A number of people have asked me about gluten-free Asian dumplings, including Shauna of the popular Glutenfreegirl blog. It’s funny because when I planned the Asian Dumplings recipe collection, I designed it so that about half of the recipes were based on dough rendered from readily available all-purpose flour from the supermarket. My goal was to inspire people to use regular supermarket ingredients and some old-fashioned Asian know-how to make authentic dumplings. There are many rice-based dumpling recipes in Asian Dumplings, but the gluten-free and celiac disease queries got me thinking about how I could make more of my recipes accessible to people who are allergic to wheat gluten.
I headed to my health food market last week and scanned the flour aisle. Then I went to Whole Foods and did the same. What I discovered was Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour, made from a mixture of various kinds of bean flour and starches. With the addition of some xantham gum, a natural food additive that creates viscosity and flexibility in the dough, the dumpling wrappers functioned fine.
10 ounces (2 cups) Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Baking Flour*
2 teaspoons xantham gum *
3/4 cup just-boiled water (let the bubbles subside before using)
Read “Weigh Your Options, Use a Kitchen Scale” if you’re not weighing your flour!
* Available at many health food markets
Just like the Basic Dumpling Dough recipe on page 22 in Asian Dumplings, you can use the food processor to make the dough or do it by hand. I did it by hand, so I combined the flour and xantham gum in a bowl, made a well in the center, and then stirred in the hot water. There’s no elasticity and a beany smell emanated from the dough. I just kept kneading to work the dough together into a relatively smooth ball (it was not baby skin smooth). You may have to work the dough by hand if you use the processor to combine everything.
Regardless of method, put the dough into a zip-top bag and let it sit for 30 minutes to rest and soften. The dough can be refrigerated overnight and returned to room temperature before rolling out the wrappers, filling, and shaping. The yield was 1 pound.
Rolling out gluten-free dumpling wrappers
Because there’s no stretch in this dough, I couldn’t pull it around the filling as I would with dough made from all-purpose flour. Given that, instead of 32 wrappers, I formed 24 wrappers, making them each between 3 1/4 and 3 1/2 inches wide. Just like normal, I cut them into scallop-like shapes, flattened them into disks with a light coating of Bob’s flour, then pressed them with the tortilla press. Then I used the wooden dowel rolling pin to roll out each wrapper, with a little belly in the center. I rolled the wrappers in 4 batches and covered them with a dish towel to prevent drying. See the how-to video on rolling out Asian dumpling wrappers if you need assistance.
I put a generous 1 tablespoon of the pork and napa cabbage water dumpling filling (page 31) in the center and close up the wrapper into a half moon, sealing well. No water was needed as the wrapper was plenty moist. I set each dumpling on its fold and scrunched up the edge or made tiny pleats in the center to create pea pods. The goal was to get the dumpling to sit up. Other dumpling shapes that had big pleats made the dough too thick so I stuck with the half moon.
Cooking the gluten-free dumplings
I tried boiling and pan-frying the dumplings. The pan-frying – done Korean style where 2 of the 3 sides are browned – proved much tastier as the nuttiness of the bean-based gluten-free flour was highlighted. Just follow the cooking instructions on page 46 for Korean meat and vegetable dumplings (gun mandu).
The resulting gluten-free pot stickers had an earthy, hearty quality that hit the spot on these cold days of winter. We enjoyed them with a dipping sauce of Chinkiang vinegar, ginger, chile oil and soy sauce.
I wouldn’t say that these gluten-free dumpling wrappers were an equal substitute for the regular wrappers – but rather just a different kind of wrapper. Asian dumplings employ many kinds of carbohydrates in the wrappers so I considered this one just another kind of wrapper. They are at their best when pan-fried into gluten-free pot stickers. Try it out and let me know your thoughts. I didn’t steam them but maybe you will?
One more thing . . . When making gluten-free Asian food, do check the label of condiments such as soy sauce to make sure that it doesn’t contain wheat. Tamari is often wheat-free in the US.
If you are sensitive to gluten, jump over to Vietworldkitchen.com for a post on gluten-free Asian ingredients.