Happy Lunar New Year! In anticipation of the Lunar New Year (also known as Chinese New Year), I thought I would share a recipe for vegan dumplings, a new year celebration mainstay.
Dumplings are a major part of the Chinese New Year tradition. It has been said that dumplings bear resemblance to the gold ingots used as currency during the Ming Dynasty. Since then, dumplings have since been believed to signify prosperity and are one of the foods that are widely served as part of the new year celebration.
- Tips for the Best Dumplings
- #1 Go to an Asian specialty store to buy your dumpling skin.
- #2 Check the ingredients on the label.
- #3 Use the right dumpling skins.
- $4 Make dumplings the day you buy or defrost your wrappers.
- #5 Flour your dumplings.
- #6 Try both fried and steamed dumplings.
- #7 Pair with soy sauce and vinegar.
- #8 More hands the better.
- #9 Freeze what's left.
- How to wrap Dumplings
It is a Chinese tradition to place a coin in one of the dumplings during the New Year's feast. The family member who eats the dumpling with the coin during the dinner will be granted luck and good fortune in the new year. Some even say that the number of dumplings you eat during the celebration is an omen of how much you'll earn in the new year. The more you eat, the more you earn!
On top of homemade dumplings being delicious and so satisfying, the practice of wrapping them together with one’s family and friends creates togetherness and a bonding experience to bring everyone back together for the new year. It’s a fun practice to bring people together, no matter what the occasion!
Dumplings are traditionally made with pork meat. Recipes for dumplings can easily be modified with a meat substitute, but instead, I’d like to share a recipe that is slightly healthier, using shiitake mushrooms
Tips for the Best Dumplings
#1 Go to an Asian specialty store to buy your dumpling skin.
It’s also possible to make the skin yourself, but it’s near impossible to get it even, and the skins can stick together. It’s enough work to wrap the dumplings, so I recommend you save yourself some work and buy pre-made skins.
#2 Check the ingredients on the label.
This is why I recommend going to an Asian specialty store – these usually will carry multiple types of dumpling skins so that you have options in case some are not vegan. In order to ensure that your dumplings are vegan, you’ll have to check that eggs are not listed as one of the ingredients.
#3 Use the right dumpling skins.
Dumpling skins and wonton skins are not the same thickness, so make sure you buy the right type! Dumpling skins are also traditionally round.
Note: gyoza is a Japanese form of dumpling and gyoza wrappers will work well for dumplings.
$4 Make dumplings the day you buy or defrost your wrappers.
If dumpling wrappers are defrosted for too long, they will get soggy and sticky to each other. You may end up with gluten block rather than thin skins that can be easily peeled off to use to wrap your dumpling contents.
#5 Flour your dumplings.
Once dumplings are prepared, I recommend that you either dip them or powder them in flour before setting them on the plate next to another (uncooked) dumpling so they don’t stick together.
#6 Try both fried and steamed dumplings.
You may be tempted to only make only one or the other, but if you have made lots of dumplings, it will be great to have some choice! Try steaming a few and frying a few on the pan and see which one you like better.
#7 Pair with soy sauce and vinegar.
It’s a mistake to dip the dumplings in soy sauce only – make sure you add some acid with some vinegar. One would traditionally use Chinese black vinegar, but rice vinegar also works well, and other forms of vinegar can also be used as a substitute. Some choose to add ginger and scallions to the dip. If you want a bit of a kick, you can add sriracha or chili oil.
#8 More hands the better.
Invite your friends and family to come for a dumpling-making party. Wrapping dumplings could be time-consuming if you become over-ambitious like me and make way too many fillings! But it's really a fun affair. Get your family and friends involved. Make it a dumpling party!
#9 Freeze what's left.
If you were successful in wrapping many dumplings then they can be cooked or eaten in one meal, congratulations! I recommend you freeze the ones that you haven't cooked. It will be the homemade version of frozen potstickers you may have seen at the grocery store to be eaten at a later time.
How to wrap Dumplings
Some say it's hard, some say it's a skill, I personally think it's a fun challenge. It is easier if you don't over-stuff the skin like you might with a burrito. Less filling will make it much easier to wrap the dumpling. There are many ways to wrap it but I have a video on how to wrap the dumpling skin.
Vegan Dumplings Recipe (Jiaozi)
- 3 Cups Cabbage
- 3 Scallions (sliced)
- 1 Clove Garlic
- 1 tsp Ginger
- 1 large package shiitake mushrooms, rehydrated
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 packages vegan dumpling skins
- Slice cabbage into small, thin slices. Add salt and place in a colander.
- Wring the cabbage with a towel or paper towel to dry and remove excess moisture.
- Add the rest of the ingredients into a bowl with the cabbage. Mince the garlic and grate the ginger. Remove the stems of the rehydrated mushrooms and cut them into very small pieces. Mix thoroughly.
- Prepare a plate for the finished dumplings and a bowl of water.
- Take one dumpling skin at a time and put two teaspoons of the cabbage and mushroom mix into the middle.
- Dip your finger into the water and draw a half circle around the top half of the dumpling skin.
- Push the bottom left a fifth of the dumpling skin up, attaching it to the top and keeping the cabbage mixture inside, and pinch to create a fold.
- Keep moving to the right and creating folds and closing the dumpling until the dumpling is fully closed. Dip into flour and place on the finished plate.
- Fry the dumplings in a pan or steam the dumplings in boiling water until the skin is opaque and chewy. Enjoy with soy sauce (or your favorite substitute) and vinegar. You can also add scallions and ginger as garnish to go with your sauce.
For other delicious vegan recipes check out the easy vegan chili, stove-top Brussels sprouts, and pinto bean hummus recipes. If you are looking for other great vegan/ plant-based articles head over to our Vegan Basics section where you can read our popular articles like reasons to go vegan, tips for keeping a healthy vegan diet, and ingridients to incorporate into a healthy vegan meal.