Vegetarian soup dumplings are a delicious and satisfying way to enjoy the flavors of Chinese cuisine without meat. Soup dumplings, also known as xiao long bao, which means ‘little basket buns’ in Mandarin, are steamed buns filled with a savory broth and a minced filling which burst in your mouth when you bite into them. Traditionally, the broth is made from gelatinized meat stock and the filling is made from pork or crab.
However, if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you might think that soup dumplings are off-limits for you. After all, how can you make a soup dumpling without meat or gelatin? Well, the good news is that you can still enjoy these delicious treats with some simple substitutions and modifications and turn them into vegan or vegetarian Soup Dumplings. In this recipe, we will show you how to make vegetarian soup dumplings using agar agar, tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables.
Agar agar is derived from seaweed and has the ability to set liquids into a firm jelly when cooled. When steamed, the agar agar melts back into a liquid, creating a burst of flavor when you bite into the dumpling.
This recipe is easy to make at home with some basic ingredients and tools. You will need flour, oil, water, salt, sugar, sesame oil, soy sauce, white pepper, garlic powder, ginger powder, vegetable broth, agar agar, tofu, mushrooms, green onions, cabbage, carrots, and a steamer. You can also use store-bought dumpling wrappers if you want to save time on making the dough. The dumplings are best served hot with some black vinegar and sliced ginger for dipping.
They are also fun and easy to make at home with some basic ingredients and tools. They are perfect for a snack, appetizer, or main course. Try them today and see for yourself how delicious they are! If you crave for a dessert after this flavorful meal, make sure to check out this delicious no bake banana pudding cheesecake.
Table of Contents
Ingredients For Your Vegan/Vegetarian Soup Dumplings
For the broth:
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp vegetable broth paste
- 1 1/2 tsp agar agar powder
For the dough:
- 200 g all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 1/2–3/4 cup hot water
For the filling:
- 1/2 cup firm tofu, crumbled
- 1/4 cup dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked in water and finely chopped
- 3 green onions, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cabbage, shredded and finely chopped
- 1/4 cup carrots, shredded and finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ginger powder
Instructions To Make Vegetarian Soup Dumplings
- To make the broth of vegetarian soup dumplings, combine the water, soy sauce, vegetable broth paste, and agar agar powder in a small saucepan. Whisk well until the agar agar dissolves completely. Over medium-high heat, bring the mixture to a boil while stirring continuously. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for about 2 minutes to activate the agar agar. Turn off the heat and carefully pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish. Place the dish in the refrigerator and let it set until firm, about 20 minutes. You can also speed up the process by placing the dish in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
- To make the dough, place the flour in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the oil and gradually pour in the hot water while stirring with a fork or a wooden spoon. Mix until a shaggy dough forms, then transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic, adding more flour or water as needed. The dough should be soft but not sticky. Place the dough in a plastic bag or a bowl covered with plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- To make the filling of your vegetarian soup dumplings, place the tofu in a clean kitchen towel or cheesecloth and squeeze out as much water as possible. Transfer the tofu to a medium mixing bowl and use a fork to crumble it into small pieces. Drain the shiitake mushrooms and chop them finely. Add them to the bowl with the tofu. Add the green onions, cabbage, carrots, sesame oil, soy sauce, salt, sugar, white pepper, garlic powder, and ginger powder. Mix well until everything is well combined and evenly distributed.
- To assemble the vegetarian soup dumplings, divide the dough into 20-22 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Keep the unused dough covered with plastic wrap or a damp cloth to prevent it from drying out. Working with one piece at a time, flatten it into a thin circle about 4 inches in diameter with a rolling pin or your palm. Make sure that the center is slightly thicker than the edges to prevent tearing. Spoon about a tablespoon of filling onto the center of each wrapper and top with a teaspoon of broth jelly that you cut out from the baking dish with a knife or a cookie cutter. Moisten the edges of the wrapper with some water using your finger or a pastry brush. Fold and pleat the wrapper around the filling and seal it tightly by pinching it with your fingers. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
- To cook the dumplings, line a steamer basket with parchment paper or cabbage leaves and place some dumplings on top without touching each other. You may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of your steamer basket. Steam over boiling water for about 10 minutes until the wrappers are translucent and the broth is melted inside. Be careful not to overcook them or they might burst open.
- To serve, carefully transfer the dumplings to a large platter or individual plates using a spatula or tongs. Serve hot with black vinegar and ginger slices for dipping.
Enjoy your vegetarian soup dumplings! 😊
Some Variations You Can Try With Your Vegan/Vegetarian Soup Dumplings
- You can add some cheese to the filling for a creamy and cheesy twist to make your vegetarian dumplings even tastier. For example, you can use cream cheese, ricotta cheese, or feta cheese.
- You can add some nuts or seeds to the filling for a crunchy and nutty texture. For example, you can use walnuts, almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds, or sesame seeds.
- You can add some herbs or spices to the broth for a more aromatic and flavorful soup. For example, you can use cilantro, basil, mint, rosemary, cumin, turmeric, or curry powder.
Tips and Tricks
- To prevent the vegetarian sooup dumplings from sticking to the steamer basket, you can either line the basket with parchment paper or cabbage leaves, or lightly spray or brush some oil on the basket.
- To make the pleating and sealing process easier, you can use a small cookie scoop or a teaspoon to portion out the filling and broth jelly. You can also moisten your fingers with some water to help seal the edges of the wrappers.
- To store the leftover dumplings, you can either freeze them raw or cooked. To freeze them raw, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until firm, then transfer them to a freezer bag or container. To freeze them cooked, let them cool completely and then freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, you can store them in a freezer bag or container. To reheat them, you can either steam them or microwave them with a damp paper towel over them.
- To make the dumplings more colorful and festive, you can use different colored wrappers. You can either buy them from an Asian market or make them yourself by adding some natural food coloring to the dough. For example, you can use beet juice for pink, spinach juice for green, turmeric for yellow, or purple cabbage juice for purple.
Vegan/Vegetarian soup dumplings are a delicious and satisfying way to enjoy the flavors of Chinese cuisine without meat. They are also fun and easy to make at home with some basic ingredients and tools. By using agar agar, tofu, mushrooms, and vegetables, you can create a juicy and flavorful filling that bursts in your mouth when you bite into the steamed buns. You can also customize the recipe by adding cheese, nuts, herbs, or spices to suit your taste. Serve them hot with black vinegar and ginger slices for dipping, and enjoy a classic Chinese dish with a vegetarian twist.
What is agar agar and where can I find it?
Agar agar is a plant-based gelling agent that is derived from red algae. It has the ability to solidify liquids into a firm jelly when cooled, and melt back into a liquid when heated. This makes it perfect for creating the soup base for the dumplings. You can easily find it in your nearby grocery stores.
Can I use store-bought dumpling wrappers for these vegetarian soup dumplings instead of making my own dough?
Yes, you can use store-bought dumpling wrappers if you want to save time and effort. Just make sure to use thin wrappers that are suitable for steaming, not thick ones that are meant for frying or boiling. You can also use different colored wrappers to make the dumplings more colorful and festive.
How can I prevent the vegetarian soup dumplings from sticking to the steamer basket?
To prevent the dumplings from sticking to the steamer basket, you can either line the basket with parchment paper or cabbage leaves, or lightly spray or brush some oil on the basket.
How can I store and reheat the leftover dumplings?
To store the leftover dumplings, you can either freeze them raw or cooked. To freeze them raw, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze until firm, then transfer them to a freezer bag or container. To freeze them cooked, let them cool completely and then freeze them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, you can store them in a freezer bag or container. To reheat them, you can either steam them or microwave them with a damp paper towel over them.
Can I make vegan soup dumplings?
Yes, you can make vegan soup dumplings by using vegan cheese instead of dairy cheese (if using cheese), and by checking the ingredients of the store-bought wrappers (if using) to make sure they don’t contain any animal products.