Thanksgiving with Chinese twist: turkey & mushroom dumplings

Updated: 17 Nov 2012
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Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on us this year, didn’t it? It seemed like only yesterday that we were carving pumpkins and planning Halloween costumes. Now it’s time to prepare oneself for a massive turkey-centric feast.

Earlier this week, to get into the Thanksgiving mood, I decided to make a big batch of turkey and mushroom dumplings. And when I make dumplings, I like to make a good number. I use up an entire back of 50-or-so dumpling wrappers and a pound of meat.


While pork is often the default meat for Chinese dumplings, I find that turkey is a great option for somewhat lighter but still meaty dumplings. (They’re also great if you’re cooking for family or friends who don’t eat pork.) I also throw in a healthy amount of chopped shiitake mushrooms, which has a great umami-ness that pairs well with the flavor of the turkey.

You can serve these dumplings as a non-traditional Thanksgiving appetizer. Or if you’re trying to use up leftover turkey after Thanksgiving, substitute the ground turkey with an equal amount of juicy well-shredded dark turkey meat (which won’t dry up when you cook the dumplings like white turkey meat will.)

I ended up having these turkey dumplings for four consecutive meals. And I’m still looking forward to the big juicy bird for dinner next Thursday night. Which goes to show how much these dumplings, as non-traditional as they are, can get you in the mood for Thanksgiving.


Turkey and Mushroom Dumplings

Makes 40 to 50 dumplings

10 to 12 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 pound ground turkey (preferable not too lean), or finely shredded leftover cooked dark meat turkey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pack store-bought round dumpling wrappers
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in warm water for 15 to 20 minutes, until softened. Drain the shiitakes and squeeze out the excess water. Finely chop.

In a large bowl, mix together the chopped shittake mushrooms, turkey, soy sauce, and sesame oil. The turkey filling should be a bit moist but not too wet.

If you’re just starting out with dumpling folding, follow this step-by-step guide that shows a basic method with 3 pleats per dumpling. If you’d like to work your way up to 5 pleats, start in the middle and do 3 pleats towards the middle from one direction and and 2 pleats toward the middle from the other. (See these photos for reference.)

Pan-frying*: Have about 1/3 cup water, a large skillet, and a lid for the skillet handy. Heat the skillet with the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over high heat and swirl the oil around the pan. Wait about 1 minute for the oil to heat up. (You can also use a small piece of extra dumpling wrapper or piece of bread to test whether the pan is hot enough; it should sizzle immediately upon being placed in the pan.) Once the pan is hot, place the number of dumplings you want to cook smooth side down in the pan. Allow them to sear for about 1 minute, until the bottoms turn golden brown.

Add the water, cover immediately with a lid, and let the dumplings steam for another 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover the lid to allow any extra water to evaporate before turning off the heat. Loosen the dumplings with a spatula and transfer them to a plate. (Whatever you don’t cook can be frozen for later. Dumplings can be put on the pan frozen, no defrosting required. Just add one extra minute of steaming.)

Transfer to serving plates, and serve with alone or with soy sauce.

*Note: To boil the dumplings instead, bring a pot of water to boil. Add dumplings and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain well.




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