As an indecisive person my favourite meals have always been dependent on little things like my mood or where I am at the moment. My sister on the other hand is a lot more straightforward – give her a big plate of dumplings or a bowl of soup noodles and she’s happy. So in honour of my baby sister turning 20 last week, I created a vegan recipe for her beloved dumplings (even though I know she’d still choose her meat ones any day).
For the longest time I just assumed dumpling skins were made with egg and never took part in those weekends every few months where my family would make a big batch of dumplings and eat them fresh for lunch. Apart from the obvious meat filling, it never crossed my mind to check if the wrappers were vegan and the day I did, I quickly whipped up my own veggie concoction!
The dumpling skins I buy are also sometimes called gyoza pastry and can be found in most supermarkets near the tofu section (or in Asian supermarkets if you’re overseas). Most dumpling wrappers are egg-free but I’d still recommend reading through the ingredients first, especially if you’re buying the yellow ones.
I’ve experimented with different fillings – aubergine, tofu, mushroom – and while I love them all, their creaminess usually means a mushy filling thats lack of texture just isn’t as satisfying as the texture of tempeh. Tempeh holds its own flavour and texture while still being subtle enough not to overpower the delicate little dumplings. The celery, carrot and wood ear mushrooms add some crunch, while the button mushrooms balance the textures out (you don’t want the filling to be all crunch either, just a bit of both).
Often used in Chinese cooking, wood ear mushrooms are a good source of collagen and is high in vitamins B2 and K as well as iron making it beneficial to your blood and immune system. It’s helpful in removing toxic substances from your body and counteracting high cholesterol and heart diseases. On top of it’s health benefits wood ear mushrooms have a unique rubbery yet crunchy texture (which is actually more pleasant than it sounds) that elevates the the taste of these dumplings. I definitely recommend trying to get a hold of some because they’re part of what makes the filling so good!
The versatilely of these dumplings is great – a plate warm dumplings is like a hug on those miserable days and they also make a quick, easy lunch when you have a batch of them frozen from before. Pop them into soups or prepare them as gyozas, you’ll be thankful for how these little dumplings make changing up your everyday lunch so easy xxx