These vegan mushroom dumplings are bursting with savory flavour. Shiitake mushrooms impart a rich, distinct flavour, while wood ear fungus add texture and napa cabbage and carrots give the dumplings juicy sweetness. The ingredients are pretty common in vegetarian Chinese cooking, but for good reason. These dumplings are perfect as a dish for dim sum or just keep them in your freezer for convenient any-time snack.
Dumplings are my favourite food group, and for me, it is an essential food group. More than just for eating, dumplings represent time spent with family, laughing and teasing, seeing who had the best dumpling wrapping skills. Mine were never the nicest but it was almost more fun to see my little deformed pieces of dough and filling turn into plump, cooked morsels of deformed deliciousness. Dumplings impart an important lesson: Looks don’t matter, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Video Tutorial for Mushroom Dumplings: Boiled, Steamed, and Pan-fried
To start, you’ll need some dumpling wrappers. Some supermarkets will have them in the refrigerated section with other “Asian” foods like tofu and fresh noodles. Unfortunately, most of the brands available in local stores near me are not vegan-friendly and contain egg ingredients. If you can’t find pre-made vegan wrappers or if you just prefer homemade, try my easy recipe for dumpling wrappers. It’s really easy and requires only hot water, all-purpose flour and some corn or potato starch to separate the wrappers.
This vegan recipe uses shiitake mushroom for its rich flavour and a large portobello for it’s hearty texture. You can really use any other mushrooms you like but for this recipe, I really like this combination best.
The perfect dumpling has some texture to it so I’ve added some wood ear fungus. It’s not the most appetizing name for a food, but it’s good stuff. Wood ear fungus is a type of mushroom that grows on trees. The cooked fungus has a slightly crunchy texture but a very mild flavour. It tends take on the flavour of the other ingredients around it. You can find it dehydrated in Asian markets or the Asian food aisle in major supermarkets. They are easily re-hydrated in 10-15 minutes by soaking in hot just-boiled water.
Napa cabbage and grated carrot add sweetness and juiciness to the dumpling. Some of the moisture is cooked out of the filling first so that the dumplings don’t drip as we wrap them.
There are many different traditional ways of wrapping up a dumpling. For dumplings that will be pan-fried and steamed like potstickers, I like the pleated half-moon. This is the type of wrapping you usually see in gyozas as well. The filling is placed in the middle of a round dumpling wrapper, a bit of water is traced along the edges and the two halves are folded together and pinched lightly at the middle top. Then, starting on one corner, one layer is pleated then pinched to the other side which stays smooth. This is repeated along the edge until the dumpling is completely sealed.
For boiled or steamed dumplings, I prefer a shape similiar to tortellini known as a “flowerbud.” To make it, use a square wrapper and place some filling in the middle. Trace the edges with a tiny bit of water. Be careful not to use too much water. I usually just dip my finger in a dish of water and flick off the excess before tracing. Then fold the dough, one corner to the opposite diagonal corner, to make a triangle shape. Press out any air pockets. Pinch the edges together firmly to seal. Then fold the bottom half up and cross the two ends together and pinch in the middle. This reminds me of a person crossing their arms. Sometimes I tuck in the corners as if they were arms crossing each other too.
Don’t worry if your dumplings don’t look perfect; it takes practice to make pretty looking dumplings. It takes even more practice to wrap them quickly. This is why making dumplings in Asian households are usually a family affair. Dumplings are quick to gobble down but do take some time to prepare. More hands makes the work go by more quickly and more enjoyably.
How to Boil, Steam, or Pan-Fry Dumplings
These dumplings can be steamed, boiled, or pan-fried. I’m sure that you could even deep-fry them, though I have not tried that with this recipe.
Boiling dumplings (wontons) is the easiest and simplest method. Just bring some water in a pot to boil, then add the dumplings. The water will simmer down immediately. Keep cooking over high heat and wait for the water to come to a rolling boil again. Then add a cup of cold water and wait for the water to come to a boil a second time. Now the dumplings should be done and should be floating at the top. This is the same method for frozen dumplings too.
To steam, line your steamer with parchment paper or grease with oil. Steam over high heat for 10 minutes. If you are steaming from frozen, it takes about 15 minutes, depending on how many you’re steaming at once and how large your dumplings are. Sometimes, I’ll use a toothpick to check for doneness. I insert a toothpick into the middle of a dumpling and leave it for a few seconds. Then I take it out and press the toothpick against my lips to check the temperature. When the toothpick comes out super hot, your dumplings are done.
To pan-fry the dumplings (guōtiē or jiānjiǎo), heat a teaspoon of oil in a large pan over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add your dumplings with the bottom flat side down. Cook for a minute or until the bottoms are nicely golden. Add some water and immediately cover with a vented lid. I don’t have a lid large enough so I just used an upside down pan. Let this steam for a few minutes until the top of the dumpling dough looks cooked and most of the water has evaporated; they will take on an opaque quality and you will start to hear the water crackling as last bits of water escapes. Uncover the lid and leave the dumplings in the pan just long enough for the water to cook off and for the bottoms to become crisp again. Remove them with a spatula.
I used a nonstick pan so it was very easy to remove the potstickers. However if you’re not using one, you can use a metal spatula to un-stick the dumplings if needed.
This method does involve a bit more work, but it’s my favourite. I love the juicy soft fillings bursting from soft and chewy dumpling wrappers with crispy bottoms. Especially with a bit of sweet soy sauce, a dab of tangy vinegar, and some hot chili oil.
When I make dumplings, I try to make as many as I can. Once wrapped, you can freeze them on a parchment-lined baking sheet for an hour to make them solid, then put them in freezer bags, label and store for later. They will keep for one to three months in the freezer. Longer than that and the flavours may not stay as fresh.
Printable Recipe for Mushroom Dumplings 3 Ways
- 24 dumpling wrappers (3 - 4" diameter & 1 - 2 mm thick), round or square
- 3 cups shredded napa cabbage [200g]
- 1/3 cup grated carrot (about one medium carrot) [100g]
- 1/4 cup shredded dried wood ear fungus [2g]
- 1 portobello mushroom, chopped (about 1 cup) [100g]
- 1 dried shiitake mushroom [4g]
- 1 tablespoon chopped scallion (green onion) [15cc]
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- juice from 1 teaspoon [5cc] of minced ginger
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- Optional seasonings: soy sauce, white pepper, and roasted sesame oil, to taste
- First rehydrate the shiitake mushroom and wood ear fungus. Place them in a large bowl and pour over hot boiling water. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, cook the napa cabbage and portobello mushroom. Heat a large pan over high heat. When it is hot, add the chopped cabbage and mushroom. Add a sprinkle of salt. Cook while stirring regularly until the cabbage is soft and the mushroom has reduced in size.
- Add the ginger juice and garlic and mix well. Take a bit, cool it off and taste. Adjust for salt and add other seasonings such as white pepper, soy sauce, and roasted sesame oil if desired.
- Let any excess moisture cook away and remove from heat.
- When the shiitake and wood ear fungus is soft, drain and discard the soaking water or reserve to use in another dish. Remove the tough stem from the shiitake and chop into small pieces. Roughly chop the wood ear fungus.
- Combine the cooked napa cabbage and portobello mushroom with the shiitake mushroom, wood ear fungus, scallion, garlic and ginger juice. Mix well. Add salt or soy sauce to season. Taste to adjust.
- Add cornstarch to absorb the excess moisture. Mix well.
- Prepare a tray to hold the wrapped dumplings and a dish of plain water.
- Place about one rounded teaspoon of filling in the middle of a dumpling wrapper. Dip a clean finger into the water, flick off any excess, and trace the edges of the wrapper to slightly moisten.
- To make the pleated half-moon with round wrappers, place the wrapping on your left palm. Cup slightly to bring up the sides of the wrapper to make a half-moon shape. Use your right hand to pinch together the dough at the wides point of the cresent. Then starting from one corner, make a pleat with one side of the dough and pinch it to the smooth side. Continue pleating and pinching along the edge to the other corner. Refer to this video for more (click here).
- To make the tortelini-like "flowerbud" shape with square wrappers, place the wrapper with filling on a flat surface. Fold one corner to the opposite diagonal corner and press to seal. Use your thumbs to press out any air pockets around the filling and press to seal the edges. With the largest angle pointing up away from you, fold the bottom half of the dumpling up, bring the two sides together, overlapping and pinch to seal. Refer to this video for more (click here).
- Once finished, you can cook the dumplings right away or freeze for later use.
- Prepare a parchment-lined baking sheet. Optionally, dust with cornstarch to prevent sticking.
- Place the dumplings on the sheet. Space them out so that they don't touch.
- Freeze for one hour or until solid.
- Remove from the sheet before placing in labelled and dated freezer bags. Frozen dumplings will keep in the freezer for up to three months.
- Bring a large pot of water or broth to a rolling boil over high heat. Add the fresh or frozen dumplings. Continue to cook until the water comes back to a rapid boil. Add one cup of cold water or broth. Continue to cook until the water comes back to a rolling boil for a second time and the dumplings are floating at the top. Remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon and serve immediately.
- Prepare your steaming apparatus and heat the water to a boil over high heat. Line the steaming basket with parchment paper or grease with oil to prevent sticking. If using parchment paper, poke some holes in it to allow the steam to pass through. Place the dumplings on the prepared steaming basket, leaving some room between each one for expansion.
- Steam over high heat for about 10 minutes for fresh dumplings. For frozen dumplings, steam for 15 - 20 minutes. Check for doneness by inserting a toothpick, letting it rest for a couple seconds, remove and feel the toothpick. If the toothpick comes out very hot, the center of the dumplings are hot and are done. If it is cold or only warm to the touch, the dumplings aren't hot in the middle yet and should be steamed for longer.
- Serve immediately.
- Heat a small amount of oil in a large pan over medium high heat. When hot, add the dumplings with the flat bottom side down. Ensure that each dumpling gets some oil on the bottom. Fry for about one to two minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.
- Add water to steam the dumplings. If cooking fresh dumplings, only a few tablespoons are needed. Add the water, then cover with a vented lid. Let steam for 5 minutes or until the water is almost completely evaporated. Uncover and let the rest of the water cook off until the bottoms of the dumplings are crispy again. You can remove them immediate to serve or turn the dumplings so fry them a bit on all sides.
- If cooking frozen dumplings, add enough water to cover the dumplings about halfway. Cover with a vented lid and cook until most of the water has evaporated. You'll be able to tell when it starts to crackle loudly. Uncover and let the rest of the water cook off until the bottoms of the dumplings are crispy again. You can remove them immediate to serve or turn the dumplings so fry them a bit on all sides.
- All ingredient amounts are approximate. Please feel free to adjust to your tastes!