How to Make Shamey Momos, the Vegetarian Version of Tibet’s Famous Dumplings

Momos are, hands down, Tibet’s most beloved dish. Every Tibetan family has a slightly different recipe for these plump and hearty dumplings, and each family has its own theories on how to make momos juicier or how to roll out the dough to the desired delicate thinness.

Traditionally, most of the momos in Tibet are sha (meat) momos, made from yak; but at some point in the Tibetan diaspora, vegetable fillings became popular as well. In Tibetan these vegetable momos are known as shamey—literally, without meat.

The most common shamey momos are filled with seasoned potatoes of some sort, but in our meat-free household, we prefer a lighter, more flavorful blend with tofu, shiitake mushrooms, bok choy, fresh ginger, garlic, and red onion. The possibilities for momo fillings are limited only by your imagination, though.

One of the wonderful things about momos is that there’s such a huge variety of ways to fill, shape, and cook them. Steaming is the most popular cooking method, but you can also pan fry, deep fry, or drop your momos into a pot of savory mo-thuk, or momo soup. Plus, there’s a diversity of shapes, including the popular half-moon and the basic round shape with a topknot, as well as the “mouse” (tsi-tsi) shape used for soup momos, and others. Some families will always shape meat momos a certain way, and vegetable momos another way; we personally love the half-moon shape because there’s less thick dough at the center.

Tips and tricks for making vegetable momos at home

As we mentioned above, seasoned potatoes are a popular vegetarian momo filling, but we’ve tried many other flavor combos in our vegetable momos, usually starting with a base of garlic and onion, and often fresh ginger. Be sure to pre-cook any mushrooms or tofu to limit excess liquid in the filling and to keep the momo skins from getting soggy.

A few favorite filling options

  • Napa cabbage or baby bok choy, tofu, and mushroom

  • Chickpea and mushroom (we love mushrooms!), with curry powder or garam masala and turmeric

  • Spinach, mushroom, and Parmesan (use a vegetarian-friendly version)—don’t use ginger for this one

  • Mascarpone, onion, and mushroom (a speciality devised by our friend Samten at Berkeley’s Cafe Tibet)

Making momo dough

Our momo dough recipe is simply a mix of all-purpose flour and water. You’ll knead it until it’s quite flexible—this can take about five minutes after the dough comes together. Cover the dough while you prepare the fillings—you don’t want it to dry out, or it’ll be hard to work with.

When you’re rolling the dough, your final wrappers should be quite thin—about ⅛ inch thick—but not so thin that you can see through the wrapper when you pick it up. Once you’ve rolled out the dough, the easiest way to make a circle of dough is to use a small cup or glass, turned upside down, to cut out circles about the size of the palm of your hand.

If you don’t wish to make the dough and dumpling wrappers yourself, you can buy round dumpling wrappers at many grocery stores. They may be called wonton, potsticker, gyoza, or shumai wrappers. The flavor and texture will be a bit different, but they totally work!

How to shape momos

Invite your friends over for a momo-making party—it’s a lot more fun to shape all of your momos together. If you’re not a dumpling pro, start with a little less filling than you think you’ll need— it’s more challenging to shape fuller momos.

Before you start, consider watching a demo—a video is worth a thousand words. Here’s a video we made that has slow motion to help you with the tricky bits—the folding starts at 11:47.

Pinch and fold.

Pinch and fold.

Joseph De Leo

Begin by holding the flat circle of dough in your left hand, then put about a tablespoon of the vegetable filling in the middle of the dough. Beginning anywhere on the circle, pinch the edge of the dough together to make a crescent shape, then fold in a small piece of the wrapper from the top edge of the circle (that is, the edge furthest from you) and pinch it down against the bottom edge of the circle—the half nearest you. The bottom edge of the circle stays relatively flat and doesn’t get folded. All the folding happens only on one side of the momo.

Continue folding and pinching from the starting point, moving along the edge until you reach the other tip of the half-moon. Be sure to really pinch all the openings so they’re well closed, so that the liquid in the filling doesn’t see out while cooking.

It’s a good idea to keep a dry cloth or paper towel nearby to dry your hands off in between making each momo. Wet fingers and dough can make the wrappers slippery and hard to close.

In order to keep the momos from drying out as you make them, set the shaped momos on the lightly-greased trays of your steamer and keep the lid on them (before heating). Alternately, you can lay your vegetable momos on waxed paper and cover them with a lightly dampened cloth.

How to cook vegetable momos

To make many momos at a time, it’s helpful to use a large, double-decker steamer. Tibetans tend to use metal steamers, but bamboo is fine.

Lightly oil the steamer between each round of momos, and be sure leave a little space between momos in the steamer, since they will expand as they cook. Let the water start boiling before you put the momos in to steam, then set a timer. Steaming will take about 10-12 minutes—as long as the dough is cooked through, you can consider the veggies momos done; this filling doesn’t need hardly needs much cooking time.

Serving your momos

Serve the momos right off the stove—piping hot is best. But be careful when you take your first bite; The juice inside is very, very hot, and can burn you easily.

Pair your momos with fiery hot sauce. At home, we make a Tibetan hot sauce called sepen. You can also use soy sauce if you prefer; we sometimes mix together soy sauce and Patak’s Lime Relish. One final word of warning: come hungry, because it’s really, really hard to eat just a few momos!

If you are lucky enough to have any cooked and cooled momos leftover, you can reheat them on low heat by frying them in a little bit of oil for amazing crunchy golden edges. Go slow, since the filling inside needs time to warm up. Your patience will pay off.

Shamy Momos

Lobsang Wangdu
Yolanda O’Bannon

Originally Appeared on Epicurious

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.