Steamed Vegetarian Dumplings

For a long time I was not enthusiastic to eat at a dumpling place. I love dumplings but having strong vegetarian preferences, I rarely found entrees I could enjoy - vegetarian menu options always seemed like an after-thought at dumpling places I visited. But that changed the first time I ate at Din Tai Fung - it's the best dumpling place I have come across and hands-down awesome for vegetarians dumpling fans!

So it was only a natural next-step that I ventured on a quest to make the Din Tai Fung style vegetarian dumpling at home :) I don't think I have gotten 100% there yet, but close enough and it's a version we devour at home so that's good enough for me!

These are steamed dumplings - not pan fried. I prefer the steamed version but you could pan fry and then steam by adding a cup of water to hot pan and put the lid on.

(photo isn't great - we could hardly wait to dig in!)
Making dumplings can bring the whole family together. Rolling the dough disks, filling them and then locking them into a dumpling is a process ripe for parallelism and more than one pair of hands. To little ones, it's also a time to unleash her creativity and make different shaped dumplings! 

And to be sure it is a slow process, takes time, but the results are very rewarding; and if you have good enjoyable company, what's not there to love making dumplings as family bonding cooking activity!

You can make your own dough and wrappers; but to save time you can also buy pre-made gyoza or wonton wrappers from your local supermarket Asian refrigerated section, which is what I do. They are quite cheap - $3 for 52 wrappers or so.

This is how I made the dumpling filling:
Serves very hungry 3, or moderately hungry 4 (made about 32 dumplings)
  • 1 block of extra firm tofu (extra firm is important)
  • 1C finely chopped mushrooms (shitake would be great, but I used regular brown mushrooms and they work well too)
  • 2 carrots - grated
  • 1 bok choy (finely chopped)
  • 1Tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1-2 spring or green onions (finely chopped)
  • 1C finely shredded cabbage
  • few mint leaves - chopped (optional)
  • handful of thin rice noodles
  • 1Tbsp soy sauce
  • salt to taste (go low as soy sauce has salt)
  • 2Tbsp vegetable oil
Vegetables - prepped


  • Prep all the ingredients before starting.
  • Try to drain as much water from tofu as you can - pressing it between two paper towels. Then break into small pieces.
  • Heat oil in a wok or large bottom pan.
  • When hot, add ginger and saute a minute until oil is fragrant.
  • Then add tofu and mushroom. Add a little salt to release mushroom juices. Saute until mixture looks dry.
  • Then add rest of the veggies, mint and saute until mixture looks dry.
  • Add say sauce, mix, taste - season more salt if needed.
  • Remove from heat. Spread the mixture in a large plate and let it cool completely.
  • Meanwhile soak rice noodles in hot water in a covered pan to cook the noodles for 10 minutes. Remove, check for done-ness. Chop into small bites and add to the filling mixture. Mix well.
Dumpling vegetarian filling
Assembly is very straight forward once you get the hang of it. Take a dumpling wrapper. Wet the edge of the wrapper using wet fingers dipped in water. Add filling in the middle (I add about 1Tbsp per dumpling). Fold the dumpling and press and pinch the edges together to make a half moon. 

Then make a sliding folding pattern on the edge to lock in the edges using your thumb and index finger (optional for that distinguishing decorated dumpling edges). Set them on a plate with seam side up. Steam in a steamer for 10 minutes. It's great if you have the special bamboo steamers - but regular vegetable steamer works well too.

Serve hot with dipping sauce (= soy sauce + very thinly sliced ginger)