Veggie dumplings are hands down my favorite food. I will eat them steamed. I will eat them fried. I will eat them day old and cold straight out of the takeout box. For a long time I was intimidated to make them. They have so many complex flavors, plus handcrafting 20+ dumplings seemed daunting.  However, for my love of dumplings I did what I thought was impossible: I made them from scratch.

I turned to Alton Brown’s “Vegetarian Steamed Dumplings”  recipe for a list of filling ingredients, changing many of the proportions. I combined that filling with some helpful wrapper tips from the food blog Use Real Butter , and this veggie dumpling recipe was born.

Final Dumplings

Final Dumplings

 

Some pointers before we start:

  1. If you don’t have a food processor, grab a big mixing bowl and go at the dough with your hands. I’ve even found kneading to be a great stress reliever (just pretend the dough is the face of the person you most hate at the moment).
  2. If you don’t have a rolling pin, use a glass bottle or jar.
  3. Try not to overfill the wrappers! The filling is so good, you’re going to want to stuff them to the brim, but make sure to leave enough space for the wrapper to be pinched shut without things falling out. The first one is pretty much guaranteed to be a mess, but keep going and things will start to look Insta-perfect.

 

Wrapper Ingredients:

  1. 4 cups of flour (separated)
  2. 1 cup water (separated)

 

Filling Ingredients:

  1. 1/2 lb extra firm tofu cubed
  2. 1 cup grated carrots
  3. 1 cup shredded cabbage
  4. 1/2 cup red pepper diced very finely
  5. 1/2 cup scallions chopped finely
  6. 1 tbsp grated ginger (or add double this amount if you’re like me and go nuts for ginger)
  7. 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  8. 2 tbsp soy sauce, plus extra for dipping
  9. 2 tbsp hoison sauce
  10. 4 tsp sesame oil (separated)
  11. 1 egg lightly beaten
  12. 1 tsp salt
  13. a few shakes black pepper (optional)

 

To make the filling:

  1. Remove the tofu from the packaging and pour out any liquid. Most tofu comes in 1 pound packages, so I sliced mine once horizontally to make it thinner, then saved the other half for later use. To drain the tofu of the remaining water, place a folded paper towel on a flat plate. Place the tofu on the paper towel, then layer another paper towel and another plate on top. Finish your statue by putting something heavy on top of the plate (I used a large jug of dish soap, but a large can or even a textbook will work). Let this sit while you get all your other ingredients ready.
  2. Put the carrots, cabbage, red pepper, scallions, ginger, and cilantro in a large bowl and mix to combine.
  3. Remove the tofu from the plate stack (it should drain for at least 15 minutes). Dice it into very small cubes. It might even get a little mushy, which is fine for this filling.
  4. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, hoison sauce, and 2 tsp sesame oil. Once combined, pour over the rest of the filling mixture and stir to coat.
  5. In a small bowl (you can use the one that had the other wet ingredients), lightly beat an egg with 1 tsp salt and pepper to taste. Pour the egg over the filling mixture and again stir well to coat. If you let the filling mixture sit and liquid pools at the bottom of the bowl, continue to stir the ingredients with the liquid so they stay wet.

 

To make the wrappers:

  1. Put 2 cups of flour in a large bowl. Run your hands or a whisk through the flour a few times to get any large clumps out.
  2. Pour in 1/2 cup of water into flour and begin kneading with your hands. Knead for about five minutes or until dough forms a smooth silky ball. Depending on the humidity of your kitchen, you may need to add more water to get the dough to form. If it’s sticking to your hands, add more flour until smooth.
  3. Repeat the above steps with the remaining flour and water so you have two balls of dough. Put both balls in a large bowl and cover with a damp paper towel to keep moist.
  4. Move one dough ball onto a cutting board or other clean flat surface. Using a large knife, cut the dough in half. Move one half back into the bowl under the damp paper towel.
  5. Take the half you’re starting with and use your hands to roll it out into a long cylinder. Cut the cylinder (like a sushi roll) into roughly 5 pieces. Place the pieces you’re not using back in the bowl under the paper towel.
  6. Take one cut piece of dough and flatten it into a circle with your hands as much as possible. Then roll it out on the cutting board, making it as thin as possible without tearing. You may want to stretch it out with your hands a bit after.

 

Assembly:

  1. Place a spoonful of filling into the center of your circle of dough. Leave enough room around the edge for it to be sealed shut.
  2. Fill a small bowl with some room temperature water. Dip your finger in the water and wet the edge of the wrapper halfway around.
  3. Starting in the center of the un-wetted edge, make a small pleat and pinch it together with the wet edge. Moving towards the outside of the dumpling, create about 4 pleats. Leave some room at the end. Take the end and fold the corner in on itself to seal completely. Working again from the center, pleat the other side, folding the pleats in the opposite direction as the other side. Close the end with the same corner fold.
Reversing the pleat

Reversing the pleat

Complete dumpling

Complete dumpling

 

Cooking:

  1. Once all dumplings have been assembled, pour about 2 teaspoons of sesame oil into a large heavy skillet. Heat the oil on high until it is hot but not smoking. Place dumplings in the pan so that they’re not touching or sticking to each other. Timing for frying will depend on how hot your stove gets and how thick your pan is. Check the bottoms of your dumplings about every minute to make sure they don’t burn.

    Pan frying

    Pan frying

  2. When your dumplings have turned golden brown on the bottom, turn them all over on their side. Cook for another few minutes until golden brown on that side.
  3. Leave the dumplings on their side and cover the pan, leaving a sliver open. Pour in no more than 1/3 of a cup of water into the pan and quickly cover entirely, trapping the steam in the pan. Reduce heat to medium-high so the water continues to steam. Steam the dumplings until all the water is gone, or for two-three minutes. Uncover and let the dumplings cook for about another minute, or until desired crispiness is reached.

    Pouring in water

    Pouring in water

  4. Using tongs or a slotted spatula, remove dumplings and place on a paper towel lined plate. Let cool, then devour!

 

I made a quick dipping sauce by whisking together a few tablespoons of soy sauce, a small clump of brown sugar, a splash of vinegar (white rice is preferable) and a splash of water into a small bowl. Add the ingredients based on how sweet/acidic you want your sauce. Plain soy sauce also works well, too!

 

- Alex Fireman ’16