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stuartlikesstrudel

Improving the texture of vegetarian dumpling fillings

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Hi everyone,

Been a while since i've posted much here, but I am again faced with an issue that's plagued me for a while and I'm hoping to get some ideas from you...

I like making vegetarian dumplings (the asian potsticker/gyoza type) and can never get the fillings to play nice - they're usually too wet and don't hold together very well, making the construction process frustrating, and the eating process less satisfying than the meat counterpart, in my opinion. There's a certain toothsome-ness that I'd like to be able to achieve, but without the meat that usually brings it.

I've improved my process by sweating down vegetables to remove some of the moisture, limiting the liquid seasonings and sometimes used a little cornflour to thicken, but it's still not quite where I'd like it.

The fillings vary but often incorporate mushroom or tofu, carrot, cabbage, spring onion etc.

I'm wondering if perhaps there's a hydrocolloid/magical modernist powder that might be of assistance... i had some vegetarian dim sum recently that really had that firmish, slightly gelatinous texture. See here for the picture (the two on the LHS), you can probably imagine the feel from that. If something like agar would work, I imagine it could be mixed into a tofu-centric filling that would bind everything a bit more.

Any ideas? Even just general technique/tips would be welcome (i.e is there anything similar to the breadcrumbs or flour we put in other things to bind and thicken that would do the job without muting flavours)?

Thanks,

Stu

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You mention mushrooms. Which type? Tofu. Which type?

Some of the firmer mushrooms are going to give you more bite. Dried or smoked or dried-smoked tofu will do the same, if you can get it..


Edited by liuzhou (log)

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A few ideas:

1) You might be doing this already, but I'd do more than just sweat the vegetables. For example, I'd slowly cook chopped mushrooms until they're no longer releasing any moisture

2) Salt the cabbage and let it sit for a while in a colander, then quickly rinse and pat dry--much as you might do for cole slaw.

3) Press the heck out of the tofu. Or freeze it in a block, then thaw. It becomes chewy and meat-like. Liuzhou's tofu suggestions would work, too, of course.

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I have purchased frozen Korean potsticker type dumplings that contain glass noodles. It add a unique texture and they also absorb liquids.

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I remember reading somewhere on andrea nyugen site that vegetable filling had to be cooked or the dumplings would become soggy. Her site is: asiandumplings.com


Edited by shar999 (log)

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Thanks for the suggestions!

I haven't looked into roasted rice powder, sounds like it might be an appropriate thickener in keeping with the cuisine.

Ditto with the glass noodles, that'd be quite an interesting addition.

I do currently cook veges, squeeze tofu etc, but I guess the reminders here to do it thoroughly reinforce the importance of that...

What I still can't figure out is the meat-texture dilemma... I know it's difficult to replicate but all my attempts revolve around modifying ingredients/technique but the end result is still a bunch of individual things inside the wrapper, no real connection between them (so if i eat half a dumpling, random bits of tofu or spring onion might fall out, which doesn't really happen with meat ones).

Maybe I need to look into egg as a binder.

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In the Asian Dumpling cookbook, Andrea Nguyen added a small cornstarch slurry to make her vegetarian dumplings to make a cohesive filling.

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I do currently cook veges, squeeze tofu etc, but I guess the reminders here to do it thoroughly reinforce the importance of that...

What I still can't figure out is the meat-texture dilemma... I know it's difficult to replicate but all my attempts revolve around modifying ingredients/technique but the end result is still a bunch of individual things inside the wrapper, no real connection between them (so if i eat half a dumpling, random bits of tofu or spring onion might fall out, which doesn't really happen with meat ones).

Maybe I need to look into egg as a binder.

getting the stuffing to stick together:

- i would agree with shar999 to use cornstarch

- and Alex post has good suggestions.

i dont use fresh mushrooms in these recipes, but if you do so, then slow cooking to dry them would be a solution. I use

reconstituted dried mushrooms, because it has more flavor/umami, and i squeeze as much of the water out of it as possible.

i dont just pat dry, i wring the hell out of the salted cabbage, like doing laundry by hand :laugh: You could refine the salting process such that you do not have to add any additional salt,or use liquid

seasoning for the salt content. If i need any seasoning, i usually only add MSG.

- you may want to try chopping the ingredients for the stuffing into finer bits, and i do not recommend the use of a blender in this application.

- and lastly, it would not bother me to have bits falling out of the jiaozi, YMMV

To get the meat texture, Alex recommendation to freeze the tofu, not just squeeze the liquid out of the tofu block, is the easiest way to get meat texture into your Jiaozi. Freezing tofu is actually the preferred prep among quite a few northerners (in China that is). It turns the tofu into sponge like texture and absorbs flavors more readily. Such ' processed' tofu is one of the many techniques/ingredients in Chinese vegetarian cuisine to mimic meat/poultry/fish textures, and of course you have to add flavors to these textured vegetarian ingredients. There is quite a lot of information about chinese vegetarian cuisine on the internet.

BTW, i usually add in some aromatics like garlic chives 韭菜 or garlic scapes or chinese celery when they are available,

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