Pan-fried Vegetable and Tofu Dumplings

Once I’d discovered how easy spring rolls were to prepare, vegetable dumplings jumped to the top of my list.  These are a much more significant time investment than the spring rolls, but they freeze beautifully.  I made a batch of about 60 while watching an episode of Bones on my laptop (so 45 minutes, give or take). 

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My first try with dumplings, I followed this recipe for golden potstickers from 101 Cookbooks.  I always trust Heidi to carry me safely through any new recipe or technique with carefully crafted instructions.  I bought gyoza wrappers at Berkeley Bowl (same aisle as the tofu).  Heidi’s recipe calls for yellow split peas and shallots as the filler.  I followed her recipe for the filling, deviating just slightly by adding a diced serrano pepper to the filling. 

As has been true with any filled cookies I’ve made and with my few attempts at ravioli, my first few dumplings were seriously over-filled with split peas literally splitting the seams of the dumplings.  After a few failures I got into a groove, and found that a scant tablespoon was the appropriate amount of filling for these wrappers (which were 3.5” diameter).  I carefully placed a small spoonful of filling in the center of a wrapper, dipped my index finger in a bowl of water, and then ran my finger around the edge of the wrapper.  I then pulled all the edges of the circle up into the center around the filling and crimped them together. 

I loved her combination pan-fry/flash steam method.  First you cook the dumplings in a slick of oil until the bottoms are golden.  Then you add 1/3 cup of water to what is now a very hot pan and cover the pan.  Cook until the water is nearly all evaporated, and the dumplings are ready for your favorite dipping sauce.  I like the spicy peanut sauce from this recipe for dipping or just a simple mix of soy sauce, sesame oil and sriracha.

I laid all the extra dumplings out on a baking sheet and popped it in the freezer for a few hours.  The dumplings froze beautifully, and then I filled several Ziploc bags with 12 dumplings each for us to have later.  The yellow split pea filling was hearty and dense, basically a full meal in itself.  I wanted a dumpling recipe that would be more of an appetizer and less of a meal.  These requirements led me to Deb’s recipe for vegetable dumplings on Smitten Kitchen.

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I left out the bell pepper and cilantro and subbed in red cabbage for the Napa cabbage.  Otherwise I followed Deb’s instructions for preparing the vegetable and tofu filling.  This filling was lighter than the split pea filling, though I used the same pan-fry/flash steam method of cooking them instead of just steaming the dumplings as Deb recommends. 

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I made another big batch of the tofu and vegetable-filled dumplings and froze several more bags of 12 each.  I’ve pulled a frozen batch out of the freezer an hour or so in advance and then cooked them normally, and they tasted the same as the fresh batch.  Hopefully now we can just turn to the freezer instead of Chinese takeout when a dumpling craving hits!


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