In college I studied Uzbek, and my professor would often invite us over for a traditional Uzbek dinner. Her food was ridiculously amazing. AMAZING. My favorite dish was her pumpkin somsas, steamed samosa-style dumplings, which she spent a few hours one day teaching us how to make from scratch. Then, the whole gluten thing happened, and I was somsa deprived. But THEN, I started experimenting with rice paper wrappers and thought, well heck, why not make those somsas? I had these adorable little butternut squashes from the market on hand, so I got to chopping!
1-2 Small Butternut Squashes
3 Large Rice Paper Wrappers, or 9 small ones
1 Small Onion
Peel and finely dice the squashes, scooping out the seeds first. Well, third, after peeling and cutting in half. Anyways, finely dice the onion and add both to a warm skillet with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, add roughly 1.5 teaspoons of ground ginger, then fresh cracked sea salt and pepper. Cook this mixture for, I don’t know, 8 minutes? That sounds about right. Until the squash has softened. Then you should remove your filling from the heat, and while cooling you might want to practice your rice paper technique.
Fill up a bowl that’s larger than the circumference of your wrappers with warm water. Dip your wrapper in the water, spinning it around to get all ends moistened. DON’T DROP IT INTO THE WATER. Ok, accidents happen, but for real, it’ll be really difficult to retrieve from the bowl and you’ll probably destroy the paper trying to get it out…like I did…many times. So anyways, then you’ll want to lay your paper down on a piece of parchment paper or some other nonstick surface. I used the large rice paper wrappers so I had to cut mine into thirds (just used kitchen shears), but small wrappers are the perfect size. Spoon a tablespoon of filling into wrapper or wrapper piece, and find a way to close up your dumplings. You can fold corners or pull up the edges and twist, it’s an aesthetic choice, as long as they’re closed completely. If you’re having trouble easily folding these dainty papers, wet your finger tips and continue to try *gently* working with them. Sometimes it just takes a few seconds for the paper to soften from your water dip.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a skillet, medium heat, and pan fry your dumplings on all sides. The paper will brown really nicely and you’ll be able to see when they’re done. Place on a few layers of paper towels to drain, and that’s it! I served with rice and soy sauce for dipping.
I’ve also made “pirogues” this way, too, just replacing the squash with a potato filling. The possibilities are endless!