Many think of vegetable wontons or dumplings to be inferior to their more popular cousin, the meaty and delicious pork dumplings. While I love both variations, I do think the vegetable dumpling deserves a little bit more love.
What dumpling skin to use?
The first question that most people have when deciding to make dumplings is what skin to use. There are a few variations, the three most common being wonton wrappers, gyoza wrappers and dumpling wrappers.
You’ll find all three in any Asian store, usually located in the refrigerated section. The type of skin you choose depends on what texture you’re trying to achieve and how you want to cook the dumplings.
Wonton wrappers are usually square in shape and a deep yellow colour. This is because most wonton wrappers are made with egg, giving it both colour and a more chewy texture. Check the label, sometimes they don’t use egg and just use food colouring to give it it’s distinctive yellow. The brand I used didn’t have egg in it, but got it’s yellow colour from food colouring. Which makes these vegan dumplings as well.
Wonton wrappers can be deep fried, steamed or boiled. It’s skin will go a deep brown if fried. If steamed or boiled, the skin will get translucent and if cooked right, will have a soft and chewy texture that I really enjoy. Boiling wontons is my preferred method.
Dumpling wrappers come in both yellow and white. While they might look similar to wonton wrappers, they are definitely different. Dumpling skins are thicker than wonton wrappers and so it lends itself to more folding methods as the skin has a bit more pull to it. Dumpling skins can be pan fried, steamed or boiled. This dumpling skin is the easiest to make at home if you want to DIY it.
Lastly gyoza wrappers. These are the Japanese counterpart to the Chinese dumpling skin. Both are similar in how it’s made so you can try making gyoza wrappers at home as well. Where they differ is in size and thickness. Gyoza wrappers are typically smaller than dumpling skins and thinner as well. So much like wonton wrappers, the skin will get translucent after cooking. Gyoza wrappers can be pan fried, steamed or boiled.
Filling for the vegetable wontons
The filling for vegetable wontons is very simple and it’s easy to make. The ingredients for a vegetable dumpling filling typically include cabbage, carrot, ginger, mushroom and spring onions. You can most types of cabbage or mushrooms. I prefer to use Napa cabbage and shitake mushrooms.
Preparing the ingredients is very easy. All you have to do is finely shred the cabbage and carrot. Finely mince the mushrooms and ginger. And then finely slice the spring onions.
To cook the filling, add two tablespoons of sesame oil to a wok or pot and add the ginger cooking for 20 seconds or so till fragrant. Then add the cabbage and mushrooms, cooking till the they start to soften. Both of these ingredients will release quite a bit of water. Stir fry for about two minutes, till most of the water has cooked off. Then add the carrot and spring onion. Finally add soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and pepper (preferably white pepper). Mix everything well and cook for another couple of minutes. Then turn off the heat and let it cool.
How to fill and fold a wonton
There are many wonderful ways to fold dumplings. Some simple and some more complex. I can’t claim expertise in folding dumplings. But luckily for me, wontons are typically easy to fold so it makes life a little easier.
All you have to do is peel one wrapper of the stack. Place it on the palm of your hand, cupping it slightly so as little well forms in the middle. Place about one tablespoon of the vegetable filling in the centre of the square and then seal the dough. Dab a little water around the edges before sealing and make sure you press down on all sides to completely. If you’ve got any open pockets in the dumpling, the filling will come out when cooking it.
There are a few ways to seal wontons. You can fold in half so it forms a rectangle. Or, you can take one corner and fold it over so it forms a triangle. An extra optional step after this would be to take two corners of the triangle and fold them together. Or, you can crimp the skin up and tie it with a chive shoot so it forms a little moneybag.
I often go with the triangle, and if I’m feeling extra fancy, I fold the two triangle corners together so they look like little dumpling soldiers.
This recipe should yield 60 dumplings. Cooked dumplings don’t keep well so I recommend cooking only what you need. Uncooked dumplings can be kept frozen for three to six months. You most likely will have leftover dumpling filling, you can keep this in the fridge for a couple of days. I recommend using it up in a fried rice or stir fry.
Another tip is don’t place the wontons on top of each other, cooked or raw, as they while stick together and then tear apart when you try to separate them.
How to cook a veggie wonton?
You can dep fry, boil or steam veggie wontons. My preferred method is to boil them. It’s just feels more healthy and wholesome this way. Plus, it’s quick.
All you have to do is bring a pot of water to a boil and then drop the wontons in and cook them for approximately two minutes. Don’t overcrowd the pot and do it in batches. And keep a close eye out on the dumplings. Overcooking wontons will leave you with soggy and unappetising wontons.
Much like pasta, you want to cook the wontons al dente so they still have a little bit of a bite and chew. It’s easy to tell when the wontons are cooked. Just look to see if the skin has got translucent and you can see the filling through the skin.
What to serve with vegetable wontons?
There are many ways to enjoy dumplings. You can serve them with a bowl of noodles. You can serve them with a clear broth i.e. wonton soup. Or you can simply have them by itself as an appetiser.
Whatever the method, in my opinion wontons are not complete with chilli oil. My absolute favourite chilli oil is the Lee Kum Kee Chiu Chow Chilli Oil. It’s spicy, garlicky, chewy chilli oil filled with texture and flavour. It’s so hard to describe the goodness of this chilli oil! I’m currently working on my homemade version but in the meantime I implore you to go get yourself a bottle of this chilli oil for yourselves.
The way I’ve served it is to add the dumplings to a bowl. I’ve poured over a dumpling sauce which is a mixture of equal parts sesame oil, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. And then poured some chilli oil over, making sure to get both the oil and the chewy garlicky chilli bits as well. So simple but so good!
More from B’s Bites
Hope you enjoy! If you tried this recipe, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
- Store bought wonton wrappers (about 60 wrappers)
- 1/4 cabbage head
- 1 carrot
- 3cm ginger
- 2 cups shitake mushrooms (dried or fresh)
- 2 stalks spring onion
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- Pepper to taste (Approx. 1/2 teaspoon and preferably white pepper)
- Take dumpling wrappers out of the freezer to defrost while you get everything else ready.
- Finely shred the cabbage and carrot.
- Finely mince the ginger and mushroom. If using dried shitake mushrooms, you'll have to soak it in water for five minutes before using.
- Finely slice the spring onion.
- Add the sesame oil to a wok or pot. Add the ginger, frying for 20 or so seconds till aromatic. Then add the cabbage and mushrooms.
- Cook till the cabbage and mushroom has softened and till most of the water has cooked out.
- Add the carrots and spring onion, mixing well.
- Add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and pepper and mix well.
- Cook for another couple of minutes and then turn the heat off and let the mixture cool.
- Take one dumpling wrapper at a time, laying it in the palm of your hands and cupping slightly so a well forms in the middle.
- Place about one tablespoon of the mixture in the middle of the wrapper.
- Dab half of the wrapper with water and then fold over in half or take one corner and fold into a triangle.
- Press down on all sides, making sure there are no gaps or holes.
- Keep going until you've run out of wrappers or filling. You should get 60 wontons from this recipe.
- To cook the wontons, bring a pot of water to a boil and drop the wontons in. Do it in batches, don't overcrowd the wontons.
- Boil for about two to three minutes. You'll know it's cooked when the skin starts to look translucent and you can see the filling through the skin.
- Take them out and serve them fresh with chilli oil and dumpling sauce.
You can use any type of cabbage or mushroom. Cooked dumplings don't keep well so I recommend cooking what you need. Uncooked dumplings can be kept frozen for 3 to 6 months. You most likely will have leftover dumpling filling, you can keep this in the fridge for a couple of days. Use it up in a fried rice or stir fry. Don't place the wontons on top of each other, cooked or raw, they may stick together and then tear apart when you try to separate them.