SHEIK - Pumpkin & Lotus Dumplings with Black Rice
In Ultimate, Sheik sports a new design based on the Sheikah Stealth Set from Breath of the Wild - so this was a great opportunity to make another recipe inspired by this game! To get some ideas, I looked to the ingredients associated with the Sheikah tribe in Breath of the Wild: one particular Sheikah favorite is the Fortified Pumpkin, grown by farmer Olkin of Kakariko Village. This provided a great starting point for the recipe: I knew I wanted it to focus on kabocha squash, also known as Japanese pumpkin!
The Sheikah are very ninja-like, so I also pulled some inspiration from the history of real-life ninjas and their diets! One common military ration eaten by shinobi was hyorogan, a type of dumpling made of glutinous rice - it typically contained yam, lotus, and carrots, flavored with cinnamon and ginseng. Many of these ingredients are appropriate to Zelda lore, as both carrots and lotus are common in the Necluda region, where the Sheikah make their home! All of these factors came together to inspire me to make dumplings filled with a spiced pumpkin, carrot, yam, and lotus root filling. Dumplings are a perfect portable food that a stealthy Sheikah warrior such as Sheik could eat while laying low.
These dumplings are completely vegan, which further fits the ninja lifestyle: shinobi likely consumed a simple, light diet to keep their bodies limber and stealthy, and they usually avoided red meat or overly rich foods. Allegedly, ninjas also consumed dark-colored foods, due to a principle of ancient eastern medicine which states that eating black food keeps the body active. So, I decided to serve these dumplings with a side of black rice - which also happens to be known as "forbidden rice", befitting the stealthy and mysterious nature of the Sheikah tribe!
Buckwheat flour was another common ninja ingredient - it was a main component of suikatsugan, a type of "pill" that was said to quickly quench a warrior's thirst - so I decided to make the dumpling wrappers out of buckwheat flour. The buckwheat flour also makes for a pleasing grey-black color that further reflects the shadowy nature of the Sheikah tribe and their shinobi origins!
These dumplings are great either steamed or pan-fried. If you have a steamer, try cooking them that way - if not, just fry them in shallow oil, potsticker style!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1 kabocha squash, peeled and diced
1 yam, peeled and diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 small lotus root, peeled and finely chopped
1 cup shredded cabbage
2 tbsp finely minced ginger
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
½ tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp butter
1 cup black rice
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you want it vegetarian)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place the cubes of squash, yam, and carrot on a tray. Toss in a little bit of neutral oil, and cook in preheated oven until softened, at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the dumpling wrappers:
For dumpling wrappers:
Combine flours, salt, and warm water in a medium sized bowl. Mix until a loose ball of dough is formed.
Move to a lightly floured surface and begin kneading until the ball becomes smooth, about 2-3 minutes. Add more flour or water if the dough is to wet or dry respectively.
Create the wrappers one by one: take a small tablespoon-sized chunk of dough and roll into a ball. Flatten the ball into a disc. Using a rolling pin, roll this disc out into an approximately 3-inch circle, as thin as you can (ideally 1-2 millimeters thick).
Dust each wrapper with flour and stack on a plate as you roll each one out. Set aside.
For dumpling filling:
Heat 2 tablespoons of neutral oil in a medium frying pan. Cook shredded cabbage over medium heat until soft and translucent.
Add the white part of the scallions, minced ginger, and chopped lotus root in with the cabbage. Cook for about 5 more minutes, taking care not to burn the ginger.
Add squash, yam, and carrot cubes to a medium bowl and mash with a fork (its okay if there are some small chunks). Add cabbage, lotus, onion, and ginger, as well as soy sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and cinnamon. Mix until well incorporated.
Scoop a tablespoonful of filling into a dumpling wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half, pinching it together where the edges meet at the top to enclose the filling inside.
Crimp the edge into a nice pattern using your preferred method or style of pleat. They don't need to look perfect, just make sure they're sealed!
Steam dumplings in a bamboo steamer for 8-10 minutes. Or, fry in shallow oil until nicely browned.
For black rice:
Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in black rice and cook until lightly toasted, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add broth and bring to a boil.
Once a boiling, reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes.
Serve dumplings with black rice, garnished with the green part of the scallions and sesame seeds. Serve with soy sauce and sesame oil for dipping.