Hi Vegetarian Carnivores! If you are anything like me, you absolutely love Asian food. Like seriously- I’d probably give my left arm for it. And one of the most versatile and popular Asian foods is dumplings. What’s not to love about dumplings? They have mega bursts of flavor all in one bite AND they’re completely customizable? It doesn’t get much better than that. So let’s get started on these delicious vegan dumplings.
Why you’ll love these dumplings
The main reason I am obsessed with these dumplings is that I learned how to make the dough from absolute scratch. That’s right- there’s absolutely no need to go out to the Asian store to get wrappers or anything special like that. We are making the dough from scratch with just flour and hot water. I took a class last year and that’s how I learned but I can tell you the learning curve is not that scary, and your dumplings will taste so much better and fresher than if you bought the wrappers.
Next, you can literally throw almost anything into these dumplings and make them your own. Don’t like carrots? That’s totally fine- you can leave them out or sub in something else. I will include a (very short) list of things I don’t recommend putting in dumplings, and why. But for the most part, you can go crazy.
Impossible beef- This one is key to the insane juiciness and tons of flavor behind these dumplings. The savoriness of the impossible beef contrasts with the caramelized undertones of the veggies. It’s an ingredient that I highly recommend you don’t leave out. Don’t like imitation meat? No problem- crumble in some firm tofu instead!
Shiitake- Create tons of umami flavor with some shiitake mushrooms! How much you put in depends on your taste preference. Bear in mind that rehydrated shiitake (from dried shiitake) have a much stronger umami profile than fresh. I tend to use fresh because it is generally available in the stores near me, so I use a lot (think, 6-7 medium mushrooms). You may want to use 2-3 if using rehydrated.
Toasted sesame oil- Not for sauteing the veggies initially, but half a teaspoon at the end of sauteing gives the veggies just enough flavor to add to the profile. Don’t overdo it on the sesame oil, and I definitely recommend against sauteing the whole thing in sesame oil (trust me, I tried it and it did not work).
Soy sauce- I recommend either a reduced sodium soy sauce or a light soy sauce. Dark soy sauces tend to be thicker in consistency and may not coat all your veggies evenly. Always start with less and work your way up. You would be surprised just how far 1 tsp can go if you stir it enough. Remember: you can always add more.
Veggies- Some of my favorites are carrots, bok choy, scallions. The key is to choose ingredients that will hold their shape when cooked for upwards of 15 minutes. It really does take that long to get to the consistency you can use for stuffing. I wouldn’t choose spinach, chard, kale, or any veggie that cooks down or wilts in these dumplings because they can get soggy- and nobody wants soggy dumplings.
Leftovers? No problem
Sometimes the amount of filling doesn’t line up perfectly with the amount of dough. And that’s ok! In the 10+ times I have made these dumplings, I only had a perfect matchup 3 times. But leftover filling is a good thing! I throw them on some instant ramen for a more filling snack, eat it over day-old rice for a makeshift “fried rice,” and even eat it by itself sometimes! Don’t judge.
How to make vegan dumplings
Ideally you would make the filling ahead of time and stick it in the fridge. It can cool and clumpen in the fridge and make it easier to work with. But I oftentimes don’t know I want dumplings until the craving hits, so I have found a convenient shortcut through the freezer and a little bit of science magic.
Ok for all you last minute chefs and dumpling aficionados- start by making your filling. You’re going to shove all your veggies (one by one), including your shiitake into the food processor and pulse until they are bead sized. You want a little texture so don’t over process.
Then you’re going to saute them over medium high heat with some ginger and garlic. You can use paste if you want, but I have garlic powder and it works perfectly too. Leave the lid off the pan and start letting the veggies sweat. When they start sweating, add 1 tsp salt to encourage more sweating. Remember your soy sauce is going to add salt too so don’t go overboard here.
Once your filling has evaporated most of its liquid, let the bottom of the mixture get a little crispy- this adds to the beautiful caramelized flavor. Add the Impossible Beef in only after all the veggies are cooked. Bring the veggies to the side and saute the beef in the middle of the pan until it is cooked and then mix it with the veggies. Doing it in this order ensures the maximum juiciness retention. Lastly, add the soy sauce, vegan fish sauce and touch of sesame oil. Put it in a steel container with the lid off, bring the mixture up the sides for a little surface area cooling action and shove it in the freezer for half an hour while you make your dough.
For the dough, you’re just going to take 2 level cups of all purpose flour and 3/4 boiling water and use a fork to mix them together until they form a sticky dough. Don’t try to go all healthy and use whole wheat flour here. I have tried it and it has been more than a little disappointing. I know white flour is not the healthiest thing out there but if you’re going to do this, then do it right. Pour the dough out onto a silicone sheet and knead together until all the dry pieces combine. My instructor said the hallmark of a great dough is when you’re done mixing and your hand is clean- ie: no clumps of wet flour stuck all over your hands. Cover it and let it rest for half an hour.
Now you’re ready to assemble! Read on below.
Ingredients (32 dumplings)
- 2 cups all purpose flour, level
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 1 packet Impossible Beef
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ginger, minced
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 6-7 fresh shiitake mushrooms OR 2-3 rehydrated shiitake mushrooms, pulsed
- 1 large carrot, pulsed
- 2 bulbs bok choy, pulsed
- 3 scallions, whole, pulsed
- 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce (more according to taste)
- 1 tsp vegan fish sauce
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet and saute with garlic and ginger.
- Add all veggies and saute for 5 minutes. Add salt. Continue sauteing for up to 15 min to evaporate all liquid.
- Bring veggies to one side and add in Impossible beef. Cook through and then combine with rest of veggies. You can do this all in one big pot or you can transfer your veggies to another pot if your skillet has no room.
- Add in soy sauce, vegan fish sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds and toss well to combine,
- If making it a day in advance, store in fridge. Else, put it in the freezer with the instructions above for quick cooling.
- Make the dough by mixing flour with boiling water and kneading until fully combined. Cover and rest for 30 min.
- Divide your dough into 32 sections. The easiest way is to cut the whole dough in half to 16, then to 8, 4, 2, and 1 for each section.
- Use a rolling pin to roll a (mostly) round 1/2 inch thick sections.
- Fill with 1/2 tbsp of filling and close with whatever shape you want. The typical wonton wrapping style is the easier but I like to learn new styles and go crazy 😉
- Now you can steam them for 7 minutes or do a combination of pan fry/steam them with a little oil for a crunchy bottom for 5 minutes.