Crispy vegetable tofu dumplings are a simple Chinese recipe that is so fun to make! An irresistible vegetarian appetizer dipped in your favorite sauce.
Have you ever tried Chinese Dim Sum? If you haven’t, make sure that you go this weekend for an extraordinary culinary adventure! Dim sum is a brunch feast where servers push around hot steamer carts packed with heavenly savory dishes to tempt those excited taste buds. You can find small tapa style dishes to share like freshly made dumplings, noodles, and filled buns.
Growing up a large Chinese family, dim sum was our Sunday family ritual. As you can imagine, I’m obsessed with dumplings and love the chance to cook them at home. Usually, I make the dough from scratch and add a savory meat filling. However being strapped on time nowadays, I wanted to find a quick and easy vegetarian option.
These crispy vegetable tofu dumplings will make you swoon! They are so easy to prepare and a lot of fun to make together with your friends and family. Roll up those sleeves and let’s get ready to put those fingers to work!
Dumplings are all about customization. You can fill each wrapper with anything your heart desires. I like to create a combination of textures in the dumpling. I used my wok to stir-fry tofu with crunchy cabbage, carrots, and lots of aromatic flavors from ginger, garlic, and onions.
A little bit of soy sauce and sesame oil adds some savory notes and traditional Chinese flavor. This tofu stir-fry is great as a hot dish on its own served on top of some steamed rice, or you can make it into some lettuce wraps. So versatile and tasty!
It’s time for the dumpling assembly line! I used wonton wrappers that I bought pre-made from the market. My store didn’t have round wrappers, so I used my 3 ½ inch round cutters to punch out circle shapes from square wontons.
Each wrapper gets filled with about 2 teaspoons of the tofu stir-fry mixture, then sealed and pleated. Make sure to brush some water on the edges of the inside and outside of the wrapper to help it stick together to make the dumpling shapes. The thin wonton wrappers dry out quickly if left exposed to the air, so keep them covered with a plastic wrapper or a lightly damp paper towel as you are pleating.
You have two options for cooking. You can steam them for about 15 to 20 minutes, or you can pan-fry the bottoms and then steam to finish cooking in the same pan. The contrast of half golden brown and crisp wonton bottoms and steamed tops is irresistible. You can now dip them in some classic soy sauce, hot mustard, or some spicy chili paste like in these photos.
Certain recipes really bring nostalgia and pure joy for me, and this is one of them! My uncle Brian told me that dim sum means “piece of your heart”, and making a simple thing like dumplings and sharing them with my family and readers allows me to share my love for cooking.
How do I select the right wonton wrappers for dumplings?
You can find a larger variety of wonton wrappers at Asian grocery stores, such as thin, medium and thick wrappers. Try to select the medium to thick wrapper since they will hold a more dense filling and you will be shaping and frying them. I found the Dynasty brand at Albertsons, and that was a good thickness (not all packages will indicate). I used wonton wrappers because it contains eggs to make the wrapper richer, more malleable and have a more flavor (make sure to read the label). To check for freshness of the wontons, you can see if the wrappers easily separate in the package like shuffling cards, if they stick together not they may no longer be as fresh.
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Crispy Vegetable Tofu Dumplings
- 40 wonton wrappers
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- ½ cup yellow onion, minced
- 2 cups shiitake mushrooms, or brown mushrooms, chopped (about 7 ounces)
- 1 cup red cabbage, finely shredded
- 1 cup carrots, finely shredded, roughly chopped to smaller pieces
- 1 cup tofu, diced, extra firm, ¼-inch cubes
- ½ cup green onions, finely sliced
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce, or tamari
- Heat a large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and allow it to heat, then add the ginger and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the onions and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes until tender and moisture has been removed.
- Add cabbage and carrots and cook 2 minutes, until just tender. Add tofu and gently stir-fry for 1 minute.
- Turn off heat and add green onions, black pepper, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Stir to combine, taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
- If you purchased square wonton wrappers, use a 3 ½-inch round cutter to cut out a circle shape in the wrapper. Repeat with remaining wrappers. Keep covered with a damp paper towel or plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out.
- Use a brush or your fingers to moisten the edges of one side of the wrapper lightly with water. Add about 2 teaspoons of filling to the wrapper.
- Fold the sides together a press to create a semi-circle shape, press out any air and ensure that it sticks together. Moisten the edges on both sides of the dumpling lightly with water.
- Create about 5 to 6 pleats along the edges, folding and pressing from left to right. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
- Heat a nonstick pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and heat. Carefully add about 10 dumplings or what can fit without overcrowding, and fry for 2 minutes until the bottoms are golden brown.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Very carefully, pour in ¼ cup water into the side of the pan. The oil may splatter so do this slowly and do not hold onto the handle of the pan.
- Immediately cover (I used a pan similar in size and covered as tightly as possible), and allow dumplings to steam until the water evaporates, about 3 minutes.
- Remove the lid and turn up the heat to medium-high. Fry for 2 more minutes, until bottoms are brown and crisp.
- Work in batches, adding another tablespoon of oil and ¼ cup water for each batch.
- Dip in your favorite sauce like soy or chili.
- Once you've grated the carrots, chop them up into smaller pieces so it's easier to fill and pleat the dumpling.
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