"The intense blue colour of the butterfly blue pea flower is so beguiling - when dried flowers are steeped in hot water, they release their beautiful colour. In Thailand they make a tea to welcome guests; the flower high in antioxidants with a very mild floral taste and the intense blue hue changing to purple when lemon juice is added. Our Darwin chef friend Jimmy Shu (Hanuman Restaurant) uses the colour to make ceremonial Thai style dumplings for special occasions..making a dough and adding the colour, and then a delicious vegetable filling. Seeing the simple way Jimmy presses tweezers into the prepared dumpling to create ‘petals’ helps to underline the Asian delight in 'eating with the eyes’. Jimmy has just celebrated 50 years in restaurants and we are so honoured he is part of Food Safari Earth. He celebrated with a feast including these dumplings!" Maeve O'Meara, Food Safari Earth
If you haven't ventured into blue pea flower territory then these dumplings are a vibrant way to jazz up your steamy offering.
- 10 g dried blue pea flowers (see note)
- 100 ml boiling water
- 120 g rice flour
- 1 tbsp tapioca flour, plus extra for rolling
- 1 tbsp potato starch
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ tsp lemon juice
- garlic oil, fresh chilli and coriander, to serve
- 2 tbsp vegetable or peanut oil
- 50 g sweet pickled radish, finely diced
- 50 g sweet corn, finely diced
- 50 g carrot, finely diced
- 50 g raw peanuts, roasted and lightly crushed
- 50 g raw cashew nuts, roasted and lightly crushed
- 50 g dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water, drained and finely diced
- 50 g water chestnuts, finely diced
- 1 tbsp mushroom soy sauce
- 1 tbsp fresh coriander, leaves picked and finely sliced
- 1 tbsp spring onions, finely sliced
- 1 tsp kecap manis
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp cornflour
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Place the dried blue flowers in a small bowl and pour over the boiling water. Steep for 30 minutes to extract the blue colour. Strain and reserve the liquid.
Place the rice flour, tapioca flour, potato starch, vegetable oil and lemon juice into a bowl. Pour in 50 ml hot blue pea flower liquid and combine well. Transfer to a frying pan and stir continuously over medium heat until the mixture thickens. Reduce the heat to low and continue stirring until the dough appears translucent. Remove from the heat, cover and stand for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, for the filling, heat the oil in a wok over medium heat. Add the pickled radish, corn and carrots and stir-fry for 5 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, stir for 2 minutes, then remove from the wok and set aside to cool.
After 10 minutes of resting, gently knead the dough on a work surface dusted with extra tapioca flour until smooth.
To make the dumplings, divide the dough in half (keep one half covered while you roll out the other half). Roll one half into a sausage and cut into 30 g pieces. Using a small rolling pin, flatten each piece into 5 cm discs. Place a teaspoon of filing into the centre of the dough. Form into a ball by folding the edges inwards and seal the dumpling by pinching. Using a pair of flat-edged tweezers, gently pinch the top without puncturing the dough. Keep working downwards to create petals. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Place in a large steamer basket lined with lightly oiled baking paper and steam for 5 minutes. Brush with garlic oil and serve immediately with fresh chillies and coriander.
• Dried blue pea flowers are available from specialist food store or online.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Emma Warren. Creative concept by Belinda So.