I’m constantly amazed when I’ve traveled and eaten out at trendy restaurants and notice when an ethnic cuisine is hijacked by talented chefs and adapted to a region. Take ravioli, for instance. It’s been around long enough and has become part of the mainstream so that regional chefs have adapted it by stuffing it with regional ingredients.
Tacos are another. It’s gone beyond Mex-Mex and Tex-Mex to Korean- and even Vietnamese-inspired versions in California.
And now that Chinese dumplings and wontons have become so mainstream America, it’s ripe for a regional hijacking as well. Chinese dumplings are traditionally stuffed with chicken and chives, pork and chives, or pork and shrimp. But since we’re in Oregon and salmon is so plentiful, here’s an Oregon-tinged dumpling stuffed with salmon and shrimp.
A piece of salmon is removed of the skin and then sliced into pieces and run through a food processor with peeled and de-veined shrimp. The shrimp acts as a binder to the salmon so that you don’t need to use any egg in the stuffing mixture.
Most of the time you’ll find wonton or dumpling soup served in Chinese restaurants with some bok choy or Chinese cabbage. Here, I’m using an ingredient that has found its way into Asian grocery stores from Mexico: the chayote or pear squash. You can find them in Salem at Winco stores, too. When boiled, it has a sweet, al dente texture with very mild flavor.
The chayote is used in both raw and cooked forms. When cooked, chayote is usually handled like summer squash: it is generally lightly cooked to retain the crisp flavor. Raw chayote may be added to salads or salsas, and it is often marinated with lemon or lime juice. Whether raw or cooked, chayote is a good source of amino acids and vitamin C. When using, you should peel the chayote, then cut it in half and remove the pulpy seed in the center, then slice the remainder into medium pieces.
So this entire meal of a simple soup is not only easy to make, it’s healthy as well. When making dumplings, I always use the round wonton wrappers instead of square ones because I like the shapes of the finished product better. And I usually make enough at a time that I can freeze what I’m not going to use immediately after I’ve stuffed and shaped the dumplings. When frozen, the dumplings will keep for months as long as you use a freezer bag, and they’re handy whenever you want to boil some for a quick lunch or add chicken broth and make a simple dumpling soup for dinner when you’re pressed for time.
Salmon and shrimp dumpling soup with chayote
- ½ pound (227 gr.) salmon, skin removed and sliced into pieces
- ½ pound (227 gr.) large shrimp, shelled, de-veined and sliced into pieces
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon (5 ml.) ground black pepper
- 1 package round wonton/dumpling wrappers, sold in packages in refrigerated section of Asian stores or most grocery stores
- 1 egg, beaten for egg wash
- 1 chayote, peeled, seeded and sliced into medium pieces
- Combine salmon, shrimp, fish sauce, garlic powder, and black pepper in a food processor and process until all of the shrimp and fish have been finely chopped and begin to cling together into a pasty ball; empty into bowl.
- Using a teaspoon, scoop mixture and place in center of dumpling wrapper.
- Using a brush, apply some of the egg wash to half of the circular edge of the dumpling wrapper.
- Fold dumpling wrapper over the stuffing and make a half-circle and squeeze air out, squeezing the edges of the wrapper together to seal.
- Begin at one end of the semi-circle and make pleat-like folds along the edge of the wrapper to give the dumpling shape and to seal the edges.
- Place finished dumpling on wax paper on cookie sheet and keep making dumplings until you’ve used all of the stuffing mixture. This should be enough to make anywhere from 30-40 pieces, depending on how much stuffing you use for each one. If you want to freeze for later use, place the dumplings that are on the cookie sheet in a freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, bag them in a Ziploc plastic freezer bag.
- To make soup, bring 2 cans of chicken broth to a slow boil.
- Add chayote and dumplings.
- Stir occasionally and cook for about 5 minutes. Dumplings will float when done.
- Serve immediately.