Homemade Vegan Dumplings (素菜锅贴)
The dumpling filling has a well-balanced texture with veggies, tofu, and rice vermicelli. It’s seasoned with plenty of aromatics, soy sauce, and just a dash of curry powder to enhance its richness.
- 1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms (7 to 8 small mushrooms) (*Footnote 1)
- 2 tablespoons dried wood ear mushrooms (or 1/2 cup minced bamboo shoots) (*Footnote 2)
- 1/2 pack dried rice vermicelli (*Footnote 3)
- 2 cups cabbage , shredded
- 1/2 block (225-g / 8-oz) firm tofu , crumbled by hand
- 1 cup carrot , shredded (about 4 carrots)
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger , minced
- 4 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil, separated, and more to fry the dumplings)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce , separated
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1/2 cup green onions , finely chopped
- 50 packaged frozen dumpling wrappers , thawed OR homemade dumpling wrappers (*Footnote 4)
Prepare the filling
Add the shiitake mushrooms to a medium sized bowl and add at least 1 cup of hot water to cover. Rehydrate until the mushrooms turn completely soft, 30 minutes or so. Gently rinse with tap water and drain. Remove the tough stems and mince the mushrooms. It yields about 1/4 cup of loosely packed minced mushrooms.
Add the dried wood ear mushrooms to a medium sized bowl and add at least 1 cup of hot water to cover. Rehydrate until the mushrooms turn completely soft, 30 minutes or so. Gently rinse with tap water and drain. Remove the tough ends, if any, and mince the mushrooms if they are big, or thinly shred them if small. It should yield about 1/2 cup of loosely packed minced mushrooms.
Cook the dried rice vermicelli until tender according to the package instructions. Drain and and measure 1 cup of cooked vermicelli. Coarsely chop them to about 1/2-inch (1 cm) length pieces.
Add 2 tablespoons peanut oil into a large nonstick pan and heat over medium heat until hot. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir a few times to release the fragrance.
Add the rehydrated and chopped shiitake mushrooms, wood ear mushrooms, and carrots. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cabbage, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and curry powder. Cook and stir for another 2 minutes, until the cabbage turns tender and all the liquid has evaporated. Transfer everything to a big plate to cool.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil into the same pan. Add the tofu. Stir and cook the tofu for 1 minute. Further break up the tofu into smaller chunks with your spatula while cooking. Add the cooked vermicelli, the remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce and the maple syrup. Cook and stir until all the liquid has evaporated, 2 minutes or so. Transfer everything into a big mixing bowl and let cool for a few minutes.
Once the tofu and the cabbage mixtures have cooled to a warm temperature, add the cabbage mixture into the same mixing bowl with the tofu. Add the green onion. Stir to mix well.
Prepare your working station by placing the dumpling filling, wrappers, and a large tray on your table. Fill a small bowl with water and set it aside.
Scoop about 1 tablespoon of dumpling filling and place it in the center of the wrapper. Dip your finger into the bowl of water and use it to wet the edge of the wrapper. Hold the dumpling with one hand and start sealing the edges with the other hand. After folding, press the edges again to seal well. You can use any method to fold the dumplings as long as you’re comfortable with it.
(Note, If you’re wrapping dumplings using homemade wrappers, you can add more filling, as much as you can handle, when you fold the dumplings. You also won’t need the water to wet the wrapper edge if you’re using homemade wrappers.)
Now you can freeze these dumplings if you don’t cook them immediately. Place them onto a baking tray and seal them in with a plastic wrap. You can store the dumplings in the freezer for up to 1 month. Once the dumplings are completely frozen, after about a day, you can transfer them to a gallon zipper bag to save freezer space.
Cook the dumplings
Cook the dumplings in batches.
Option 1 - Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add dumplings in a single layer. Cook until the bottom side turns golden. Add 2 tablespoons water and cover. Cook until the dumplings are cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes.
Option 2 - To get a crispier result, heat 2 to 3 tablespoons oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add the dumplings in a single layer. Cook until the bottom side turns golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip the dumplings, add 2 tablespoons water, and cover. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the bottom turns golden brown.
Immediately transfer the dumplings to a plate. Cook the rest of the dumplings according to the same method.
You can serve the dumplings immediately with dumpling dipping sauce or a simple drizzle of Chinkiang vinegar.
The best way I’ve found to heat up cooked dumplings, by far, is to use an air fryer. It crisps up the dumplings well without using any more oil. Alternatively, you can reheat the dumplings on the stovetop, using a nonstick pan with a thin layer of oil, covered.
Cooking frozen dumplings
The method is almost the same as cooking freshly made dumplings. But you will need to cook them covered for 2 to 3 minutes longer. I also add a bit more water, about 1/4 cup, to make sure it generates enough steam to heat the filling through.
- Dried shiitake mushrooms add a rich smoky taste to the dumpling filling. Alternatively, you can use 1 cup of minced fresh mushrooms.
- It’s a Chinese tradition to use rehydrated dried wood ear mushrooms to add crunchy texture to the dumplings. Canned bamboo shoots will work just as well.
- Vermicelli is another way to add a soft and “meaty” texture to the dumpling filling. You can replace it with 1/2 block of tofu as well.
- Although I used frozen dumpling wrappers in this recipe, homemade dumpling wrappers are highly recommended. Vegan dumpling fillings don’t bind together so well, so it’s a bit more difficult to wrap them. Back in Beijing, my mom always makes bigger sized steamed vegetable dumplings so every dumpling holds more filling. Use my homemade dumpling wrappers to make bigger steamed dumplings. Or you can use this dumpling wrapper recipe to make boiled dumplings. Note, boiled dumplings should be smaller in size so they won’t fall apart during cooking.
Serving: 1dumpling, Calories: 44kcal, Carbohydrates: 6.8g, Protein: 1.4g, Fat: 1.4g, Saturated Fat: 0.2g, Sodium: 82mg, Potassium: 30mg, Fiber: 0.5g, Sugar: 0.6g, Calcium: 10mg, Iron: 0.4mg