The ABC's of Cooking with Lynn Fredericks
author of Cooking Time Is Family Time

D  is for Dumpling
Shrimp with Lotus Root Dumplings

Yield: 4 servings as a main course, 6 as a first course

Countless parents have told me that shrimp was the only fish or seafood their child would eat. Therefore, I've included a number of different ways to use shrimp. This recipe really appeals to kids when they taste it because there is a delicate sweetness imparted by the shrimp and mirin, a sweet Japanese cooking wine made from glutinous rice. Mirin is available in Japanese markets and the gourmet section of many supermarkets. Much sweeter than sake, it is a wonderful flavor harmonizer when used in small quantities as in this recipe.

To make the filling:

  • 1/2 medium-sized lotus root, approximately 8 inches
  • 1/2 pound medium shrimp
  • 2 scallions
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons mirin (Japanese cooking wine) to taste or substitute white
  • wine with a teaspoon of sugar added

To fill the dumplings:

  • 1 package wonton wrappers cornmeal

To make the dough with the food processor:

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, unpeeled
  • 1 scallion
Equipment: Bamboo Steamer, blender or food processor

To make the dumpling filling:

1. Fill a medium sized pot two-thirds full with water and place over heat and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, older kids can peel the lotus root with a vegetable peeler while younger children help peel the shrimp. Transfer the peeled lotus root to the boiling water and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

2. When shrimp are peeled, prepare a bamboo steamer for cooking, including oiling each cooking chamber. Steam the shrimp until pink and no longer translucent, about five minutes. Adults should remove them from steaming chambers with tongs onto a cutting board. When cooled, let older children chop the shrimp. Be sure to supervise, always making certain kids curl in their fingertips! Transfer the chopped shrimp to a medium mixing bowl.

3. When the lotus root is cooked, drain it in a colander and cool. Older children can help slice the lotus root into one-half inch thick slices. Place the slices in a blender or food processor. Let children take turns pressing buttons to grate for five second intervals, about five times, scraping down the sides with a spatula after each interval until the lotus root is evenly grated.

4. Let small children help slice the scallion with a table knife. Place the sliced scallions into the bowl with the shrimp.

4. Place the thin rolled dough on the sheet pan, cutting it if you need to make it fit. Have children sprinkle a bit of flour over the dough, and cover it with plastic. Continue with the remaining dough.

5. With a wooden spoon, let older children add the lotus root to the shrimp and scallions and mix well. Now you are ready to season. Have kids add salt, pinch by pinch to the bowl, tasting after each pinch so as not to add too much. Next let them measure 1 teaspoon of mirin and add it to the bowl and mix well. Taste again. Add more mirin, a teaspoon at a time, until the flavor is balanced: slightly sweet and not too salty. The filling is ready to be placed in dumpling dough and steamed.

To fill and cook the dumplings:

1. If possible, purchase round wonton wrappers. Unwrap the wonton wrappers and remove about eight sheets. Cover the remaining squares with a cloth and reserve. Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal and set aside. Using a spoon, place just enough filling into the center of one wrapper, leaving a 1-inch margin along the edges. Place the wrapper with filling in the palm of your left hand (if left-handed, place in your right palm) and using you right hand, bring the sides of the dough up around the filling and gently twist.

2. Place the dumplings into the steamer chambers and steam about 5-7 minutes until cooked thoroughly. Serve the dumplings hot with dipping sauce on the side and use chopsticks to add to the fun.

To make the dipping sauce:

1. In a small shallow dish, combine soy sauce and sugar.

2. Grate the piece of ginger finely and add to the soy mixture.

3. Slice the scallion thinly, and add to the soy mixture. Taste to check seasoning, adding more soy sauce or sugar to balance flavor.

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