Chinese Dumplings with Tofu and Chives
Every culture has comfort food. This is mine. Especially when served with a bowl of jook (rice porridge) drizzled with soy sauce as I did today.
I have fond memories of my Mom making dumplings when I was growing up. She’d make the dough and use a metal tortilla press to flatten them perfectly. Every now and then she’d let me hold onto the handle and give it a go. She always had to do it the rest of the way (that thing took muscles!) and I delighted in our combined efforts.
As an adult, I’ve always purchased my dumpling skins, settling for the wonton wrappers found in the refrigerated aisle of the grocery store. They’re far thinner than the thick dumpling skins my Mom used to make or the kind you’ll find in a Chinese restaurant. But they were easy to use and required zero muscle so they fit the bill. However, as a vegan, those are no longer an option since they’re almost always made with eggs. And so I’ve come full-circle back to making my dumplings the way Mom used to make them. And oh, how good they are! Vegan, thick and doughy. YUM!
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus flour for rolling
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup WARM water
- 1/2 container firm tofu, drained and mashed
- handful of chives, minced
- 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 1-2 tbsp soy sauce, to taste
- salt and pepper
First, make the dough. Sift together the flour and salt in a bowl. Slowly stir in the warm water, kneading constantly, until it’s smooth and workable. You can knead on a floured surface if that’s easier than inside the bowl. Cover with a towel and let it rest for 20 minutes.
While you wait, make the filling. Mash the tofu in a bowl with a potato masher or fork. Add in the chives, garlic, soy sauce and salt and pepper to taste. Then set aside.
Take the dough and roll a half of it out on a floured surface. If you have a tortilla press like my Mom did, then by all means, use it. Just take a 1-inch ball of dough, roll it well, then place it in the center of the press and push until well-flattened. Sadly, my Mom bequeathed her tortilla press to my big brother (maybe I can convince him to give it up) and so I was left to roll these the long-handed way… with a pastry roller. Anyway, roll that half of the dough to your desired thickness and then cut into 3 x 3-inch squares with a pastry cutter or a simple sharp knife.
Keep re-rolling the scraps of dough and continuing to cut it into squares as you would with cookie-cutter cookies. Then repeat with the other half of the dough until done. The dough yielded about 30 skins for me.
Fill a small bowl with warm water where you’ll be working to assemble your dumplings. Then place a small scoop of the tofu mixture into the center of a skin. Dip your finger into the warm water and line each edge of the skin with water to moisten it.
Then lift opposite corners of the skin to meet at an apex at the top and push together to seal.
Next, seal the two sides of the dumpling.
Using your fingers to gather and pinch, begin scrunching a scalloped edge to each side.
You can make them in the traditional dumpling shape or you can make them into little “purses.”
Once you’ve wrapped all your dumplings, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with a little oil. Place the dumplings down in a single layer and heat until the bottoms are golden brown.
Then pour 1/4 cup water into the pan, cover, and let steam until the water is completely gone, about 5-8 minutes. Check them every now and then to make sure they don’t overcook. Remove and serve with a dipping sauce. I used a sweet chili sauce.
And here’s an additional hint. If you have any leftovers of the tofu-chive mixture, saute it until browned and serve over jook as I did, or make a breakfast scramble with it the next morning!
Hope you enjoy these Chinese dumplings as my Mom used to make them.