I love eating stuffed dumplings, empanadas, or any shape of dough stuffed with delectable food, especially pasta.  The surprise flavor when you bite into those little morsels of goodness is always exciting for me.  Dumplings, in this case, are usually not that hard to make but do take a little time to prepare.  I had some beautiful Japanese eggplant from the garden and wanted to do something a little different with them.  I also had some oxtail that needed to be used.  I ended up roasting the eggplant and combining it with cream cheese which kind of gave this recipe a rangoon type flavor.  I made a simple sweet chile sauce to accompany the wontons with and add just a little more depth of flavor.  This was a great appetizer I served that can be prepped ahead of time and just kept in the refrigerator or freezer until your ready to use.   Here is the recipe for the oxtail dumplings

3 lbs of oxtail

1 stalk of lemon grass

1 finger of ginger sliced

6 garlic cloves chopped

1 onion chopped

2 stalks celery

2 tbsp of sambal

1 cup of mirin

1/4 cup of miso

1/2 cup of tamari soy sauce

1/2 cup of vegetarian oyster sauce

32 oz of chicken stock

1 carrot

1 bunch of scrap leeks tops, or green onions

3 tbsp of sesame oil

2 tbsp Sriracha 

4 japanese eggplant cut in half and roasted

3 tbsp of olive oil

4 oz of cream cheese

2 tbsp of cilantro

1 jalapeno de-seeded

1 package of wontons (approx 50 pcs)

1 egg (for brushing)

salt and pepper

Peanut chile sauce

1 cup of rice wine vinegar

2/3 cup of sugar

2 tbsp of sambal

1/2 cup of chopped roasted peanuts

2 cups of oil for frying

green onions chopped

For the Oxtail

In a large braising pot or soup pot add 3 tbsp of sesame oil to the pot on medium high heat.   Season the oxtail lightly with salt and place in the hot braising pot.  Sear on each side for about 3 minutes.  Once you have seared the second side, move the center pieces of oxtails to the outer part of the pot so there is an empty space in the center of the pot.  Place all of the vegetables in that empty space (onion, ginger, garlic, lemon grass, carrot, celery, leek tops) and saute for 3 minutes.  Then add the mirin and reduce by half.  Then add miso, soy, sambal, oyster sauce, and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer and cover with a lid.  Lightly simmer the oxtail or braise them for about 2 1/2 hours or until they are very tender.  Once tender and done, strain out the oxtails and reserve the liquid.  Pick out the onions out of the pot and discard the rest of the vegetables.  Let the oxtails cool until you can handle them with your hands.  When you can handle them pick off all of the meat making sure not to have any of the cartilage or bone.  Place the meat into a food processor with the reserved onions.  Pulse the meat to break up the big pieces and onions so they are really small but not a smooth paste, (you want texture).  Then add a little of the braising liquid to keep the mixture moist (approximately 6 oz).  Then season the meat with sriracha and a little salt if needed.  Set aside until ready to make wontons.

Preheat oven 400

For the eggplant,

Cut the eggplant in half length wise and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and place in the oven face down.  Roast for 30 minute or until tender.  Take out of the oven and cool slightly.  With a spoon scoop out the eggplant without the skin.  Place in food processor with cilantro and jalapeno and puree until smooth.  Add the cream cheese and puree again until you have a smooth consistency.  Adjust the season with salt and set aside. 

For the sweet chile peanut sauce

In a small pot add rice wine vinegar and sugar.  Bring  to a boil and turn down to a simmer.  Cook for 7 minutes and then turn off the heat.  Add your sambal.  Then allow to cool to room temperature and then add the roasted peanuts.

Preheat oil for frying at 330 degrees.

To make the wontons

Take the egg in a small bowl and whisk for brushing.  Then  place 10 wontons out at a time or as many that can fit flat on your cutting board at one time.  Place a small spoonful of the eggplant mixture down in the center of the wonton wrapper.  Then add a small spoonful of the oxtail mixture on top.  Continue the same steps with the rest of the wonton wrappers.  Then take a brush and dip it into the egg and brush 2 consecutive sides of the wonton .  Fold the wonton over so you have a triangular shape.  Then take the egg brush and dab one corner.  Fold the opposite corner on top of the brushed corner and press to seal.  Continue with the rest of the dumplings.  Then place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and a dash of corn starch so the dumplings don't stick.   

Then place in a fryer and fry the wontons until golden brown (approximately 2-3 minutes)  Strain out onto a paper towel.  Then on a plate drizzle with peanut sauce and place the wontons on top.  Garnish with green onions.

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