Time Required: 1 hour

Crispy Vegan Rice Paper Dumplings

Healthy, easy, delicious, dumplings that happen to be vegan and gluten-free. What more could you want?

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Notes:

Feel free to adjust the ingredient ratios in the filling to your tastes! You can also fully substitute the tofu for the ground meat of your choice if you are looking for a non-vegetarian dumpling, or you can substitute the rice paper wrappers for standard dumpling wrappers for a more traditional option.

To make this recipe even faster and easier, you can actually skip the step of pre-cooking the filling and just mix all the filling ingredients together in a large bowl, then add the filling straight to the wrappers from there. I cook the filling in advance to make sure all the ingredients cook evenly, remove more of the moisture from the filling, and allow myself to taste it and adjust seasonings before I commit to filling the dumplings.

Crispy Vegan Rice Paper Dumplings

Ingredients

  • 1 lb package firm tofu
  • 3-4 large shitake mushrooms (~1 cup when finely diced)
  • ½ head of napa cabbage (~1.5 cups when finely chopped)
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 baby bok choy
  • 5 oz bag of baby spinach
  • 4-6 chives (~2 tbsp when finely chopped)
  • ~3 inch piece of fresh ginger (~2 tbsp when finely minced)
  • 6-10 cloves garlic (~1.5 tbsp when pressed or finely minced)
  • 1 lime
  • Handful of fresh cilantro (~¼ cup when chopped)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Pinch of MSG (optional)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt to taste (~1 tsp kosher salt)
  • Black pepper to taste (~½ tsp)
  • 1 package small rice spring roll wrappers
  • Canola or vegetable oil as needed for frying the dumplings

Steps

  1. Prepare your ingredients:
    1. Drain the tofu, wrap it in a towel or a few paper towels, and place a heavy object on it to press the water out of it.
    2. Pull off half the leaves from the head of napa cabbage, wash them thoroughly, then finely chop them until you have ~1.5 cups chopped.
    3. Wash the mushrooms, remove the stems, and finely dice the tops to roughly the same size as the chopped cabbage. Peel the carrot and shred it with a cheese grater, then add the diced mushrooms and shredded carrot to the cabbage and set that mixture aside.
    4. Pull all the leaves of the bok choy off the core, wash the leaves, then finely chop them. Finely chop the spinach, add it to the bok choy, and set the mixture aside.
    5. Finely slice the scallions, separating the whites from the greens, and setting both aside. Finely chop the chives and cilantro and add them to the scallion greens.
    6. Finely mince or grate the fresh ginger. Press or finely mince the garlic cloves, add the garlic to the ginger, and set that mixture aside.
    7. Slice the pressed tofu into large pieces, pat them as dry as you can, then crumble the tofu with your hands into small bits (no larger than pea-sized). Add the tofu to the mushroom, cabbage, and carrot mixture.
  2. Cook the filling:
    1. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic, ginger, and scallion whites and cook them for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly, until fragrant and slightly softened.
    2. Add the tofu, mushrooms, cabbage, carrot, soy sauce, and sesame oil to the skillet. Saute the mixture for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are mostly cooked through.
    3. Add the bok choy, spinach, MSG, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper to the skillet and cook for an additional minute or two, stirring frequently, until the spinach is fully wilted.
    4. Remove from the heat and add the scallion greens, cilantro, chives, and zest and juice of the lime to the skillet, stirring to combine. Taste the filling, adding additional seasonings to taste as needed.
    5. Place the cooked filling in a fine mesh sieve to strain out as much liquid from the filling as you can, pressing slightly on the filling to squeeze out more liquid.
  3. Fill the dumplings:
    1. For each dumpling, take two rice paper wrappers and soak them in warm water for a minute or so until softened, then lay them on a plate or cutting board.
    2. Scoop roughly 1-2 tbsp of the filling into the middle of one of the wrappers (depending on the size of your wrappers) and press the filling into a rough cohesive square.
    3. Fold the bottom edge of the wrapper over the filling, then fold the left edge over it, then the right edge, then the top edge, keeping each edge as taut to the filling as you can to press out any large air pockets.
    4. Flip the filled dumpling over so the seam side is down, then place it in the second wrapper and fold it the same way you folded the first wrapper.
  4. Cook the filled dumplings:
    1. Drizzle some canola or vegetable oil into a small saute pan and heat it over high heat until shimmering.
    2. Add the dumplings seam-side down to the pan, cover the pan with a lid, and fry on that side for 2-3 minutes until crispy with a few brown spots. Flip the dumplings over, place the lid back over them, and fry the second side for an additional 2-3 minutes until equally crispy.
    3. Remove the dumplings from the pan and place them briefly on a paper towel to drain off any excess oil, then let them cool for a couple of minutes before eating.
    4. Eat as-is or dip in your dumpling sauce of choice (I use a mixture of 3 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp minced ginger, 1 tsp pressed garlic, 1 tsp chili oil, ½ tsp sesame oil, 1 tsp black vinegar, ½ tsp brown sugar, and ½ tsp sesame seeds, adjusting the ratio of ingredients to taste).
    5. Store leftover filling in the fridge for up to 1 week and store leftover dry rice paper wrappers in a sealed bag or container at room temperature, then follow the same instructions above to fill and cook the dumplings using the leftover filling.
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