My senior year of college, I had a life-changing dumpling experience.
For much of my childhood, I had been a meat-only filling kind of person––carnivore that I was. In my family, pork was usually the only filling we’d use, and the only variation generally came from the kind of vegetable that went along with it, whether it was Chinese chives, cabbage, or some other leafy green.
Then, on a lazy spring Saturday, everything changed.
With little else to do on a Saturday at lunchtime (ah, college.), two of my housemates and I drove a half hour outside of campus for the express purpose of going to a dumpling restaurant. Upon sitting down at said restaurant, I took a two-second glance at the menu and settled on my usual––pork and chive. Then one of my housemates announced she’d be ordering the vegetable dumplings.
To which my response was, “What? WHY?”
The main problem was, I had never had a decent vegetable dumpling before. I’d found them to be usually pretty tasteless.
Of course, when the dumplings came out, we all had to try each others’ orders. And you know what? The vegetable dumplings were the best on the table. When we ordered a second round (and then a third…I’m not proud of it), we ONLY ordered vegetable dumplings.
Ever since then, I’ve been seeking to recreate those glorious vegetable dumplings. I eventually came across this recipe, and made some modifications to it. It’s pretty close to the original!
Vegetable Dumplings: Recipe Instructions
Start by making the dough for the dumpling wrappers (alternatively, you can just buy a package of pre-made dumpling wrappers). Put the flour in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add the water to the flour and knead into a smooth dough. This process should take about 10 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and let the dough rest for an hour.
In the meantime, make the filling. In a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons oil and add the ginger. Cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add the onions and stir-fry until translucent.
Add the chopped shiitake mushrooms, and stir-fry for another 3-5 minutes until the mushrooms are tender and any liquid released by the mushrooms has cooked off.
Add the cabbage and carrots and stir-fry for another 2 minutes, until the veggies are tender and all the liquid released has been cooked off. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a large mixing bowl and allow to cool.
To the bowl, add the Chinese chives, white pepper, sesame oil, Shaoxing wine, soy sauce, and sugar. Season with salt to taste (though the soy sauce will usually add enough salt to the filling), and stir in the last 1/4 cup of oil.
To assemble the vegetable dumplings, cut the dough into small tablespoon-sized pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll each out into a circle, and pleat the dumplings (see our How to Fold Dumplings tutorial for step-by-step photos on how to fold a dumpling using 4 techniques, from beginner to advanced).
Continue assembling until you’ve run out of filling and/or dough.
To cook the dumplings, steam them or pan-fry them. To steam, put the dumplings in a steamer lined with a bamboo mat, cabbage leaf, or cheesecloth, and steam for 15-20 minutes.
To pan-fry, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Place the dumplings in the pan and allow to fry for 2 minutes.
Pour a thin layer of water into the pan, cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Allow dumplings to steam until the water has evaporated. Remove the cover, increase heat to medium-high and allow to fry for a few more minutes, until the bottoms of the dumplings are golden brown and crisp.
You can also boil your dumplings. Check out this article for a full tutorial on how to cook dumplings three ways (steaming, pan-frying, and boiling).
Serve with our favorite dumpling dipping sauce!
Kaitlin’s Homemade Hot Chili Oil shown in the pictures is always our favorite!
But if you prefer, check out our traditional dumpling sauce recipe and serve both side-by-side!
To make in advance and freeze:
As you’re assembling the dumplings, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper, so they’re not touching.
Cover the baking sheet (we always use 2 clean plastic grocery bags), and freeze overnight. Once frozen solid, then transfer the dumplings to freezer bags for long-term storage. (Up to 3 months for best flavor, but they will last longer than that).