Thanksgiving is like the Super Bowl for passionate cooks. We save recipes all year, and begin creating our menu months in advance. And of course the classics and family favorites have to be there, but it’s a good opportunity to experiment with something new and exciting too. This year, I’m adding these Pumpkin Dumplings to the mix. They are an absolute cornucopia of Autumn flavors- they can be made ahead and the creamy filling is to die for. The addition of mozzarella cheese makes these really special.
Kabocha is alternately called Japanese Pumpkin or Kabocha squash. The flesh has the same vibrant orange color of pumpkin, but it is much easier to work with. The flesh is less watery, making it ideal to stuff wontons, plus the skin is edible (although I do remove it in this recipe)! And the taste is much sweeter. If you can’t find Kabocha, butternut squash makes a good substitute.
Set the Kabocha pumpkin aside to cool. While it’s cooling, prep the onions and brown the butter. Browning the butter adds a really rich, nutty taste to the filling for the pumpkin dumplings. Browned butter makes a fabulous simple sauce for raviolis, and is easy to make. Just keep an eye on it because it browns very quickly, and we don’t want it to burn.
Filling the Pumpkin Dumplings
I use a simple foldover to seal these dumplings, making it very quick and easy. Make sure to buy the mozzarella that is sold in a wrapped block, not the fresh kind that is submerged in water as the moisture will make the dumplings burst when frying.
At this point you can freeze the pumpkin dumplings. That way you can make them a couple weeks ahead of time, and just fry off right before serving.
Now all that is left to do is fry these babies! You can of course skip the garnish but it adds so much festive fall vibes, why would you want to? The smell of frying sage leaves will fill your whole house with Thanksgiving aromas.
Once the sage leaves stop bubbing (which means the liquid has been cooked off) they are ready. Set the sage leaves aside on some paper towels to drain, and make sure the oil reheats before adding the wontons. Fry them in batches of about 6-8 depending on the size of your skillet, being careful of the oil bubbling up. Since the filling is already cooked, you just need several minutes to get the skins a nice golden color.
When all the pumpkin dumplings are fried it’s time to get fancy and serve them on a platter, scattering the sage leaves on top and sprinkling with flaky salt.
Cant get enough dumplings in your life? Try these Mushroom Dumplings or Pork Gyoza. These Pumpkin Dumplings are going to be such a beautiful and tasty addition to your holiday menu, I can’t wait for you to try them. Please comment on the recipe below, and let us see your creations by tagging us @funkyasiankitchen, we love hearing from you!
- ½ kabocha pumpkin, about 1 ½ lb
- 4 ounces mozzarella cheese cut into small ¼ inch cubes
- ½ onion
- 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 3 cups neutral oil
- 1 package wonton skins
- 1 egg
- A handful of sage leaves
- Coarse salt (like maldon)
- Scoop out the seeds of the kabocha with a spoon. Cut the kabocha into thick wedges and set the pieces on a steamer insert or basket. Steam the kabocha on high heat for 25-30 minutes until tender. (Use a skewer or tip of a knife. Both should slide easily into the flesh.) Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- In the meantime, dice the onion very fine and set aside.
- Heat a pan over medium high heat for several minutes. Add the butter and let it melt and then bubble. Continue to cook the butter until the milk solids start to brown 1-2 minutes. Add the onion and lower heat to medium, stirring for 5-7 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent. Set aside.
- Remove the skin from the kabocha either using a pairing knife or a spoon. Discard or eat the skins.
- Put the kabocha into a bowl and then mash it. Add the browned onions, the salt, black pepper, nutmeg, and flour. Stir to combine.
- Crack the egg into a small bowl and add 1 Tablespoon of water. Whisk with a fork to combine.
- Take one wonton wrapper and brush the edge of half with the egg wash.
- Place 1 Tablespoon of filling in the center and add 1 piece of cheese. Seal the wrapper, pushing out any air bubbles. Set aside on a tray and continue filling and sealing the rest of the wontons until you have used up all of the filling. You will yield approximately 40 wontons.
- Heat the oil in a deep skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Test the oil by dipping the edge of a wonton into the oil. It should bubble around the edge. If not, continue heating the oil for several more minutes.
- Wash and dry the sage stems. Pick the sage leaves off of the stem and then fry them in the oil for 2-3 minutes. Drain them on a paper towel and set aside.Carefully place 6-8 pieces of wontons into the pan and fry for 3-4 minutes, turning them occasionally, until golden brown. Set aside to drain on paper towels and continue frying the rest of the wontons in batches.
- Sprinkle the wontons with some coarse salt and serve them garnished with the fried sage leaves.
*Do not use fresh mozzarella as the moisture in the cheese will cause the wrapper to burst. Instead use the block of firm mozzarella and cut into small cubes.
*Once you wash your sage leaves, dry them carefully with paper towels to eliminate all moisture before frying.
*The wontons can be made and then frozen uncooked. Freeze them on a baking sheet (make sure to leave space between the wontons so they do not freeze as one block) until they are frozen solid. Then bang the baking sheet on the counter to loosen them from the baking sheet and transfer to a storage bag. Cook them the same way, adding another minute or two to fully heat the center.
Keywords: kabocha, dumplings, thanksgiving appetizers, vegetarian, holiday recipes, pumpkin