Jul 252010
There are some things that I would never even consider making myself because it seems completely our of my league.  A few examples–Sushi, marshmallows (although I have a crazy friend who did), fresh pasta, and potstickers.  But, when I was loitering in the whole food’s freezer isle, my go to hang out spot on really hot days, something caught my eye.  Whole wheat dumpling wrappers.  So I thought what the heck, let’s do this.

I used Alton Brown’s recipe for two reasons…1, all the ingredients were appealing, and 2, Deb from Smitten Kitchen used it and she can do no wrong.

The filling consists of carrots, cabbage, tofu (you won’t even notice it if you’re not a tofu fan), red pepper, cilantro, green onions, and ginger.  You mix that together with a mixture of soy, sesame oil, and hoisin sauce.

Now here comes the fun part…and also the disclaimer for this recipe.  This is quite possibly the most labor intensive thing I’ve ever made.  The first few I made were a blast.  Figuring out how to pleat them just right so they look like they do in the restaurants.  But after about 10, and let me tell you this recipe fills A LOT of potstickers, it gets a little old.  

While they were the most labor intensive thing i’ve made in a while, they were also quite possibly the coolest.  The key to making these cute little pleats is using a paper towel to rub a little bit of water around the edge of the wrapper and then fold in half and press together while making small folds.  Ok, so that didn’t make much sense, but it’s kind of a trial and error thing.  You can also make them pleat-less which is way less cool but would cut the time substantially.

The recipe I used calls for steaming, but I don’t have a steamer.  Plus, I love when my dumplings are crispy on the bottom.  So, instead of steaming, I pan fried them for 3 minutes in a little bit of veg oil and then added a little bit of water so they could steam the rest of the way.  The result was perfect.

Nutritional highlights:  Because these are only slightly pan fried, they’re a lot better for you than the fried kind you get in many restaurants.  Also, there’s not mystery ball of pork mush inside like you sometimes find.  This has fresh veggies and tofu in a whole wheat wrapper.  Plus, you burn calories because they take so freakin long to make.  

Vegetarian Dumplings
adapted from Alton Brown


  • 1/2 pound firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup shredded Napa cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Bowl of water, plus additional water for steamer
  • 35 to 40 small wonton wrappers


Cut the tofu in half horizontally and lay between layers of paper towels. Place on a plate, top with another plate, and place a weight on top (a 14-ounce can of vegetables works well). Let stand 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, cut the tofu into 1/4-inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the carrots, cabbage, red pepper, scallions, ginger, cilantro, soy sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, egg, salt, and pepper. Lightly stir to combine.
To form the dumplings, remove 1 wonton wrapper from the package. Brush the edges of the wrapper lightly with water. Place rounded teaspoon of the tofu mixture in the center of the wrapper. Shape as desired. Set on a sheet pan and cover with a damp cloth. Repeat procedure until all of the filling is gone.
Option A (Alton’s way): Using a steaming apparatus of your choice, bring 1/4 to 1/2-inch of water to a simmer over medium heat. Spray the steamer’s surface lightly with the non-stick vegetable spray to prevent sticking. Place as many dumplings as will fit into a steamer, without touching each other. Cover and steam for 10 to 12 minutes over medium heat. Remove the dumplings from the steamer to a heatproof platter and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat until all dumplings are cooked.
Option B (My way):  Let a large frying pan get hot.  Add 1 tablespoon each of vegetable oil and sesame oil.  Put dumplings in the pan, flat side down.  Let them cook undisturbed for about 3 minutes or until lightly browned.  Then add 2 tablespoons of water, reduce heat, and cover.  Cook for about 5 more minutes.  Enjoy!!

  2 Responses to “Vegetable Potstickers”

  1. whole grain wonton wrappers… brilliant! I will definitely look for those on my next grocery trip. Did you see Alton’s show? He made a steamer out of aluminum pie pans (which he poked holes in the bottom) and metal circle rings (maybe egg rings). I want to buy the metal circular rings, but I have no clue what they are called… did you catch the name from the episode?

  2. I saw that episode! It was “Wonton Ways”.
    He used pastry rings for spacers and said that tuna cans would work also.

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