Saturday, March 9, 2013

Vegetarian Steamed Dumplings!

Well, folks, it has happened: I got my family to eat tofu and not complain about it.  Yes, this includes even Nick, and my mother, and both sisters, and Maggie.  How did I manage this magical feat, you ask?  I'll tell you how: I made steamed dumplings, and it was awesome.

The backstory: for my birthday, Caitlin gave me a gift card to  I wasn't sure what to use it on for a while, until my Food Network magazine had a dumpling recipe that showed a woman using a bamboo steamer.  I thought the basket-like structure was pretty cute, and suddenly the fact that I was currently unable to steam rice,  vegetables and dumplings was unbearable. I ordered it right away.

Last Saturday night ended up being the perfect night for dumplings.  Kenzie was the one to suggest we try it out, and she picked up the groceries for me.  A lot of dumpling recipes call for pork, but I really wanted to try a vegetarian recipe.  Unfortunately, the vegetable recipes all called for tofu.  I was afraid to even add tofu to Kenzie's grocery list, but she said nothing and just picked it up for me.  I tried to hide the container, but Nick spotted it and was immediately grossed out.  I told him to just wait; I'd win him over!

The filling of the dumplings required a lot of chopping of veggies, but it wasn't hard.  It's made of tofu, Napa cabbage, grated carrots (thanks, wonderful food processor!), scallions, ginger, cilantro, soy and hoisin sauces, sesame oil, salt, pepper, and an egg.  Can you just imagine how all those flavors meld together to just explode in your mouth!?  There is so much going on in these healthy little nuggets!

I was lazy and used store-bought wonton wrappers, which did save me a lot of time.  Kenzie helped me fill the dumplings since the ones I folded looked more like those little papers we used to fold in elementary school where we'd ask, "pick a number" (do you have any idea what I'm talking about?).  Hers looked more like an actual dumpling.  Then it was time to steam!  We poured a couple inches of water in a big frying pan and got it to a simmer.  Then I put some of the dumplings into the basket, put the cover on top, and put the whole contraption over the water.  Let the steaming begin!  It only took 12 minutes for them to be perfectly steamed.  The veggies were cooked but still give a nice little crunch, and the wonton wrappers were translucent and soft. My steamer has two stackable baskets, but I ended up only using one at a time to make sure the dumplings would all cook the same way.

I served the vegetarian steamed with soy sauce, and they were absolutely delicious.  Even the people you would never expect to eat a tofu-stuffed dumpling were devouring them.  In fact, I made about 40 dumplings, and they all went!  We all really loved them.  They are so flavorful and healthy and simply amazing.  As for anyone nervous about the tofu, you can hardly tell it's even there.  It has no taste and the texture just blends into the rest of the vegetables.  These little guys will definitely make a reappearance in my bamboo steamer ASAP :)


vegetarian steamed dumplings


1/2 pound firm tofu
1/2 cup coarsely grated carrots
1/2 cup shredded Napa cabbage
2 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Bowl of water, plus additional water for steamer
35 to 40 small wonton wrappers
Non-stick vegetable spray, for the steamer

2) Cut the tofu in half horizontally and lay between layers of paper towels. Place on a plate, top with another plate, and place a weight on top (a 14-ounce can of vegetables works well). Let stand 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, cut the tofu into 1/4-inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the carrots, cabbage, red pepper, scallions, ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, egg, salt, and pepper. Lightly stir to combine.

3) To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package, covering the others with a damp cloth. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Place 1/2 rounded teaspoon of the tofu mixture in the center of the wrapper. Shape as desired. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all of the filling is gone.

4) Using a steaming apparatus of your choice, bring 1/4 to 1/2-inch of water to a simmer over medium heat. Spray the steamer's surface lightly with the non-stick vegetable spray to prevent sticking. Place as many dumplings as will fit into a steamer, without touching each other. Cover and steam for 10 to 12 minutes over medium heat. Remove the dumplings from the steamer to a heatproof platter and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat until all dumplings are cooked. 

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