Tuesday night I set out to make these mushroom and tofu dumplings, which I pinned a few weeks ago. I am not a patient gal, so I was nervous about taking on the labor-intensive task of making filling and forming dumplings.
It turns out that I'm also not well-educated, when it comes to understanding Asian dumpling wrappers. See, apparently wonton wrappers and spring roll wrappers are not the same. I mean, I knew they weren't exactly the same, but I thought they'd be close enough. When I couldn't find vegan wontons at the grocery store, I grabbed a package of spring roll wrappers. As it turns out, dumplings were not going to work.
I went ahead and formed spring rolls instead. The problem is that the recipe I was referencing instructed to boil the dumplings, which clearly was not going to work with the more fragile wrappers and the larger size of the rolls. Without knowing what I was doing, I first tried baking the rolls, which resulted in a tough, barely chewable skin (see photo on left, of collage below).
My second thought was to bust out my bamboo steamer. There were no instructions on the wrapper package, but it said they could be fried or steamed, so I thought the steamer was a safe option. Guess what? Soft, fragile spring rolls stick to the steamer like crazy. Oh, and I steamed them for too long, and they all split open (see photo on right, of collage above).
The technique that made the spring rolls work, was to place flattened cabbage leaves in the steamer, and putting the rolls on top of them. Then I steamed the spring rolls for only about 4 minutes.
Success! I didn't have the dumplings that I really, really wanted. I did have a respectable spring roll. Though in all honesty, they were difficult to eat. They were hard to pick up (nearly impossible with the chopsticks shown in these pics), and they fell apart after a single bite.
If I can find vegan wonton wrappers, I'll most definitely make these again. Or maybe I'll just make the filling and sauce, and serve it on a bed of rice. Yum!
Was that enough drama for a recipe post? Too many pictures today? Are you afraid to make these now? I hope not! Oh, and if you can find vegan wontons, form dumplings, instead of rolls, and cook them in boiling water, until the wonton skins are translucent. Easy!
Mushroom, Tofu, and Kale Spring Rolls
1 pound firm or extra firm tofu, pressed at least an hour, cut into small cubes
8 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
1 tbsp oil (peanut, coconut, or canola will work)
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1/2 cup finely diced carrot (1/8 inch cubes)
1 cup finely chopped kale (packed)
1 tsp minced ginger
2 tbsp tamari
2 tsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
3-4 cabbage leaves (for steaming)
about 12-15 spring roll wrappers (I estimate you'll need about 30-40 wonton wrappers)
3 tbsp tamari
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp sesame oil
1-2 tsp lime juice
Saute the mushrooms in the oil, in a large saute pan, over medium-high heat. Saute them until the moisture is released and cooked off. Transfer the mushrooms from the pan to a large bowl. Add the cabbage, onion, and carrot to the pan, and lower to medium heat. Cook until the cabbage and carrots are softened, then add to the bowl with the mushrooms. The last to go in the pan is the kale and ginger, which you want to saute just long enough to wilt the greens and bring out the fragrance of the ginger. Add the kale and ginger, the pressed and cubed tofu, and the remaining ingredients (save for the cabbage leaves). Toss everything together
To assemble to the spring rolls, you need to create a work space. You need a large, shallow dish filled with warm water. You need 2 large plates, covered with a wet tea towel or a couple layers of wet paper towel. Water is your friend here. The towel doesn't need to be dripping, but it needs to be wet, not just damp. You may need to add more water, as you work. You also need to have the bowl of filling and a tablespoon. Place your steamer over a pan of water over medium-high heat, and place the cabbage leaves in the steamer, to cover each level. If they are too curled, just cut or break them, to lay mostly flat.
Soak a wrapper in the warm water for 15-20 seconds, until it is soft and pliable. Carefully move the wrapper from the water to one of the plates (right on the wet towel). Scoop 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of the wrapper, then gently, but tightly, fold the wrapper around the filling, like you might fold a burrito. If at any time, your fingers are sticking to the wrapper, dip them in the dish of water. Transfer the spring roll to second plate.
When all the the spring rolls are formed, place them on the cabbage leaves in the steamer, making sure that they are not touching each other. Close the steamer and cook for 2-4 minutes, until the wrappers have tightened and are a bit more translucent. While the rolls steam, whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Serve the finished spring rolls with the sauce as an appetizer, snack, or a small meal.