Monday, November 22, 2010

Jicama + semolina dumplings of genius

Perhaps you know how it is.  Experimenting with one thing, you get it confused with another.  That happened to me tonight.  I brought out my experimental item thinking it was something that it was not, assembled recipes, peeled the thing, tasted it, and, absolutely no...this is so way too wonderfully delicious for a soup. 

Does it look delicious?  No, my friends.  It looks like something out of Pan's Labyrinth.  But this month I am all about trying new things, so I nibbled on a little sliver...and some more...and more...I couldn't stop eating it raw.  Jicama.  This stuff is awesome.  If any vegetable ever deserved a psychedelic background, it's jicama.  Jicama is a root that tastes like a melon.  It's so good!  So, on the fly, I made this salad with it, from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone:

It's jicama, cucumber, and jalapeno pepper, with a dressing of lime juice, lime zest, and salt, but frankly, the raw jicama was far superior to the salad-ified version: sweet, crunchy, tasty, and needing no embellishment.

But I still had that soup on the go, the one I was intending to put this into while I thought it was something else.  I used another new ingredient for me, which was semolina flour, and made a variation on my dumplings of genius.  It was genius too, for sure. 

According to Wikipedia, "Modern milling of wheat into flour is a process that employs grooved steel rollers. The rollers are adjusted so that the space between them is slightly narrower than the width of the wheat kernels. As the wheat is fed into the mill, the rollers flake off the bran and germ while the starch (or endosperm) is cracked into coarse pieces in the process. Through sifting, these particles are separated from the bran and this is semolina. The semolina is then ground into flour."  So it's basically coarse ground white durum wheat.  Here's what I did to make the dumplings:

Zoa's semolina-urad flour dumplings of genius
Serves 2

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp semolina
2 tbsp urad flour
1 tbsp almonzano (see sidebar for recipe)
pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt (use 1/4 tsp if you're also using black salt)
1/4 tsp kala namak (black salt; optional)
1/4 cup non-dairy milk, plus a little more if needed
3/4 tbsp Earth Balance, softened, or canola oil

Mix the dry ingredients together, then stir in the non-dairy milk and Earth Balance or oil, and mix just until blended. Leave the batter for a minute or so for the semolina to suck up the liquid (and it will).  Drop by teaspoonfuls into simmering stew or soup, cover, and let simmer 15 minutes.  They're done!  The soup itself is much like this one, only without the tomato paste or any other red thing, and with a little white wine:

Apologies for the so few pictures to this post.  I didn't think any of it would turn out...but, Jicama, Semolina, you and I are so now BFF...even though you don't get along too well with each other I'm cool about segregating my friends...


  1. I agree, jicama is so good! I love the cool, refreshing crunch. It's a wonderful addition to salsa and guacamole. Your dumplings of genius look delicious, too.

  2. I love the psychedelic jicama background...hey that could catch on as a theme in general for a band: Psychedelic Jicama.

    Jiicama is so sweetly crunchy and addictive...that salad is perfect!

    And did you use the jicama in the soup too? How does it cook up? I have to say, semolina or regular flour...any dumplings that look that good are indeed genius! Oh, there's the kala namak...I have to get my hands on that stuff!

  3. Tiffany, I would never have thought of adding jicama to salsa or guacamole. This vegetable certainly deserves some more thought.

    Thanks about the psychedelic background, Rose! Actually it is the background of despair when some but not all of my white lighting turns out blue no matter what I do, dang it.

    I didn't end up cooking the jicama at all, which is why this is such a schizoid and unplanned-type post. I'm guessing that cooked it would be quite a bit like winter melon, only maybe even better because it would probably retain more of its crunch. Well, I have some more spectacularly strange Chinese soups in my MoFo lineup, so maybe we'll see about some Mexican-Chinese fusion...

  4. I'm glad you tasted the jicama before cooking it and ate it raw instead. It's so sweet and yummy in a salad, and yours sounds like the perfect combination of flavors.

    I haven't used my urad flour yet — can it be subbed for chickpea flour or is it entirely different?

    I'm wondering if you can create the psychedelic lighting on purpose.

  5. I've only ever had jicama once, and it was raw. I can't imagine cooking it! I'm glad you tried it raw first. :)

  6. Can I create the psychedelic lighting on purpose! It is to laugh. Of course I can. Alas, it's the *white* background that is so very difficult. Canada's a great country but nowadays by 5:00 p.m. it's pitch dark and I'll be shooting in artificial light until about next May.

    Urad flour is totally different from chickpea flour and you may not substitute without dire consequences. Chickpea flour is soft and sweet and buttery and nice, and urad flour is tough, really hardcore. I use it in place of eggs in dumpling recipes now, but a little goes a long way. Two tablespoons to half a cup of flour is about right. I actually have quite a bit of urad dal (split urad beans) on hand right now, but after my experiments with the flour I'm scared to use it...

    Kelly, now that I've tried jicama, I can't imagine cooking it either. Though probably someday I will try :-)

  7. Maybe one day a post on your love of dumplings?