Sesame Dumplings

by Dawn Mischele
0 comment

These dumplings are so crave-worthy, you should probably just make a double batch to start with. Toasted and nutty with a delicious tofu-veggie filling, these sesame Dumplings are almost too good to go into your weekly rotation… almost. Plus, they’re plant-based! Can it get any better?

When I first started developing this recipe, I wanted dumplings that were homogenous in the middle and crisp on the outside. While getting a factory-grade level of homogeneity is not totally feasible in a home kitchen, the steps that I had to take to create the right consistency are the very things that made them so much better. I took an egg roll filling and added a few key ingredients that make these dumplings so much more delicious than the factory-style dumplings I was inspired by. By the time I had finished developing this recipe, my partner had already nominated them as his new go-to special event dinner.

While these aren’t the fastest to make, they are well worth the effort. I’ve truly never had any dumplings quite like these, and I am so excited to share them with you! Make yourself a big plate of these and join me at the table.

Sesame Dumpling Ingredients:

  • Egg Roll Wrappers: I already had some egg roll wrappers in the fridge, so I used those. Be sure you grab the ones that say egg-free if you’d like this recipe to stay vegan-friendly!
  • Extra Firm Tofu: I know most people aren’t the biggest fan of tofu, but I really encourage you to give it a try in this recipe. I’m using 7-8oz tofu (about half of a block). 
  • Cabbage: Cabbage is a central ingredient in a lot of egg roll and dumplings; it provides some crunch in what might otherwise be very uniform in texture. Here I’m using one cup of minced cabbage.
  • Carrots: Aside from adding some beautiful color to the filling, the ⅓ cup of carrots are another common dumpling ingredient.
  • Mushrooms: I’m not the biggest fan of mushrooms, so I’m only using ¼ cup. I chose to use crimini mushrooms here.
  • Onion: Nothing smells better than sauteing onions and garlic together. I’m using ½ cup.
  • Garlic: Three cloves of garlic might not be enough for some, feel free to adjust to taste
  • Tamari: I prefer tamari to soy sauce but you can use either here. I’m using 2 Tablespoons. However, because this is our source of salt in the recipe, you should adjust this to your tastes. 
  • Tahini: The magic secret ingredient to make everything come together is 2 Tablespoons of tahini.
  • Sesame Oil: While you could use a different oil, sesame oil is a natural choice for these Sesame Dumplings.
  • Black Sesame Seeds:  I like the black sesame seeds better than the white ones because of their rich flavor and how beautiful they look in the final dish.
  • (Optional) Ginger: Many dumpling and egg roll fillings call for fresh ginger, but I really don’t prefer ginger so I left it out of my own dumplings. 
  • Vegetable Oil: You’ll only need enough vegetable oil to fry in; if you prefer to spend less time frying, you’ll have to use more oil to fill a larger skillet.

How To Make Sesame Dumplings:

Preparing the Ingredients

  • I highly recommend getting a tofu press. If you have a tofu press, put your tofu in the press on the tightest setting before you begin the rest of the process. By the time you’re ready for the tofu, it’ll be drained enough to use.
  • Prepare your veggies. For a more uniform filling texture, I decided to make everything into very small pieces. This also helps to ensure that none of the vegetables puncture the wrappers in the dumpling-assembly process.
  • Shred the cabbage. I started with one-eighth of a cabbage and worked my way up until I had a cup. Cabbage doesn’t cook down much the way other greens do, so be sure you’re shredding finely! 
  • Ever wonder what the side of your box grater that seems to shred in both directions is for? Me too! I used it for the first time in this recipe to shred my carrots. I honestly don’t know if that’s what it’s designed for, but it worked like a charm! The regular-sized holes you would typically use for cheese are a bit too big for this recipe’s purposes. Shred enough carrots to get ⅓ cup. Carrots release a lot of juice when shredded this way. It’s a good idea to blot them between a clean kitchen towel to get some of the excess moisture out. This will also help reduce cooking time.
  • Mince the onion, again aiming for small uniform pieces. We’re going for a half-cup of minced onion. Now would be a good time to begin preheating your skillet on the stove. I start out on medium-low.
  • Mince the mushrooms into small pieces. You want just a quarter-cup of minced mushrooms.
  • Mince three cloves of garlic, you can also use a Microplane for this.
  • (optional) mince or grate fresh ginger using a Microplane.

Cooking the Filling

  • Add only the mushrooms to a preheated skillet. You don’t need to add any oil yet, as the mushrooms will release some water on their own.
  • Once the mushrooms have darkened and are fragrant and soft, add the onions along with one teaspoon of sesame oil. Stir and allow to become translucent.
  • Add the minced garlic (and optionally, fresh minced ginger) and stir until fragrant. This won’t take very long at all!
  • Add the cabbage and half of a tablespoon of tamari, then stir to combine; leave this until the cabbage softens a bit.
  • Add the carrots and allow to cook off a good portion of moisture.
  • While waiting for the carrots to dry out a bit, take your tofu out of the tofu press. If you have a blender, you can blitz the tofu until it acquires a crumpled texture. If you don’t want to use the blender, a potato masher and a little bit of elbow grease will get the job done too!
  • Once the mixture is looking drier (and likely is smelling pretty good at this point!), you can add the tofu to the mix. Add two tablespoons of tamari and continue to break up the tofu with your spoon. You want to really make sure that everything is pretty fine, with no huge chunks. This will ensure that no one dumpling has more tofu than veggies or vice versa.
  • Once everything is equally distributed and the tofu has absorbed the tamari and cooked a bit, remove the mixture from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Let that sit until it’s cool enough to handle.
  • Once it’s cooled down a little, add two tablespoons of tahini and stir until the mixture starts to stick together. It won’t form one large mass like a dough, but it should stick to itself enough to be plopped on the wrappers without crumbling into a mess. 

Forming the Dumplings

  • I like to begin by getting organized. Use a huge cutting board to make your dumplings on. I like to set up the wonton wrappers on the work surface, have the filling and a tablespoon measure handy, a small bowl of water (to help seal the dumplings shut), a pastry brush, and a shallow dish of sesame seeds.
  • To begin, lay out two egg roll wrappers. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop some of the filling and place it in one quadrant of the wrapper. You should be able to fit four dumplings on the one wrapper
  • Once you have the filling on the bottom wrapper, use a pastry brush to dampen the second wrapper. You don’t want them to be soaking wet, just damp enough to seal. 
  • Lay the dampened wonton wrapper over the wrapper with the filling on it. 
  • Using the palm of your hand, gently flatten the mountains of filling into molehills that the second wrapper can fit over. 
  • Seal the dumplings by pressing the wrappers together on all four sides of each dumpling. Before you seal the last edge, try and coax out some of the excess air to prevent puffing while frying. You’ll likely have to play around with these techniques until you find one that works for you! And remember: the goal is to make sure that all the filling stays on the inside, past that, looks are just a bonus!
  • Using a small paring knife, trim the excess or unmatching sides. You should now have four separate dumplings.

Garnishing and Frying

  • We have two options now: sesame seeds on the top or the bottom? If you want them to look super pretty, and have fewer sesame seeds, I recommend the top. If you’re going for ultra-toasty, super-crunch-tastic dumplings, go for sesames on the bottom!
  • Brush the desired side with a damp pastry brush and turn the dumpling into the shallow dish of sesame seeds. Feel free to move to the sprinkle-on method if the dunking isn’t effective. If you’re still having trouble getting the seeds to stick, you may want to try using a little more water.
  • Once you have all your lovely little dumplings ready, get to frying. As I mentioned before, I prefer to fry in small batches, but do what makes you happy (and safe!). To fry, simply pour oil in a pan and bring to medium heat. Place the dumpling in the hot oil, and wait until the edges begin to get golden. Flip and repeat for the following side. Keep a close eye! As with frying anything, they can burn faster than one might expect. When the dumpling is done, place it on a plate lined with a paper towel. Fry the whole batch, and devour as soon as they’re cool enough! Wow, so good, right?

Notes:

  • If you don’t have a tofu press, you can wrap the tofu in some clean dish towels, place some heavy books on top, and wait for a few hours. You can speed the process up slightly by putting the tofu in the microwave for a few minutes to draw out some moisture before leaving the tofu to drain. However, this method takes a really long time, creates a lot of laundry, and puts your heavy books at risk of getting damp. Better to just buy a tofu press if you ask me!
  • Tahini can be a little tricky to find, but it’s well worth it! Plus you can use it in plenty of other things too, from homemade hummus to sweet and savory desserts! If you absolutely must, you can look for a substitution, but I really strongly recommend picking up some tahini for this recipe and beyond!
  • If you can’t find black sesame seeds, you can substitute for the white ones, and trust me, you’ll definitely want to participate in this finishing touch! The sesame seeds really make these dumplings amazing.

Need even more plant-based goodness in your life? Get the scoop:

Yield: 15 Dumplings

Sesame Dumplings

Sesame Dumplings

These dumplings are so crave-worthy, you should probably just make a double batch to start with. Toasted and nutty with a delicious tofu-veggie filling, these sesame Dumplings are almost too good to go into your weekly rotation… almost. Plus, they’re plant-based! Can it get any better?

Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • Egg Roll Wrappers
  • 1/2 Block of Extra Firm Tofu
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup minced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup minced onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 Tablespoon Tabari
  • 2 Tablespoons Tahini
  • (Optional) Fresh Ginger to taste
  • 1 to 2 Teaspoons of Sesame oil
  • 1/8th Cup Black Sesame Seeds
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

Preparing the Ingredients

  1. I highly recommend getting a tofu press. If you have a tofu press, put your tofu in the press on the tightest setting before you begin the rest of the process. By the time you’re ready for the tofu, it’ll be drained enough to use. If you don’t have a tofu press, you can wrap it in some clean dish towels, place some heavy books on top, and wait for a few hours. You can speed the process up slightly by putting the tofu in the microwave for a few minutes to draw out some moisture before leaving the tofu to drain. However, this method takes a really long time, creates a lot of laundry, and puts your heavy books at risk of getting damp. Better to just buy a tofu press if you ask me!
  2. Prepare your veggies. For a more uniform filling texture, I decided to make everything be in very small pieces. This also helps to ensure that none of the vegetables puncture the wrappers in the dumpling-assembly process.
  3. Shred the cabbage. I started with one-eighth of a cabbage and worked my way up until I had a cup. Cabbage doesn’t cook down much the way other greens do, so be sure you’re shredding finely! 
  4. Ever wonder what the side of your box grater that seems to shred in both directions is for? Me too! I used it for the first time in this recipe to shred my carrots. I honestly don’t know if that’s what it’s designed for, but it worked like a charm! The regular-sized holes you would typically use for cheese are a bit too big for this recipe’s purposes. Shred enough carrots to get ⅓ cup. Carrots release a lot of juice when shredded this way. It’s a good idea to blot them between a clean kitchen towel to get some of the excess moisture out. This will also help reduce cooking time.
  5. Mince the onion, again aiming for small uniform pieces. We’re going for a half-cup of minced onion. Now would be a good time to begin preheating your skillet on the stove. I start out on medium-low.
  6. Mince the mushrooms into small pieces. You want just a quarter-cup of minced mushrooms.
  7. Mince three cloves of garlic, you can also use a Microplane for this.
  8. (optional) mince or grate fresh ginger using a Microplane.

Cooking the Filling

  1. Add only the mushrooms to a preheated skillet. You don’t need to add any oil yet, as the mushrooms will release some water on their own.
  2. Once the mushrooms have darkened and are fragrant and soft, add the onions along with one teaspoon of sesame oil. Stir and allow to become translucent.
  3. Add the minced garlic (and optionally, fresh minced ginger) and stir until fragrant. This won’t take very long at all!
  4. Add the cabbage and half of a tablespoon of tamari, then stir to combine; leave this until the cabbage softens a bit.
  5. Add the carrots and allow to cook off a good portion of moisture.
  6. While waiting for the carrots to dry out a bit, take your tofu out of the tofu press. If you have a blender and are willing to do a few extra dishes, you can blitz the tofu until it acquires a crumpled texture. It will likely go back and forth between crumbs and reform into a lump. This is totally fine, we’re just looking to break it up enough to do the rest with our spoon in the skillet. If you don’t want to use the blender, a potato masher and a little bit of elbow grease will get the job done too!
  7. Once the mixture is looking like it dried out a little (and likely is smelling pretty good at this point!), you can add the tofu to the mix. Add two tablespoons of tamari and continue to break up the tofu with your spoon. You want to really make sure that everything is pretty fine, with no huge chunks. This will ensure that no one dumpling has more tofu than veggies or vice versa.
  8. Once everything is equally distributed and the tofu has absorbed the tamari and cooked a bit, remove the mixture from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl. Let that sit until it’s cool enough to handle.
  9. Once it’s cooled down a little, add two tablespoons of tahini and stir until the mixture starts to stick together. It won’t form one large mass like a dough, but it should stick to itself enough to be plopped on the wrappers without crumbling into a mess. 

Forming the Dumplings

  1. I like to begin by getting organized. I don’t have the best counters in my apartment so I make my dumplings on a huge cutting board, but if you have granite or marble counters you can likely make them directly on that. Either way clear a work surface. I like to set up the wonton wrappers on the work surface, have the filling and a tablespoon measure handy, a small bowl of water (to help seal the dumplings shut), a pastry brush, and a shallow dish of sesame seeds. Getting everything prepared beforehand spares you the chaos and panic of realizing you need something while your hands are full, and aids you in making the dumplings more efficiently. 
  2. To begin, lay out two egg roll wrappers. Using a tablespoon measure, scoop some of the filling and place it in one quadrant of the wrapper. You should be able to fit four dumplings on the one wrapper. 
  3. Once you have the filling on the bottom wrapper, use a pastry brush to dampen the second wrapper. You don’t want them to be soaking wet, just damp enough to seal. 
  4. Accept that your first dumplings will be ugly and might fall apart a little bit.
  5. Lay the dampened wonton wrapper over the wrapper with the filling on it. 
  6. Using the palm of your hand, gently flatten the mountains of filling into molehills that the second wrapper can fit over. 
  7. Seal the dumplings by pressing the wrappers together on all four sides of each dumpling. Before you seal the last edge, try and coax out some of the excess air to prevent puffing while frying. You’ll likely have to play around with these techniques until you find one that works for you! And remember: the goal is to make sure that all the filling stays on the inside, past that, looks are just a bonus!
  8. Using a small paring knife, trim the excess or unmatching sides. /you should now have four separate dumplings.
  9. We have two options now: sesame seeds on the top or the bottom? If you want them to look super pretty, and have fewer sesame seeds, I recommend the top. If you’re going for ultra-toasty, super-crunch-tastic dumplings, go for sesames on the bottom! Decided? Let’s get started! 
  10. Brush the desired side with a damp pastry brush and turn the dumpling into the shallow dish of sesame seeds. Feel free to move to the sprinkle-on method if the dunking isn’t effective. If you’re still having trouble getting the seeds to stick, you may want to try using a little more water.
  11. Once you have all your lovely little dumplings ready, get to frying. As I mentioned before, I prefer to fry in small batches, but do what makes you happy (and safe!). To fry, simply pour oil in a pan and bring to a medium heat. Place the dumpling in the hot oil, and wait until the edges begin to get golden. Flip and repeat for the following side. Keep a close eye! As with frying anything, they can burn faster than one might expect. When the dumpling is done, place it on a plate lined with a paper towel. Fry the whole batch, and devour as soon as they’re cool enough! Wow, so good, right? 

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