Food is a great reason to bring people together. For both everyday occasions and celebrations, I love hosting dinners and potlucks. It’s a way to connect with friends, family, and community. In addition to eating together, I really enjoy preparing food with others. These vegetarian dumplings with ginger and cabbage are a great way to do all of these things.
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What’s the Difference Between Dumplings, Potstickers and Gyoza?
Dumplings are the umbrella category of bite sized stuffed pockets of dough in Asian cuisine.
In Chinese cuisine, potstickers and wonton are most common. Potstickers are typically fried while wonton are boiled and served in soup. In addition to different kinds of wrappers, they also have different shapes. Potstickers are often crescent shaped while wonton are more round.
Similar to Chinese potstickers are Japanese gyoza. Their shapes are similar as are their preparations. Gyoza are steamed and pan fried for a crispy skin and tender filling.
How To Make Dumplings
In my family, dumpling making is a communal activity. We set aside a day (or more) to prepare the filling and dough, then wrap, cook and freeze dumplings for later. It’s an opportunity to catch up with my mom, share stories, or put on a Chinese soap opera for entertainment. Setting up a dumpling wrapping station is key!
Don’t let the wrappers or pleating intimidate you. Store bought wrappers are an excellent option. They’re always available from Asian markets, and I’ve even found them in larger supermarkets. Typically, you’ll find them in the refrigerated section. Look for round wrappers for this style of vegetarian dumplings, but square ones will work too.
There are many ways to wrap these vegetarian dumplings. I tend to fold mine in a style characteristic of Japanese gyoza, check out this quick video for a folding tutorial. If crimping isn’t your style, you can always just seal the edges.
Vegetarian Dumplings with Ginger and Cabbage
Dumplings are considered an auspicious food to eat for Chinese New Year. They represent wealth and prosperity in the new year because they’re shaped like traditional Chinese money.
Traditional Chinese dumplings often use pork, beef or shrimp, or a combination of these meats. While vegetables such as chives are used in many traditional dumplings, a strictly vegetarian dumpling is rare.
Yet vegetarian dumplings are equally delicious! These vegetable dumplings are no exception. With crunchy cabbage, sweet carrots, and spicy ginger, they’re the perfect snack, side, or appetizer.
Plus, the easy dipping sauce makes a lovely complement to these vegetable potstickers. The black vinegar(<-affiliate) brings acidity without the harshness of other vinegars. Chiu chow chili oil (<-affiliate) adds a warm, smoky heat. Finally, the toasted sesame oil combines a fragrant, warm flavor to bring it all together.
Looking for more dumplings? Check out these sweet potato apple dumplings!
Vegetarian Dumplings with Ginger and Cabbage
These pan fried Chinese vegetarian dumplings with ginger and cabbage are paired with an easy dipping sauce recipe. The perfect way to celebrate Chinese New Year.
For the filling
- 1/2 head cabbage
- 3 carrots
- 1 small onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 inch piece of peeled ginger (see note)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
For assembling and cooking the vegetarian dumplings
- 1 package round dumpling wrappers
- 4 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
- 1 cup water, divided
Cook the filling
Combine cabbage, carrot, onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor. Sprinkle in salt and white pepper. Process until ingredients are finely chopped.
Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil over medium heat in a large nonstick pan. Add the chopped vegetables and cook until vegetables are tender and any liquid has evaporated.
Pour in tamari, rice vinegar and toasted sesame oil. Stir well to combine ingredients.
Remove from heat and let cool to assemble dumplings.
Assemble the dumplings
Keep the wrappers covered with a wet paper towel and remove one wrapper at a time. It's helpful to have a little dish of water (about 1/4 cup) on the side to help seal the wrappers.
Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling into the center of a wrapper.
Use your finger to wet the edges of the wrapper with water.
Fold wrapper in half to create a little pocket and pinch the edge of the wrappers together. Working from one side to the other, pleat the wrapper with small, accordion folds until the dumpling sealed. You can pinch the pleats together to ensure they stay closed.
Place on a parchment lined tray and cover with a wet paper towel. The parchment reduces sticking and the paper towel prevents them from drying out while you’re wrapping more dumplings.
Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
Cook the dumplings
Heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of peanut or sunflower oil. Place dumplings in the pan and let fry about 3 to 4 minutes.
Pour a few tablespoons of water into the pan until the bottom is just covered, exact amount will depend on the size of your pan. Cover with lid and reduce heat to low. Let the dumplings steam for 4 to 5 minutes, until the water has evaporated.
Remove cover, increase heat to medium, and let fry another 1 to 2 minutes until dumplings are golden and crisp.
Repeat with remaining dumplings, frying in batches.
Mix together dipping sauce ingredients and serve alongside dumplings.
To remove the peel from fresh ginger, scrape the root with the back of a spoon! I tend to use close to 2 tablespoons of ginger because I love the heat and flavor. Be sure to use an oil with a high smoke point such as peanut, sunflower, or light sesame oil as these will be best for pan frying. Learn more about different cooking oils and the smoke points of oils here. If you’re having trouble getting your wrappers to stay closed, you can mix a teaspoon of cornstarch or flour into your water and make a slurry solution. Feel free to play with the dipping sauce. This smoky Chiu Chow chili oil (<-affiliate) is my favorite but sambal oelek (<-affiliate) is good too.
While the filling of these ginger cabbage dumplings is vegan, the wrappers I used were not. Most commercially available dumpling wrappers contain egg and/or egg whites. Substitute rice paper wrappers or make your own with flour and water (see below).
Purchase gluten free wrappers or rice paper wrappers to keep this recipe gluten free. Or try the wrapper recipe from The Gluten-Free Asian Kitchen.
I alternate between making the dumpling dough from The Woks of Life and using store bought wrappers. Homemade dough is amazing! Remember to let it rest 1 to 2 hours before rolling out and wrapping. The store bought wrappers are ready to go which is so convenient. Plus, they freeze well if you don’t use the whole package.
Check the Fridge
Any kind of cabbage is great in this recipe. I used a beautiful purple savoy cabbage but traditional recipes typically call for napa cabbage. Mushrooms are good additions to this dumpling, especially shiitake or oyster. Mushrooms add a lot of moisture so be sure to strain the cooked vegetables before wrapping. For additional flavor, add chives or garlic chives. Carnivores can add 1/4 to 1/2 pound of ground pork and mix it in with the strained, cooked vegetables. Add the raw meat and gently combine until just mixed. Then assemble the dumpling. Be sure not to overwork the ground meat otherwise it will get tough when cooked.
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