Tag Archives: vegetarian

Developing the Dumpling Recipes – It’s what’s inside that counts

asulia blog developing the dumpling recipes it's what's inside that counts

As you know, Asulia is launching a new handcrafted line of fusion dumplings in chickpea, kale, and taro root. Each fusion dumpling is made locally in Boston in small batches and is certified vegan. People keep asking me how I came up with the dumpling recipes.

These recipes are a modern fusion blend of flavors from the east and west, inspired by my mother’s cooking and my travels near and far. I wanted them to be filled with healthy ingredients that would give you substance without weighing you down. I also wanted the dumplings to appeal to everyone from kids to adults, and keep them locally made in Boston. The dumplings are handcrafted to retain the texture of each filling. I tweaked and tested the recipes two dozen times until I was satisfied!

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from mom and trained chefs is to always consider the elements of taste, texture, appearance, and layering flavors. Food needs to be balanced. When you dine out, typically there’s a mix of soft and crisp textures in your dish. It makes your taste buds happy and excited!

The main ingredients in each dumpling — chickpea, kale, and taro root — have a low glycemic index. They won’t spike your glucose levels. Instead, the nutrients are absorbed more slowly and steadily. This means you won’t be in a food coma after you eat them.

Chickpea Curry Dumplings: This flavor is a variation on indian and thai curries that I grew up enjoying. It’s probably the most traditionally influenced dumpling in our line. Chickpeas are high in fiber and protein. We never use canned chickpeas in our dumplings! We soak dried chickpeas in water for 24 hours, and then carefully chop them to the right consistency to retain texture. Then we steam them and blend them with coconut milk, curry, spices, carrots and more. Cauliflower was added to round out the flavor of the curry and to add texture.

Kale Dumplings: I love kale, it’s one of my favorite foods! It’s so versatile. You can bake it, stir fry it, blend in a smoothie, eat it raw and more. This dumpling is inspired by my mom’s yummy vegetable stir fries and reminds me of the taste of her dishes. In traditional Cantonese cooking, fresh ginger and garlic are used a lot. We mix kale with freshly chopped red and white cabbage, shiitake mushrooms, spices, onions, ginger and garlic. We use shiitake mushrooms to add an element of umami to the filling.

Taro Root Dumplings: I grew up eating taro root in China, where I lived until I was five years old, but it’s less common here in the States. I love it because it has an interesting and unique taste. It has a creamy, custard-like texture and slightly nutty flavor. I like it in every form, from baked to steamed. This recipe is inspired by a dish my mom used to make for me growing up. She would steam taro and marinated meat together in a rice cooker or braise it slowly over the stove with spices. Taro root is great because it has 3 times more fiber than a potato and is a great source of potassium. We steam the taro in small batches until its fully cooked and blend in fresh scallions, toasted sesame, spices, and more to create a savory dumpling filling.

 

 

 

Crowdfunding Update: Week 2

Our crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo is at almost at 15% of our goal! Please keep spreading the word by forwarding our newsletter, posting, reposting or liking our posts on FaceBook, and tweeting info out to your followers on Twitter. Here are some things you can copy and paste for use. We have until 10/17. Let’s launch Asulia together!

I’m thankful for your support. I read every email, text, and tweet you send along!

In other news, I’m pitching our healthy vegetarian dumplings to stores around Boston. I can’t wait to finalize details and look forward to announcing when you can get your own Asulia dumplings at a store near you! In the interim, you can get dumplings shipped directly to you by supporting our Indiegogo fundraising campaign.

Come Taste Asulia Dumplings in Copley Square 10/5/2013

On 10/5, Asulia will be in Copley Square for the Let’s Talk About Food Festival. Come say hi and sample Asulia’s fusion kale, taro and chickpea dumplings.

Find us under the Whole Foods tent with three other YouthTrade certified companies. The event is free and includes things like chef demos, food sampling, talking about food, and and opportunity to share your own food related stories. See a complete schedule here. I’m excited about this Saturday and can’t wait to see you there!

Asulia’s Anniversary: A Year in a Food Start-up

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been a year!  I’ve been working on Asulia full time since September 2012. Looking back at the past 12 months, I see that I’ve made a lot of progress as a food start-up, all while being self-funded. No matter what happens, I can be proud of that.

While there’s still more to do, when I write it down, I can see that I’ve gotten a lot done. The life of an entrepreneur is never dull. No wonder I’m tired some times! Some key things I’ve done since September 2012:

  1. Tested, tasted, and developed 3 vegan dumpling recipes: taro root, chickpea and kale.
  2. Changed the hand cut dumpling wrapper from white to wheat.
  3. Became ServSafe certified.
  4. Sourced dumpling ingredients, as locally as possible.
  5. Made nutrition labels.
  6. Purchased bar codes.
  7. Found a food photographer.
  8. Reshot food photography multiple times.
  9. Looked through hundreds of logos.
  10. Reworked various logos multiple times.
  11. Branded and then rebranded – I actually started with a different name.
  12. Went through 3 graphic designers until I found the right fit.
  13. Completed packaging development and design.
  14. Ran a trademark search.
  15. Legally formed the company.
  16. Found a kitchen to make the dumplings. This took months to do!
  17. Found an environmentally-friendly printer to work with, after calling dozens of places and researching for hours on end.
  18. Became a certified YouthTrade company.
  19. Obtained vegan certification for all three fusion dumpling flavors.
  20. Blogged, emailed, tweeted and posted updates on FB.
  21. Launched a website.
  22. Figured out Asulia’s personality. What does she like? What matters to Asulia? What matters to me? This is a key part of our brand.
  23. Started blogging for Huff Post.
  24. Walked through what felt like football fields of food at two Fancy Food Shows in San Francisco (thanks to air miles) and in NYC.
  25. Attended (and will continue to attend) numerous food networking events.
  26. Attended the Stonyfield’s annual entrepreneurship institute and was selected as a case study.
  27. Launched a crowd-funding campaign.

Along the way, I’ve laughed, cried, and met some truly great people. I’ve lost sleep and skipped meals, but I’ve also eaten some great food in the name of research! I’ve made mistakes. I’ve gotten lucky. I’ve learned so much about business and myself.

But most importantly, I never gave up.

2 Recent Projects Completed at Asulia

asuliablog-2 recent projects completed at asulia

Asulia Dumpling Packaging

We launched Asulia’s new website! The design process, including packaging design, has been months in the making, and I’m so excited that the design portion is all set now. Two major projects have been completed. Only a million more to go.

This journey so far has been more rewarding than I ever thought it would be, and I know it’s only just the beginning. As an entrepreneur, you really hit the highest of the highs and lows I’m thankful to be able to come through. My days are often challenging on all fronts, from bootstrapping everything to learning new things quickly. Time seems to fly by because of all the work that I need to do. I can’t tell you how often I find it’s suddenly the afternoon and I’m still in my pajamas and haven’t eaten anything. My new goal is to create a standing desk so I can get a work out in no matter what. As I write this post, I’m at a makeshift standing ‘desk’, a stack of storage boxes! On the plus side, I did manage to eat brunch today :)

asuliablog-2 recent projects completed at asulia

Next on the list is getting things lined up for Asulia’s Kickstarter fundraising campaign to go live. Dumpling packaging is finalized, Asulia’s video is back in the editing room, and I’m working on rewards. Sourcing custom-made things for rewards without knowing exact quantities has proven to be more difficult than I anticipated. I feel fortunate to have the help and support of my advisors and friends as issues like this come up.

Stay tuned for more on our Kickstarter campaign!

Taro Root, a better starch

unpeeled taro root, peeled taro root, taro root smoothie, an earlier Asulia packaging idea

Above, counter clockwise: unpeeled taro root, peeled taro root, taro root smoothie, an earlier Asulia packaging idea

Above, counter clockwise: unpeeled taro root, peeled taro, taro root smoothie, an earlier packaging pic of an idea I had for a taro & scallion boat before we knew a wheat dumpling wrapper was possible.

Asulia uses taro root as the main ingredient in our Taro Root dumpling.

Taro root is a staple root vegetable in Southeast Asia, Africa, India, China, the Caribbean and the Polynesian islands. It’s often used like a potato. I grew up eating taro root in China, where I lived until I was five years old, in braised dishes and steamed with savory ingredients. Then, my mother and I moved to New York and then to Montana where I spent the vast majority of my childhood. Needless to say, it was hard to find taro, let alone any exotic vegetables back then.

When my mom and I would travel, we would make sure to eat taro. Taro root can be roasted, boiled, fried or baked. The leaves can be eaten just like spinach! Unlike potatoes, its texture is custardy and it has purple tinge once it’s cooked. It has a nutty flavor from natural sugars that come out during the cooking process. What sets this root vegetable apart from it’s starchy cousins is it’s nutrients. Taro contains three times as much fiber as a potato, is a great source of potassium and is a low glycemic index food. It’s also is very easy to digest.

The glycemic index measures how your blood sugar levels rise after you eat carbohydrates. An index number from 1-100, with 100 as the reference score stands for pure glucose, a.k.a. sugar. Foods are rated high (greater than 70), moderate (56-69), or low (less than 55). On the GI scale, taro is rated low with a score of 18. A low GI means that it’s absorbed into your body slower, which allows you to feel fuller longer since it takes longer to metabolize.

It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t eat taro raw, it needs to be cooked. To prepare taro root for cooking, peel it with a vegetable peeler under running water. This will help you to avoid any sensitivity to the juices, which can cause a mild stinging sensation. You can also a knife to remove the skin. Shield your hands with a towel or gloves.  Keep your taro covered with water in a bowl or pan until you’re ready to use it. It pairs nicely with with milk or other calcium-rich foods. I love taro with coconut milk. Here’s a recipe for a taro root smoothie.

Sue’s Taro Root Smoothie

1 1/2 cup ice
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/3 cup taro powder or ½ cup steamed fully cooked taro
1/4 cup of simple raw cane syrup or ¼ cup of sweetened condensed milk

Blend together and get your taro on!