Photo by by Annaliese Bischoff
Provenance of Dish
Inspired by a wonderfully layered Afghan lamb dish (known as aushak) I am offering more of a Hungarian spin with this mushroom dish. And with two options: one with a small amount of meat (my personal preference) and the other, totally vegetarian. I first made Katie Morford’s original lamb recipe in 2011 after it won a weekly dumpling contest on the website Food52. My version introduces different ingredients and steps. Both take advantage of convenient, commercial wonton wrappers, which are great when you do not have time to make dumpling dough from scratch. This recipe is for a small batch, but I repeat it often.
For the yogurt sauce:
½ cup plain,thick Greek whole milk yogurt
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Pinch of Maldon salt flakes
For the mushroom red sauce:
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 cup of shiitake caps, finely chopped (stems can be used in another recipe)
1 cup of cremini mushrooms, bottom of the stems snipped off (and discarded…I use in making a base for broth sometimes), finely chopped
Up to 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided (to taste)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes, optional
2 oz. dry white wine
5 oz. ground lamb or beef (leave out for the vegetarian option)
¾ cup tomato sauce
For the green-filled dumplings:
1 cup of fresh spinach, chopped
¾ cup of chopped scallions (bulbs and leaves)
10-12 square wonton wrappers
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon of chopped scallion greens
1 tablespoon of chopped cilantro leaves
To make ahead, stir together the yogurt with the extra virgin olive oil and add a pinch of Maldon salt flakes. Set aside.
For the ra-gou-lash: You can make this ahead if you like and reheat later. In a large heavy skillet, in about 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, sauté the chopped shallot over medium heat until tender and translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until cooked through. They will reduce in volume. Then add about 1 teaspoon of the salt, the paprika, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, and optional Aleppo pepper. Quickly add the wine and stir until it evaporates. Cook for a minute or two. Add the ground meat, if you are making the non-vegetarian version and stir until cooked through. Then pour in the tomato sauce. Simmer slowly for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust your seasoning. Keep warm.
While the red sauce mixture stays warm, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat; pile in the spinach and the ¾ cup of scallions with ½ teaspoon of the salt. This reduces greatly in volume. Turn heat to low and sauté until tender, 5-7 minutes. You’ll need about 1/2 cup for the filling. Set aside.
To assemble the dumplings, first get a small bowl of water and the stack of wontons. For the first one, set a square wonton wrapper on your work surface. Then spoon one teaspoon of green filling in the center. With a wet finger moisten all four edges of the wrapper. Then fold in half diagonally to make a triangle. Use your fingertip or the back of a spoon to press the moistened edges of the triangle together to seal tightly. If you do not seal these well, the filling will escape during boiling. Continue and make 9 or 11 more dumplings, until the green filling runs out. (I leave the dumplings as triangles with no further fancy folds, as some recipes suggest).
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the vinegar and whirl around the water. Immerse the triangles in the boiling water to cook, about 4 minutes.
Scoop out the cooked dumplings with a slotted spoon, and serve 5-6 dumplings per plate. Ladle the red mushroom sauce on top and then a dollop of the yogurt. Garnish with fresh chopped scallions and cilantro. Serve immediately.