too large pieces of meat … Rarely I could find something in the university canteen, which was tasty for me.
One of the few dishes that I have quickly accepted from the beginning, were the German potato dumplings (Kartoffelknoedel). I could just eat a lot of them purely without any sauces or accessories. Now I know why. In my Chinese hometown there is a kind of dumpling, which has a very similar consistency like the German potato dumpling. However, it is not made from potatoes, but from rice (what else?). 😉
The rice dumplings in China are usually a sweet dish, filled with delicious sweet black sesame paste. These sweet dumplings are mostly served on the last day of the 15 days of Chinese New Year’s celebration. Because they are a symbol of a happy get-together for the whole family. The name of these dumplings is tang yuan, by the way, in case if you want to challenge your potential for Chinese learning. 😉
The rice that is used for these dumplings is not the well-known jasmine rice, but the relatively unknown sticky rice. The sticky rice has much more starch than regular rice. Therefore, this rice has a nice sticky consistency. The sticky rice is a popular ingredient for desserts in East and Southeast Asia. Whether it’s Japan, Korea or Thailand, Vietnam, everywhere you can see very similar desserts that are made from glutinous rice.
At my home in China, we also ate these sweet rice dumplings during each New Year’s festival. However, we have a specialty in Sichuan, which is also made of glutinous rice, yet filled with a savory filling. And its cooking method differs also from the sweet dumplings. Namely it is steamed in the steam baskets, while its sweet colleagues are always cooked in boiling water, like the Germany potato dumplings.
My version of tang yuan looks like this: A hearty filling is a must, they should have an Italian touch, they should be steamed since this keeps their form look nicely and they need also to match the autumnal season. It was very quickly clear for me that I wanted to fill my rice dumplings with my favorite shiitake pesto.
It turned out to be a great side dish which goes well with meat or vegetables. Either, way it can simply be enjoyed as a main dish with a lot of additional mushroom pesto as a dip. Absolutely delicious … 😀
Ingredients (4 servings):
For the dumplings:
200g glutinous rice flour (Asia Shop)
170ml cold water
1 pinch of salt
For the filling:
3 tsp homemade shiitake pesto
10g freshly grated Parmesan
10g freshly grated Pecorino
3 tsp breadcrumbs
Freshly grated Parmesan
- Mix the flour with water and knead to a smooth dough. Shape the dough into a long roll and cut into 15 pieces. Take a piece of dough and form it into a round sheet.
- Mix the ingredients for the filling. Add a little bit of mushroom filling on the dough sheet. Close the dough sheet carefully. Form it into a ball with moistened hands. Repeat this until all the dough pieces are crafted into dumplings.
- Add water into a wok. Place a steaming basket with the lid on top of the wok. Boil the water. Then add the dumplings into the steaming basket, steam over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Garnish with pesto and Parmesan. Serve immediately.