Recipes | Veggie Mains

Tofu Veggie Dumplings: A Recipe with Longevity

As the ball dropped, calendar pages turned, and the East Coast ushered in 2014 last Tuesday night, we rung in the New Year with a blowout feast for the history books, including a big batch of tofu veggie dumplings.

Longtime readers know that the Boston New Year’s Eve party is a longstanding tradition.

It’s so long, in fact, that on this go-round we not only celebrated the new year, but our 10th year of throwing the party together.

tofu veggie dumplings

And as befits such a milestone, we decided to honor the occasion with a special menu: a host of dishes from all nine preceding New Year’s parties as a look back at the moments we shared throughout the past decade of December 31sts.

And I took the opportunity to revisit a nostalgic recipe that appeared once before on our 2006 New Year’s Eve menu.

It was our third party together, a pan-Asian-inspired theme in honor of the Year of the Pig—but this tofu veggie dumpling recipe has a history that stretches back much further.

tofu veggie dumplings
Photo: Casey Barber

Despite the fact that these tofu veggie dumplings have no family provenance, no long and storied line of grandmothers passing it down to mothers passing it down to me, and no authentic background to speak of, it’s nonetheless a recipe I hold very dear.

These dumplings go all the way back to my grad school days, when my cooking ability was still in its fetal stages.

A typical meal might have consisted of a sautéed Gardenburger chopped up and rolled in a tortilla with a few green olives for good measure. (You think I’m exaggerating?)

It’s baffling to consider how I might have been inspired to attempt something so ambitious for someone with so few kitchen skills.

I can’t claim that any part of the recipe comes from any authoritative Asian tradition.

Though I’ve tweaked the formula oh so slightly over the years, it is essentially the same as it was when I started wrapping these tofu veggie dumplings at the beginning of the 21st century.

tofu veggie dumplings
Photo: Casey Barber

The only certain change and improvement has come in my dumpling folding skills; no longer do they look like sad tortellini, but like real pleated beauties.

I promise that with a little practice, your tofu veggie dumplings will look just as good.

My initial assembly line setup was rudimentary—balancing bowls of filling and water on my computer desk, since I had no dining surface in my grad school dorm apartment.

And I assure you it’s much easier to sit at a big table and whip through a few dozen.

Make a double batch and invite a few friends to help; the process goes quickly and you can catch up on Scandal while you fold. It’s fun and won’t take a whole year.

tofu veggie dumplings
Photo: Casey Barber

Oh yeah, and the tofu thing? I usually refer to these simply as “veggie dumplings” when I’m serving them to large crowds. The extremely carnivorous and tofu-averse have never raised one peep of complaint.

How could they, when they’re stuffing dumplings into their pieholes too quickly to talk?

Other recipes from the New Year’s Eve party series:

tofu veggie dumplings

Tofu Veggie Dumplings

Yield: 4 dozen dumplings
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Homemade tofu veggie dumplings satisfy all your frozen potsticker cravings. Make a big batch with friends!

Ingredients

  • 1 14-ounce block extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or organic canola oil, plus additional for baking or pan-frying
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely grated
  • 4 scallions (about half a bunch), green parts only, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon mild or hot sesame oil (optional)
  • 1 12-ounce package wonton wrappers

Instructions

Make the filling:

  1. With your hands, crumble the block of tofu into small curd-like pieces in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering.
  3. Add the carrot, scallions, garlic, and ginger to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables have softened.
  4. Add the crumbled tofu and stir into the vegetables, using a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to further crumble the tofu into smaller chunks. The mixture should resemble fluffy but dry scrambled eggs. 
  5. Cook for 3-5 minutes more to dry out the tofu.
  6. Stir in the soy sauce and sesame oil, and cook for a minute or two more to fully meld the flavors.
  7. Scrape the filling into a bowl and let cool to room temperature for 15 minutes.

Assemble the dumplings:

  1. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with waxed paper and prepare an assembly station of a bowl of water, a teaspoon, a damp paper towel, and the bowl of cooled filling on a large, clean work surface.
  2. Open the package of wonton wrappers and place 4-8 wrappers on the work surface. (Start with fewer wrappers and once you get the hang of folding them, your work will go more quickly and you can do more at once.) 
  3. Place the damp paper towel over the reserved wrappers until needed.

To form round dumplings:

  1. If using square wonton wrappers, slice off 2 opposite corners of wrapper.
  2. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. 
  3. Wet your index finger in the bowl of water and use your finger to dampen the edges of the wrapper. 
  4. Fold one sliced-off corner up to meet the other sliced-off corner, gently pinching them together to seal. You'll now have a loose front and back half of the wrapper that need to be connected.
  5. Create pleats by using your thumbs to make a fold to the right of the pinched center in the front half of the wrapper, pressing to adhere the fold to the wet back half of the wrapper. 
  6. Make a second fold to the right of that fold to seal the entire right edge.
  7. Repeat with two folds on the left edge of the wrapper until the dumpling is completely sealed. If the wrapper starts to crack or tear, just wet it gently with your finger to seal the tear.
  8. Place the finished dumpling on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
  9. If not using immediately, freeze the dumplings on the baking sheet for at least an hour. Once completely solid, they can be transferred to a large zip-top bag for freezer storage up to 3 months. 
  10. Or cover with a damp towel for up to 4 hours and follow the instructions below, reducing cook time by a few minutes.

how to fold round wonton dumplings, via www.www.goodfoodstories.com

To form square rangoon-style dumplings:

  1. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. 
  2. Wet your index finger in the bowl of water and use your finger to dampen the edges of the wrapper. 
  3. Bring two opposite corners of the wrapper up to meet one another and press them together to seal, then bring the remaining two corners of the wrapper up to meet that point and make a pocket. 
  4. Press along the four edges of the pocket to seal completely. If the wrapper starts to crack or tear, just wet it gently with your finger to seal the tear.
  5. Place the finished dumpling on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
  6. If not using immediately, freeze the dumplings on the baking sheet for at least an hour. Once completely solid, they can be transferred to a large zip-top bag for freezer storage up to 3 months. 
  7. Or cover with a damp towel for up to 4 hours and follow the instructions below, reducing cook time by a few minutes.

how to fold square wonton dumplings, via www.www.goodfoodstories.com

To bake the dumplings:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  2. Lightly brush the frozen dumplings on all sides with canola or olive oil and place on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the dumplings are crispy and golden brown. Serve immediately.

To pan-fry the dumplings:

  1. Heat 1-2 tablespoons canola or olive oil in a large skillet that can comfortably fit a lid over medium-high heat until shimmering. 
  2. Add the dumplings in a single layer and cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes to crisp the bottoms of the dumplings. 
  3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add 3-4 tablespoons of water to the pan (or more, if you're able to cook more than 8 dumplings at a time in your skillet) and cover to steam the dumplings.
  4. Steam for 3-4 minutes, then carefully remove the lid, letting excess steam and condensation escape. 
  5. Gently remove the dumplings and serve immediately.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 450Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 1157mgCarbohydrates: 54gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 20g

The nutritional information above is computer-generated and only an estimate.

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