These Money Bag Dumplings are a feast for the eyes and palate. They are made gluten free using translucent rice wrappers and napa cabbage.
Today is Chap Goh Mei, the 15th and final day of the Chinese New Year celebrations. This occasion is celebrated with greater prominence by certain quarters of the Chinese population. In the old days, Chap Goh Mei was equivalent to Valentine’s Day in the cities of the Straits Settlements comprising of Penang, Malacca, and Singapore. The cloistered damsels of rich Peranakan families rode to town in a covered trishaw, safely accompanied by a chaperon to enjoy the festivities.
Tradition of Tossing Oranges into the Ocean
Apart from exchanging glances with the local boys, there was also the custom for these girls to toss oranges into the ocean as they make their wish for a good match in the future. An urban legend has it that some of the more adventurous guys actually wade out into the ocean to collect the oranges either for eating or audaciously claim the hand of the maiden to toss it. I suppose if there is a will, there is way. This custom continues to this day in the city of Penang.
Symbolism of Dumplings
While Peranakan celebration of Chap Goh Mei does not involve dumplings, they are very much a part of the Chinese New Year offering in other segments of Chinese society. Dumplings symbolizes wealth and so I made Money Bag Dumplings and Cabbage Rolls to underscore these good wishes.
Dumplings are usually made with pot sticker or wonton wrappers, easily purchased at the Asian grocery stores. These are wheat flour wrappers. For a gluten-free option, I use Vietnamese rice wrappers instead. They are more delicate and not as sturdy but they do give a nice translucent appearance to the dumplings. They hold up pretty well in smaller dumplings but one has to handle larger dumplings like these gently. Small tears in the wrapping will not be visible once the dumpling is immersed in the soup. Dumplings wrapped in rice wrappers should first be steamed so that the wrapper stays with the filling. Cooking them directly in the soup causes the wrapper to unravel.
Another gluten-free option is to use Napa cabbage as a wrapper. The amount of filling in the recipe below is sufficient for either 4 large Money Bag Dumplings or 8 small Cabbage Rolls. Please double the filling if you intend to do both.
Tools Used in Making These Money Bag Dumplings and Cabbage Rolls
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- Mix all filling ingredients, except shrimp in a bowl. Allow it to marinate for 30 minutes.
Money Bag Dumplings
- Divide filling into 4 equal portions.
- Fill a large shallow bowl with warm water. Dip one rice wrapper into warm water and remove quickly. Lay wrapper on a lightly oiled dinner plate or cutting board. Rice wrapper will soften.
- Place a portion of filling onto dampened rice wrapper. Top with 8 tiny pieces of shrimps (equivalent to 2 shrimps).
- Gather edge of wrapper up around the filling. Tie with blanched green onion.
- Place onto a lightly oiled shallow bowl or casserole dish. Repeat with the other 3 portions of filling.
- Divide filling into 8 equal portions.
- Place a portion of filling onto the white edge of a blanched Napa cabbage. Top with 4 tiny pieces of shrimps (equivalent to 1 shrimp).
- Roll cabbage around the filling like a jelly roll. Tie with blanched green onion.
- Place onto a shallow bowl or casserole dish. Repeat with the other 7 portions of filling.
Steam Money Bag Dumplings and Cabbage Rolls
- Fill a large pot with about an inch of water. Place a rack at the base of the pot. Bring water to a boil.
- Place dish with dumplings or cabbage rolls on rack. Cover and steam for 10 minutes.
- Gently transfer one dumpling or two cabbage rolls with a large serving spoon into individual bowls. Ladle some soup into bowls about half way up the sides of dumplings or cabbage rolls. Add a few drops of sesame oil.
- Serve hot with dumpling sauce or soy sauce.
Money Bag Dumplings
These delicious Money Bag Dumplings make a lovely and impressive appetizer. Do not transfer the huge dumpling onto a plate. Simply cut and scoop up bite size pieces with a spoon together with a little soup directly from the bowl.
Cut the Cabbage Rolls into halves or thirds so that they are easier to handle.