Tofu Kale Potstickers (vegan)

If you’re a vegetarian, what do you miss most?

Tofu Kale Potstickers // The Pancake Princess

After burgers (but not any other part of the cow), I miss dumplings. Xiao long bao, those little soup dumplings full of pockets of hot savory broth; thick-skinned pork dumplings at restaurants fried until crispy and doughy all at once; and my family’s potstickers—delicate folds of store-bought dough around a delicious ball of filling, fried until floppy but crisp on the sides: I could (and did) eat them by the plateful.

Tofu Kale Potstickers // The Pancake Princess

 

Tofu Kale Potstickers // The Pancake Princess

Like pannekoeken, these are a family recipe. My memory of making those potstickers consists of a huge bowl of pink meat and a dense head of waxy, crinkle-leafed, light green cabbage that kept my mom chopping, chopping, chopping for what seemed like hours. And then a swoop over the bowl with the soy sauce bottle, dribbling the liquid until the mixture seemed tinted about the right shade.

Tofu Kale Potstickers // The Pancake Princess

Tofu Kale Potstickers // The Pancake Princess

When I called for the recipe—determined to update it with tofu and kale—my mom listed off the ingredients: ground turkey, napa cabbage, ginger, garlic, onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar. How much? I asked. “Oh, a pound of turkey and I don’t know—a medium head of cabbage? Not too big, just enough to fill up that white bowl at home that I use,” she said.

Clearly, the making of the dumpling filling wasn’t an exact science, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for a miraculous recreation of the flavor of my childhood dumplings.

Tofu Kale Potstickers // The Pancake Princess

And what do you know! Tofu + kale CAN = turkey + cabbage. After guesstimating the amounts for the onion, soy sauce and ginger, I eyed the first tender, steaming dumpling with suspicion. But I bit in, and the flavor was there, exactly. The sweet-spicy ginger, salty-tangy soy sauce and rich sesame oil echoing underneath acidic onion, shards of kale and voluminous tofu. Texture-wise, the filling is smoother and slightly less toothsome than most meat fillings, but no less tasty. I fed Erik one before I told him what was in it; afterwards he just stared at me. “That’s kale and tofu?!”

Tofu Kale Potstickers // The Pancake Princess

Tofu Kale Potstickers // The Pancake Princess

While I love the word “dumpling,” these are technically potstickers. The difference lies mostly in the cooking technique, but also the type of dumpling wrappers that are used—potstickers use a thinner dumpling skin and are pan-fried first, then steamed (at the end, they literally stick to the pan a bit). Dumplings, wrapped in a thicker skin, can hold up better to being steamed or boiled. We always called these either potstickers or “gyoza,” which is apparently the Japanese name for dumpling. Anyway. They’re just delicious and worth going to pick up any of the ingredients you may not have on hand—a knob of ginger will run you a few cents at the grocery store and once you invest in a bottle of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil, you’ll be equipped to make awesome Asian food for basically ever.

Tofu Kale Potstickers

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: ~40 dumplings

Serving Size: per 1 dumpling

Calories per serving: 33

Fat per serving: .8

These tender, slightly chewy dumplings are victoriously vegetarian--vegan if you get dumpling wrappers without egg. They capture all the tangy, salty, toothsome qualities of the meat-filled dumplings that I loved as a kid, but with tofu and kale!

Ingredients

  • 1 (16 oz) block firm tofu
  • 2 cups kale, snugly packed
  • 1/3 cup roughly chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon ginger (fresh, not powdered)
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 package of dumpling wrappers, defrosted if necessary (or: make your own dough!

Instructions

If time permits, press tofu before beginning for 30 minutes up to overnight. Otherwise, use a paper towel and wring as much water out of the tofu as you can by squeezing it without completely destroying it. Set aside to drain. Rinse and dry kale, then chop roughly.

Add the onion, ginger and garlic to a food processor and blend until the mixture verges on forming a rough paste. Add the kale and pulse until incorporated with no large chunks remaining. Add the tofu and pulse until roughly incorporated. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until desired consistency, using a spatula to scrape down the sides and incorporate everything evenly.

Fill a small bowl with water. In each dumpling wrapper, place about ½ tablespoon of tofu filling. Use your finger to dab water around half of the wrapper’s edge and fold over to form a half moon; pinch the edges to seal.

Once all the dumplings are prepared, heat a pan over medium heat. Once hot, add a bit of oil to coat the pan. Add a single layer of dumplings (they should start to sizzle when they hit the pan) and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until a golden crust starts to develop on the bottom. Flip and cook for another 1-2 minutes, so a crust forms on the other side (the dumplings will still look mostly uncooked aside from the middle). Add a few tablespoons a few tablespoons of water, cover the pan loosely and let everything steam for a minute. When you remove the lid, the dumplings should look glossy and slightly translucent around the edges. If they're really sticking to the pan, add a little more water to get them out and serve hot!

Notes

Dumpling wrappers go by many names: wonton wrappers, gyoza skins, etc. They're usually in the refrigerated section by the tofu at my local grocery store, but I've also found them in the frozen section at Asian supermarkets.

http://www.thepancakeprincess.com/2014/01/17/tofu-kale-potstickers-vegan/

 

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35 thoughts on “Tofu Kale Potstickers (vegan)

  1. Amanda

    So we don’t need to boil these before making them? Just sautee them a little? Even if we make our own dough? Thanks in advance :)

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Hi Amanda–great question! If you do make your own dough, I would boil them first, because that’s the only way I’ve ever done it. Though now that I’m thinking about it…you may be able to saute + steam them and skip the boiling step–I’ll have to try that next time, sorry I can’t say for sure! If you use those really thin pre-made dumpling wrappers, no need to boil :)

      Reply
  2. kima nieves

    I just made these and they are amazing. so good….I love dumplings/potstickers but get so sad since most are made with meat.

    Quick question: obviously these are best fresh, but since i have to make these ahead of time, how can i keep them nice and soft until nom-time? also do they freeze well?

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Hi Kima! Yay! I also used to get so sad around meat dumplings, so I know the feeling–so glad you liked these!

      Yes, these do freeze well. If you freeze them on a cookie sheet (spaced apart) for a few hours, you can then toss them all into a freezer-safe bag for at least a few weeks.

      As for keeping them soft…I think you could probably cook them up to a day ahead of time and refrigerate them. Just before serving, I’d toss them either in the microwave or on the stovetop with a little water and steam them to warm them up–probably a minute or two in the microwave or 5-ish min on the stovetop. Hope that helps!!

      Reply
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  5. Lena

    I have been meaning to make vegetarian dumplings for quite some time now but have never gotten around to it. But your potstickers look so good, and the filling sounds delicious, that I think I just need to get my act together and dedicate a little time to making these.
    I guess what I miss most as a vegetarian are sausages (which seems weird to me), and bacon. And everything my grandmother used to cook. We never made dumplings in our family, but I am always so disappointed when they only have different types of meat dumplings in restaurant. (I guess I really have to make them myself then)

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Yes, please try making your own! You will be sooooo happy! (And we love happy vegetarians, don’t we? :))

      That’s funny–I was never really a sausage fan, but I do miss burgers sometimes (meat ground up beyond recognition!). And yes, family recipes! Becoming a vegetarian made me realize just how many family recipes were meat-based.

      Thanks for stopping by! :)

      Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Kiersten! You NEED to remedy that! (And it’s Chinese New Year so if you needed a sign from fate to make potstickers TONIGHT there you go).

      That’s kind of hilarious you remember the exact year! Did something traumatic happen or what?!

      Reply
  6. alice

    Delicious! Just in time for the asian new year and totally yum worthy. I don’t think folks would even know they’re vegan. Happy cooking for 2014!

    Reply
  7. Joanne

    Hmmm I actually don’t really miss anything, but maybe I’m in the minority? I do love potstickers though and can’t wait to make this veg version!

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Oh that’s awesome for you!!! I wish I didn’t miss anything…but sometimes I have to tamp down small, fiery desires for burgers :/ Thank goodness for veg potstickers!!

      Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Whee I hope you like these if you try em! It’s all about the ginger/garlic/onion/soy sauce/rice vinegar/sesame oil…I feel like everything else is pretty interchangeable :)

      Reply
  8. Nancy @ gottagetbaked

    Holy shizz, Erika, can your photos get any better? I don’t think so, girl, cause these are absolutely gorgeous. They make me feel like I’m in your kitchen, watching you whip these up, and drooling cause I can’t wait to try one. These potstickers look amazing. I’m always impressed when people make their own dumplings cause I think it’s such a hard, labour intensive process. I’m pinning this so in the event I ever get over my fear of making dumplings, I’ll have this recipe to fall back on. I LOVE that you made it vegetarian and that it still accorded with your childhood memories of your mom’s dumplings. That’s so awesome.

    Reply
  9. Lianna

    I’ve bookmarked this recipe and CANT WAIT to try it out!!!! The past month or so I’ve been make serious attempts to really limit my meat intake and this past week I’ve officially been vegetarian. I don’t know how long it will last, but I really want to make the effort to cut meat out for good (after watching documentaries on netflix that made me rethink the ethical/economical/environmental aspects of meat consumption). anyways, this recipe could not be better timing for me! Dumplings (or I guess they really are called potstickers :P) have always been a favourite and my mom is also the best at making them from scratch without a recipe. I think we’re pretty similar haha whenever my mom makes them I can easily devour the whole pan. But I definitely have been craving them among other things now that I’m seriously trying this veg lifestyle and I’m super happy you came up with a substitute that looks freakin delicious and a good enough replacement. I really can’t wait to try these eeeee!!!

    Also your photos are gorgeous as usual. Like cookbook material. Seriously!

    Reply
  10. The Vegan 8

    What a great idea to do tofu instead of turkey! I also love the sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar….I love all those flavors…they look so pretty too. I also love the spicy kick of fresh ginger, I just love using fresh ginger in my recipes. Great recipe from your mom!

    Reply
  11. Ala

    Your mom sounds just like my mom (or every other female relative in my very Asian family)–it isn’t such a big deal with making things like potstickers, which we did together when I was growing up too, but when I try and get a recipe from her for making something fancier, my mom will always give me this look like, “I don’t know what these tablespoons are of which you speak.” As a vegetarian, the thing I miss most actually isn’t a dish (although I LOVE Chinese chicken salad, the very American version of it…); I miss making these dishes and eating them together with the family. My parents still aren’t *quite* on board with the idea of changing up familiar recipes for what they call ‘weird trying-to-be-healthy’ recipes–and while I’d love to convince them of it one day, this looks like a wonderful recipe I’ll try with my friends and myself first. Yum ~

    Reply
  12. cynthia

    I absolutely adore this post, Erika. Love that you used tofu and kale, and love the story about your mom — that cracked me up. It sounds just like me when I talk to my mom! “How much sesame oil?” “Oh, you know, enough…” Haha. I’m posting potstickers for CNY in a few weeks! Hurray. Not veg, sadly :( but I’m glad to know I can turn to yours if I need to make a veg version for friends! Thank you so much for this lovely recipe.

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      I know! Asian moms (okay moms in general) just have the touch. It seems like they never measure, yet their food is always the best. Ooh la la I forgot Chinese New Year is coming up! I’m a bad Asian child. Maybe I’ll try to make mooncakes for the occasion…

      …not. But I’m excited to see how you style your dumplings–I’m sure they’re going to be exquisite!!

      Reply
  13. Mary Frances

    These look incredible! Your photography is just fabulous. Wontons have so much going on in them and this one would not disappoint. Love the textures and flavors in there!

    Reply
    1. erika Post author

      Aww thanks Mary Frances–these are actually the first photos I’ve posted that I shot in RAW! I definitely had a few color issues, but thanks for saying you like them anyway :p

      Reply

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