At her dumpling shop, BaoBao, in Portland, Maine, Cara Stadler turns out creative versions, like this delicate seasonal dumpling with squash mixed into a filling of spiced pork, ginger, and scallion. You can make the filling, assemble the dumplings, and store them in the refrigerator up to three days before cooking them.
Featured in: A New England Thanksgiving with a Chinese Twist
For the Spice Mix
- 2 tbsp. small dried shrimp
- 3⁄4 tsp. whole coriander seeds
- 3⁄4 tsp. red Sichuan peppercorns
- 1⁄2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
- 1⁄4 tsp. whole cloves
- 4 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed
- 2 1⁄2 whole star anise
- 2 black cardamom pods, crushed
- 1 1⁄2 bay leaves
- 1 stick cinnamon, broken
For the Dumplings
- 2 lb. sunshine or kabocha squash (about 1/2 large squash), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (1 1/2 lbs. flesh)
- 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 12 oz. ground pork
- 3 tbsp. minced ginger
- 3 tbsp. shaoxing cooking wine
- 3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 tbsp. double soy sauce
- 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil, plus more for drizzling
- 3 scallions, finely chopped, plus more, thinly sliced, to garnish
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 4 dozen wonton wrappers
- Black vinegar, for serving
Make the spice mix: In a large skillet, combine the dried shrimp with the coriander, both peppercorns, cloves, chiles, star anise, cardamom pods and seeds, bay leaves, and cinnamon. Place the skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring, until the spices are toasted and fragrant, 2 minutes. Working in batches, transfer the spices to a spice grinder and process into a fine powder. Transfer the spice mix to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Make the dumplings: Heat the oven to 350°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the squash with the vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon of the ten-spice mix and bake, tossing halfway through cooking, until lightly caramelized and soft, about 35 minutes. Transfer the squash to a large bowl and mash until smooth. Stir in 1 tablespoon ten-spice mix along with the ground pork, ginger, wine, both soy sauces, sesame oil, finely chopped scallions, and the egg white until evenly combined. Place 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of a wonton wrapper and, using your fingers, moisten the edges of the wrapper with water. Fold the wrapper along the diagonal and press to seal the edges. Transfer the dumpling to a parchment paper—lined baking sheet and repeat with the remaining filling and wonton wrappers.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the dumplings in batches until they float to the surface and are cooked through, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, lift the dumplings from the water and set over a towel to drain briefly. Transfer the dumplings to a serving platter, drizzle with more sesame oil and thinly sliced scallions, and serve with black vinegar.