A recipe for gingered Brussels sprout and shiitake pot stickers with an irresistible maple soy dipping sauce and a closer look at the gorgeousness that is The First Mess Cookbook by Laura Wright. Jump to the recipe!
A couple weeks back, on a rare crisis-free day, Brian and I fed the kids, sent them to bed, and had friends over for pot stickers, snacks, and wine. We tore into good bread, smeared it with tapenade, and dunked pot stickers in an accompanying sauce. After a challenging few weeks, it was a lovely respite – the kind of recharging moment that fills you with oxygen and lets you feel like yourself. I loved the company and the wine, but the food played an essential role, too. The pot stickers – filled with gingery Brussels sprouts and shiitake mushrooms served with a quietly addictive soy, maple, and green onion dipping sauce – were perfect in this wonderfully unfancy, honest way.
The pot sticker recipe comes from my friend Laura’s The First Mess Cookbook, which is filled with just this kind of simple, good food. I’m actually understating things here – because her book is more than simple and good, it’s restrained and vibrant, elegant and approachable. Quite seriously, it’s one of the most beautiful, thoughtful cookbooks I’ve ever held. All the recipes in the book are vegan, but they come free of halos or paeans to clean eating. The focus is on honoring – and elevating – the ingredients through approachable techniques and succinct flavor pairings. Please don’t make fun of me if I tell you that I literally got misty flipping through the pages. Laura’s book is exceptionally, almost indescribably, soulful.
If your interest is piqued, and I really hope it is, I have good news. I’m giving away a copy! To enter to win a copy of The First Mess Cookbook, leave a comment below sharing a time that food added something more to a moment. It could be a flavor that popped, a memorable meal, or a scent that transported you. I love hearing your food stories, so I hope you’ll share them below. Giveaway open to residents of the US and Canada.
I love Laura’s recipes and photography, but I also love her voice. Below, find the recipe just as it is in The First Mess Cookbook.Print Recipe
These look fussy to make with their folded tops, but I assure you they’re anything but. After I moisten the edge of the wonton wrapper, I quickly pinch and secure in any way I can to get the Brussels sprout and shiitake filling locked in. They wind up looking pretty in that “perfectly imperfect” way. If I’m serving these as a snack or an appetizer, I brown them ahead of time and just keep them warm on a low setting in the oven. The salty-sweet soy dip absolutely makes these.
- ¼ cup gluten-free tamari soy sauce (50 mL)
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (30 mL)
- ½-inch piece of fresh ginger (1 cm), peeled and finely grated with a Microplane grater
- 1 green onion finely sliced
- 2 teaspoons sesame seeds (10 mL)
- 1 tablespoon virgin olive oil (15 mL), plus extra for cooking
- 1 medium shallot (about ¼ cup/50 mL diced shallot, fine dice)
- 1 cup thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (250 mL)
- 2 cups sliced Brussels sprouts (500 mL), about ½ pound/227 g
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1- inch piece of fresh ginger (2.5 cm), peeled and minced
- salt and pepper to taste
- 25 wonton wrappers
Make the dipping sauce: Whisk the tamari, maple syrup, ginger, green onion, and sesame seeds together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Make the potstickers: Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots. Stir and cook until fragrant and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the shiitake mushrooms. Stir and sauté the mushrooms until they start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the Brussels sprouts, garlic, and ginger, and stir. Season everything with salt and pepper. Keep stirring the filling until the Brussels sprouts are bright green and slightly wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, and allow the filling to cool slightly.
Set out a small bowl of water. To assemble the pot stickers, divide the vegetable filling among the wonton wrappers, placing about 1 tablespoon (15 mL) of the filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. Take one filled wonton wrapper and dip your finger in the bowl of water. Moisten two sides of the wrapper, fold all sides together, and pinch along the edge to form a seal. Repeat with the remaining filled wrappers.
Wipe the sauté pan and heat a thin slick of olive oil over medium heat. Fry the pot stickers in batches until they’re golden brown on all sides, about 1 full minute per side. Add more oil to the pan as needed to finish cooking all the pot stickers.
Serve the pot stickers hot with the dipping sauce on the side.
Disclosure: A copy of The First Mess Cookbook was provided to me by the publisher, but all the gushing and love for this stunning book are entirely my own.
Vanessa R says
These sound delicious! Sounds like you had a wonderful evening.
A memorable food moment would be this taco I had at the Mexican pavilion in Epcot at Disney World. Something about that taco, with its pineapple in it has just stuck in my mind! We had a lot of great food on the trip but that just sticks out to me so much.
A kilo of fresh mussels cooked in a rental cottage after a day of hiking on the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland. There was *truly* nothing better.
Melissa Lound says
both recipe and book look great!
i’m thinking about when my twins were younger and we did an overnight camp with their preschool, as a “graduation.” our group barbecued fresh salmon from pike place market at the camp site, and we all feasted! it was a super fun trip and the salmon made it feel special and gave it a distinct pacific northwest feel.
The breakfast that my mom makes me whenever I get the opportunity to fly across the country home to visit her. A soft egg scramble with buttery lobster and herbs. It is something I crave and not just for the taste but the feeling and reasons. It’s full of love!
Amber - Loves Food, Loves to Eat says
Definitely not something fresh and homemade that in any way aligns with this beautiful book or your post…haha… but I remember first trying Pringles, in the late 80s, when I was around 4 or 5 years old. I was at a lake, fishing, with my grandma and cousins, in northern CA. My parents couldn’t afford fancy trendy name-brand chips like Pringles, but like all teenagers, my cousins, whom I worshiped, had all the coolest snacks. I truly remember thinking those were the best chips I’d ever tasted, and every time since that I’ve eaten Pringles, I remember that sunny day, the lake with it’s reddish dirt shore, fishing with my grandma.
After a day of walking around Edinburgh, my spouse and I found a whole-in-the-wall vegetarian restaurant that served stuffed tatties (potatoes). I got mine stuffed with hummus and greens, and it was probably one of the best meals I’ve had abroad.
memorable food moment???? so many 🙂 arriving in italy and ordering a margherita pizza and the house prosecco… amazing!
One of my favorite memories from college were the Fridays that I got to visit my Aunt and Uncle who lived nearby. Every Friday night they would host a homemade pizza night for anyone who wanted to join – it always lead to a fun night of delicious pizza with toppings that changed weekly. You knew that you were in a for a surprise each week to see what new and random topping might make an appearance and spur a creative idea for a pizza. We followed the pizza up with a new movie we had been wanting to see or a fun board game. Every once in a while I’ll get friends and family together at our house and attempt to recreate this magic. Its never the same – but it is never supposed to be, its about creating new and great experiences in a similar format.
Alexandra Robertson says
Yummm!! I am definitely a lover of food so when my husband proposed to me he took me to our favorite pizza place and then to. My favorite bakery for the best cannoli. It ended with a horse drawn carriage, but that’s not food related lol. I would love to win this book!
after a day of shopping at the craft fair, tailgating with homemade salads and sandwiches and a bottle of red wine, drinking eating and surveying our treasures was an end to a perfect Vermont day,
kelli winter says
Since my life is full of amazing food, it is hard to think of just one memorable experience. But into my mind popped this one. Early summer last year, I had an order for many berry lemon tarts. I went to one of my many local small farms. In the field on a sunny blue sky day, I picked the first strawberry of the year. It exploded flavor color and warmth from the sun and soil in my mouth. It was the best strawberry I have had. I proceeded to pick many and eat many and eventually they covered the top of my lemon tart, along with a few sprigs of mint.
Strawberry rhubarb pie! It always makes me think of time spent hiking and relaxing with family in Bar Harbor Maine!
I have been having trouble sleeping in recent weeks, and made sure to pick up my favorite makes-me-drowsy tea on the way home from work tonight. I was reminded that when I had really bad sleep trouble last year, my dear friend slipped a few of these tea bags into my bag with an encouraging little note. So as I was sitting here, feeling grateful for my friend, I thought I would text her to say thanks for being a generous soul and share that gratitude with you. Sweet dreams all.
A few summers ago, some friends and I slow-roasted a leg of lamb on a spit, down by the creek that runs behind their house. My husband was in charge of the meat while the rest of us made pico, cocktails and other fixings to make gyros. It was such a golden evening filled with such good food and our favorite people!
Sj Dc says
when we lost my grandma, the whole family had a potluck where we cooked all her signature recipes and foods she loved..we had a grand meal remembering and celebrating her and her lovely life which would have been exactly what she wanted
Oh man I can’t wait to make this recipe and get my hands on a copy of this book!
While studying abroad, I ate a a cafe one weekend while traveling to Prague. The meal was simple: a puddle of carrot soup surrounding a creamy dollop of mashed potatoes with some crispy grilled chicken atop it all. Plus seedy bread for dipping and soaking. It left such an impression on me. I recreate a version around easter each year, always tweaking it a bit. Never as good as the original time but still brings me back 🙂
Alyson Jiang says
Sharing chinese hot pot with my whole family that I haven’t seen for so long. Great way to catch up while sharing a communal hot pot of food!
I went on a long hiking trip with my boyfriend last summer — 200 miles on the Appalachian Trail. Food has never tasted so good (and I’ve never wanted to eat so much of it) as on that trip. I remember in particular one afternoon when we came to a lean-to just as it was starting to rain. We’d planned on hiking farther that day, but decided to stay in the shelter instead once it started pouring in earnest. I’d found some chives growing along the trail earlier, and a friend who was hiking out had given us a few packages of ramen noodles. We were already carrying peanut butter, packets of soy sauce, red pepper flakes, garlic, ginger… the lightbulb went off. A perfect storm for spicy peanut noodles. Eating them while listening to the rain come down, all cozied up in my sleeping bag, was just a perfect moment. They were delicious.
My father and I used to go camping in the Adirondacks in Upstate NY every summer — just the two of us — from when I was age five all the way to young adulthood. On our second or third day in the woods, we would travel into town to “Nathan’s Bakery,” a small hole-in-the-wall tucked up a side street owned by a motorcyclist. They were a necessity in our camping experience. We would go — chilled by dewey morning in a tent and musky like woodsmoke — and eat a bagel fresh, doughy and warm, handed to us by Nathan himself. Ambrosia. We’d bring back more in a paper bag to toast over our campfire and slather with cream cheese.
He once showed me how he made the bagels when I was very little. I remember being surprised at his kindness, even as a child.
Nathan passed away a few years ago of cancer, and the bagelry shut down. I have never mourned the loss of a man I barely knew so hard. I had always hoped someone would carry on the place so I could someday bring my children.
Still, such a fond memory, those bagels.
I’ve spent a number of years working in bakeries fascinated by the intersection of art and science that takes place around the bench. I revel in experimenting with new techniques and flavor combinations. However, the one dessert that stands out in my mind is a simple tray of brownies. It was a Friday after a long week of high school (a rough time for just about everyone). My friends and I lugged our book laden backpacks to my house and made a simple batch of one bowl brownies. Nothing fancy or special, just the recipe on the baking chocolate box. Still warm from the oven, we ate the entire tray with forks right out of the pan. That afternoon is by far one of my fondest memories from high school and stands as a reminder that no matter how good food is, it is nothing without good company to share it with.
These potstickers look delicious! I can’t wait to make them and share with friends (maybe I’ll even get them to help me pinch)
Natalia M says
My husband and I recently started a date night tradition on Friday nights. It’s a way for us to reconnect and unwind after a busy week, and have time carved out specifically for us. Of course this lovely tradition always happens to be planned around food. Wether we decide to stay home to drink wine and cook together, or go out to a favorite restaurant of ours, or we try something new to switch things up and make it more exciting. It’s amazing how different of a meaning food has on date nights than any other day/time of the week. For some reason, slowing down and enjoying a meal together once a week, makes the evening so much nicer, memorable and enjoyable. Food is really amazing if you think about it, meals can be pretty powerful and go beyond just supplying nutrition for our bodies. It also has the power to feed the soul.
So many good food memories, but it was my grandma and I sharing bites of chocolate when I was little and her teaching me to eat it slowly and savor each bite that forever stays with me.
Elaine Lander says
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a local chef in edible education. In the classroom, I usually take the lead, but in the kitchen, it’s all her. A few years ago, she taught me how she and her family make refried beans at home. Now, I make a pot of beans almost every weekend and think of her. I had the opportunity to share the significance of this story with her and other as a conference last year and it was a really beautiful moment that only food could create for us.
I like the way you folded the wontons. Nice and compact. Great photography!