When I went vegetarian, one of the things I missed most was dumplings!
Xiao long bao, those little soup dumplings full of pockets of hot savory broth and thick-skinned pork dumplings at restaurants fried until crispy and doughy all at once. But also my family’s potstickers—delicate folds of store-bought dough around a delicious ball of filling, fried until floppy but crisp on the sides.
Like pannekoeken, these vegan potstickers are inspired by a family recipe. My memory of making those potstickers consists of a huge bowl of pink meat and a head of waxy, crinkle-leafed, cabbage. And then a swoop over the bowl with the soy sauce bottle, dribbling the liquid until the mixture seemed tinted about the right shade.
IKey ingredients for vegan potstickers
Here are the key ingredients for these vegan potstickers:
- Tofu: To bulk up the filling and provide protein, tofu is creamy and perfect for binding everything together. I prefer making these with firm or extra-firm tofu. I wouldn’t recommend silken tofu as that would likely make the filling too wet and mushy.
- Greens: I most often use kale since it’s a cheap and nutritious. But you can use any leafy green vegetables you like–spinach, bok choy, cabbage or swiss chard are all great options.
- Seasoning: The perfect flavor base for these comes from chopped ginger, onion, garlic, soy, sesame oil and rice vinegar. Although the aromatics are added to the filling raw, they get softened and add delicious juicy flavor to the potstickers after being cooked.
- Dumpling wrappers: In this recipe, we follow Molly Yeh’s simple recipe with just flour, water and salt. However, you can always look for pre-made wrappers at most grocery stores.
What do vegan potstickers taste like?
These are filled with umami from the ginger, salt from the soy sauce and richness from the sesame oil. Texturally, this filling is smoother and slightly less toothsome than most meat fillings, but no less tasty.
What’s the difference between dumplings, potstickers and gyoza? Dumplings tend to have a thicker skin and can hold up better to being steamed or boiled. Potstickers are typically steam fried (hence the name, as they may stick to the pan a bit in the process of getting a crispy bottom). Gyoza is the Japanese version of potstickers, and are generally a bit more delicate with a thinner skin. Because these are made with thin storebought wrappers and use a steam-frying method, I consider these potstickers.
What should I serve with potstickers?
Potstickers are often served in restaurants as an appetizer, but my family always ate them as a full meal. You can eat them on a bed of rice (or even fried rice if you’re feeling fancy). You can also serve them alongside a vegetable like simple stir-fried green beans, bok choy or Chinese broccoli, miso eggplant, or a cucumber salad. You could also add a side of miso soup or corn egg drop soup or a noodle stir fry!
Tofu Kale Potstickers
- 1 16 oz block firm tofu
- 2 cups kale
- 1 small onion
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 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 (around 40) defrosted if necessary (or: make your own dough!
- 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!