These smoky tofu dumplings are pan-fried to a delicious crisp and served with spicy sweet chili dipping sauce. A show stealing vegan appetizer that everyone will love!
These dumplings are a vegan spin on some pork dumplings that I accidentally took a bite of at a Thai restaurant. Apparently the Thai word for “vegetable” is similar to “pork.” Or maybe the English word “vegetable” sounds like “pork” in Thai? I’m not sure, but in any event, I had myself one of those accidents while dining out.
I made some tofu dumplings in order to make myself feel better. And I decided to make the tofu nice and smoky and savory, just like a pork dumpling, but better because it’s vegan!
What You’ll Need
For the Dumplings
- Oil. Any high-heat variety should work. Try peanut, vegetable or canola oil.
- Tofu. You’ll want to use firm or extra-firm.
- Soy sauce. Tamari or liquid aminos work as well!
- Liquid smoke. Look for this near the barbecue sauces at your supermarket. Can’t find it? Try a little smoked paprika instead. You can also skip this if you’re no a fan.
- Wonton wrappers. Check the ingredients to ensure the ones you use are vegan. I used Dynasty brand (found at Wegmans). If you can’t find vegan ones, try making your own using this vegan wonton wrapper recipe.
For the Sauce
- Sambal oelek. Look for this type of chili paste in the international foods section of the supermarket.
- Maple syrup. Or use another liquid sweetener, like agave.
- Rice vinegar. White vinegar can be subbed if you don’t have this on hand.
- Sesame seeds. These are optional — just a nice garnish!
How to Make Tofu Dumplings
The following is a detailed photo tutorial on how to make this dish. Scroll down if you’d prefer to skip right to the recipe!
Make the Filling
- To make the filling, heat up some oil in a skillet, then add minced garlic, grated ginger, chopped scallions, and diced carrots. Sauté everything just until the carrots begin to soften up.
- Now crumble in some tofu. Tip: freezing and then thawing your tofu before cooking will give it a nice crumbly texture. You can find more details on tofu freezing in this tofu taco recipe.
- Cook the tofu for a few minutes, stirring it often, until it begins to dry and crisp in spots.
- Now add your soy sauce and liquid smoke. Continue cooking everything just until the liquid dries up.
Stuff the Dumplings
- Fill a small bowl with water. Now dip your finger in the water and lightly wet the edges of a wonton wrapper — this will help it to seal!
- Spoon a bit of filling over the center of the wrapper.
- Fold the wrapper over the filling, making a triangle shape.
- Gently press to seal the edges of the dumpling.
Fry the Dumplings
- Heat up some oil in a skillet. You want to very generously coat the bottom — this means about ⅛ inch of oil.
- Give the oil a minute to heat up, then add a few dumplings. Make sure you’ve got plenty of room in the skillet — if the dumplings touch each other they’ll probably stick together.
- Fry the dumplings for a few minutes on each side, until they’re lightly browned and crispy.
- Transfer the dumplings to a paper towel-lined plate to drain when they’re done cooking.
- Now stir your sauce ingredients together in a bowl and serve your dumplings with the sauce. Enjoy!
Tofu Dumpling Tips & FAQ
- Can these dumplings be made gluten-free? Sure! Substitute gluten-free tamari for the soy sauce and use vegan gluten-free wonton wrappers.
- Shelf-life & storage. These dumplings will keep in the fridge for about 3 days, or in the freezer for about 3 months. To reheat, thaw (if frozen), then pop them into a 400°F oven until hot.
- Where can I find vegan wonton wrappers? You might luck out and find them at the supermarket (I did!). Otherwise, try an Asian market.
- Don’t feel like making your own sauce? Use bottled! I like Trader Joe’s sweet chili dipping sauce.
- Can these be made without oil? Possibly. The filling could be cooked using a good nonstick surface and a bit of water instead of oil. Instead of frying the dumplings, try steaming them like I did for these tofu potstickers.
More Asian-Inspired Appetizers
- Ginger-Glazed Tofu Meatballs
- Vegetable Spring Rolls
- Tofu & Peach Summer Rolls
- Scallion Pancakes
- Teriyaki Tempeh Meatballs
Smoky Tofu Dumplings with Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
For the Smoky Tofu Dumplings
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more as needed, divided
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 scallion, white and pale green parts, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely diced
- 7 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon liquid smoke
- 20 wonton wrappers*
For the Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce
- ¼ cup sambal oelek
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- A few sesame seeds, for garnish (optional)
Make the Dumplings
- Coat the bottom of a large skillet with 1 ½ teaspoons of oil and place it over medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, add the garlic, ginger, scallion, and carrot to the skillet. Cook everything for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the carrot begins to become tender.
- Crumble the tofu into the skillet and continue to cook everything for about 5 minutes, until the tofu dries up just a bit, flipping occasionally with a spatula.
- Add the soy sauce and liquid smoke to the skillet and flip everything a few times to distribute the ingredients. Continue cooking the mixture for about 5 minutes, until most of the liquid dries up.
- Remove the skillet from heat, taste-test the mixture, and adjust any seasonings to taste.
- Fill a small bowl with water. Set a wonton wrapper on a work surface, then moisten the edges of the wrapper with water.
- Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper, then fold it over the filling, creating a triangle shape. Press to seal.
- Repeat until all of the wrappers and filling are used.
- Wipe out the skillet that you used for the tofu, then generously coat the bottom with oil and place it over medium heat.
- When the oil begins to shimmer, add a few dumplings, being careful not to crowd the skillet.
- Cook the dumplings for about 3 minutes on each side, until crispy.
- Transfer the cooked dumplings to a paper towel-lined plate.
- Repeat until all of the dumplings are cooked, adding oil to the skillet as needed between batches.
Make the Sauce
- Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl. I like to garnish mine with scallions and a few sesame seeds.
- Serve the dumplings with the sweet chili dipping sauce.
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