March 20, 2021

Last Chinese New Year, I’ve decided to make my own version of vegetarian potstickers or dumplings. Usually, I can buy them in stores since I’m currently in Asia, but the ones here typically have meat in them. Yes, even the ones that say ‘vegetable’ somehow still manages to have a bit of pork in them. So with my cravings and the internet, I’ve decided to watch a tutorial via YouTube on how to make and wrap dumplings, and I simply went from there.

To be quite fair, I’ve never really needed to make dumplings before since I can get them in any Asian restaurant or store. Sometimes the older people in my family even make them for me, but the current dilemma that I have is these dumplings are not vegetarian.

One of the things that I want to work on this 2021 is transitioning from being a meat-eater to a full-fledged vegetarian. It’s a step-by-step process, and I still can’t go vegan because I still use butter and cheese always. So I think that’s going to be a bit more challenging to work on, but as we say in Spanish, “Poco a poco.”

For the last Chinese New Year, I’ve decided to welcome it by learning and working on a new skill: making dumplings!

Here is my personal recipe on how I made my very first Cabbage + Tofu Dumpling—please bear in mind that this is my own experimental recipe and that this isn’t traditional at all. So traditionalists, please don’t come at me. Ha!

So without further ado, here are the ingredients that you’ll be needing to make this delicious dumpling recipe:

  • dumpling wrappers
  • napa cabbage (1 whole and cut into strips)
  • tofu (3 cubes and cut into small cubes)
  • white onion (1 whole and diced)
  • garlic (3 cloves and minced)
  • ginger (1 tbsp and minced)
  • sesame seeds (3 tbsps and toasted)
  • sesame oil (3 tbsp)
  • soy sauce (1 1/2 tbsp)
  • black pepper (al gusto)
  • paprika (al gusto)
  • chili flakes (al gusto)

Once you’ve got all these ingredients ready, it’s now time to get cooking…or wrapping?

  1. Gather all the ingredients needed and simply chop the vegetables on the list according to the instructions.
  2. Put your stripped napa cabbage into a colander and add a generous amount of salt. The more, the merrier! Don’t worry about it being too salty since the salt will only help your napa cabbage to sweat, but you’ll ultimately strain and wash the salt off later on. Leave this for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. In a separate bowl, mash your cubed tofu. The firm tofu is better for this recipe since the soft tofu will be crushed way easier, and it’s a bit too watery.
  4. Once the tofu is crushed, add your white onion, garlic, and ginger.
  5. Mix everything and add in your toasted sesame seeds and your sesame oil. Then mix once more.
  6. Once the 10 to 15 minutes have passed, run your napa cabbage with water and strain the salt and water through the colander. Make sure that the napa cabbage is soft but not mushy. You’ll want that extra bit of crunch for when you bite into your dumplings once cooked.
  7. Mix the napa cabbage into the big bowl, and mix everything. Make sure that all parts are covered in the sesame oil.
  8. Add the soy sauce to your bowl, then add your spices.
  9. Once the flavour profile of your filling is to your liking, then it’s time to wrap!
  10. Wrap each dumpling carefully, and make sure that it’s not over nor underfilled because it’s not going to close properly. I kind of cheated and used a store-bought dumpling wrapper, but if you want to make your own dumpling wrappers, that’s totally fine too!

That’s pretty much it! Once you’re done, just set them aside and store them in your freezer until you’re ready to devour them. It’s super easy, and it’s so much better than eating store-bought ones, that’s for sure.

There are several different ways that you can cook the dumplings that you’ve just made. You can steam them, boil them, drop them into a soup, deep-fry them; the possibilities are endless!

What I usually do is I cook them gyoza-style, which is probably one of the easiest ways to cook them. You simply have to put them together on a non-stick pan, add a bit of water and a bit of sesame oil so they won’t stick, then just leave them on your stove’s lowest heat until the top part steams and the bottom becomes so crispy.

If you’re interested in watching the tutorial I used to fold these dumplings, here it is:

For now, I must dream of better days where I can go back to China and eat all the delicious authentic and vegetarian dumplings that my heart desires. I can only dream. So for now, I must make them myself!

What are your favourite dumpling fillings? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and share this little recipe with your family and friends! Cooking is such a passion of mine, and I can’t wait to share more amazing and experimental recipes with all of you! Have a great day and be safe, wherever you guys may currently be. As Julia Child says, “Bon appétit!”

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Ephesians 2:10 NIV

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