Feb 15, 2010

Vegan Dim Sum Party

This year, Lunar New Year fell on Valentine's Day. So, I got to celebrate "veggie love" and "veggie TIGERS," since 2010 is the Year of the Tiger. This one was made with carrots, olives, and cauliflower.

Many Asian cultures celebrate the Lunar New Year, so I decided to make some of my favorite Asian dishes in the form of dim sum (dumplings are by far my favorite food). This is a rather long post, as there are more than a few dishes, so bear with me!

Vegan Har Gow (Shrimp Bonnet) Dumplings

These tender, chewy dumplings, called Har Gow are typically filled with shrimp and chives. A visit to my local Asian market produced an alternative to the shrimp. I like it better when it's ground up and mixed with stuff.

Frozen Soy Shrimp

...And, a premixed package of dumpling starch for making the skins. You can make your own by using the recipe here. One thing to note: if your dough seems to tear easily, it needs to "cook" a bit more. I put my dough into a bowl with a little water, cover, and microwave for a couple minutes, and then knead when it's cooled down enough.

Har Gow Wrapper Mix

This is a gluten-free wrapper, made with a mixture of starches. I know the package says "wheat flour," but it really means wheat starch, which contains no gluten.

Here is the recipe for the filling:

1 1/2 C. thawed, ground fake shrimp
1 tsp. fresh minced ginger
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 C. chopped green onion (or chives)
1 T. ground flax seed, mixed with 1 T. warm water (to mimic an egg)
season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Mix all ingredients for the filling and set aside (I usually just throw everything in the food processor). Add boiling water to the starch mix until a smooth dough forms. Cut a 1" cube and roll into a ball. Flatten the dough ball with hand, then roll out thin with a rolling pin (you may want to oil the surface to prevent excessive sticking). The thinner the wrapper, the more translucent it will be when cooked. Spoon a small amount of filling into the center, then seal the edges by pleating one side and pinching it to the other. To cook, put them into a steamer for about 10 minutes. The dough should be soft and translucent.

Shengjian Bao, are dumplings with leavened dough, and are typically filled with pork and steamed in an oiled pan until the water evaporates and your left with a crispy bottom.

Shengjian Style Dumplings (Bao)

Here's what the bottoms look like...

Another Asian market find, is "vegetarian mutton." Don't ask me why they call it mutton. I don't even know what mutton tastes like, but this is a good substitute for pork (as you can see). Most Asian faux meats come already seasoned, and this one has a slight gingery taste which lends well to the dumplings.

Soy Mutton



2 C. thawed, ground soy mutton
1/2 C. chopped yellow onions
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 C. chopped fresh cilantro
2 T. vegetarian oyster sauce (or mushroom sauce)
1 T. ground flax seeds mixed with 1 T. warm water (to mimic egg)
salt and pepper to taste


1 1/2 tsp. instant dry yeast
3/4 C. lukewarm water
2 T. sugar
2 T. canola oil
3 C. unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp. salt

For the dough, mix the water and sugar in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Wait until it gets nice and foamy. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Lightly whisk the canola oil into the yeast mixture, then add the wet to the dry and knead until you get a nice smooth dough that doesn't stick to your hands. Add more water by the tablespoon if the dough is too dry. Set aside, and let rise to double its size (about 30-40 minutes).

For the filling, simply mix all of the ingredients together. It should stick together when pressed. If it's too loose, add a little more flax seed and water.

To wrap, cut a 1-2" cube of dough, roll into a ball and flatten. Roll thin with a rolling pin (about 1/8 -1/4" thick), and place a spoonful of filling in the middle. Start to pleat the edge of the dough in one direction, holding each pleat with your fingers until almost closed. Pull dough up, twist, and pinch closed on the top center of the dumpling. To cook, heat on high heat an oiled skillet (I prefer non-stick), and arrange the dumplings with the flat side down. Immediately add a cup or so of water and cover. Steam until the water is evaporated and allow them to sizzle until they turn golden and crispy on the bottom- keep an eye on them because they can burn easily!

Next, I made Daikon Radish Cakes which are made with rice flour, steamed, sliced, and pan fried. They're crispy on the outside, and tender and slightly sticky on the inside, and just like dumplings, they are dipped in soy sauce and vinegar when eaten. Sometimes, they also have dried shrimp or little bits of meat and/or scallions. I made mine with sauteed mushrooms and green onions, and it was delicious! NOTE: make sure you use rice flour, and not glutinous or sweet rice flour.

Daikon Radish Cakes


2 C. rice flour
1 C. water
1 1/2 C. daikon radish
1 1/2 C. mushrooms
1 clove garlic
1/2 C. green onions, finely chopped
pinch of white pepper
1 1/2 tsp. salt

Saute the mushrooms whole with the clove of garlic in 1 or 2 T. vegetable oil until slightly tender and browned. In a food processor, put in cubed daikon and process until very fine (grated) consistency. Add in the mushroom, garlic, salt, and white pepper, and pulse until chopped and incorporated with the daikon. Put the rice flour in a bowl, and mix in the daikon mixture. Mix in water- it should be the consistency of oatmeal or pudding. Pour into an oiled loaf pan, and steam for 30-40 minutes or until firm. Let cool, then dump out and slice into 1/2" - 1" slices. Fry in a skillet with a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil until brown and crispy on both sides.

Daikon Radish Cake, Uncooked

Daikon Radish Cake, After Steaming

Kimchi (sometimes spelled Kimchee) is one of my favorite veggie sides. It's a very popular Korean spicy pickled cabbage. Most often, you can find jarred kimchi in Asian markets, and they can vary in flavor, heat, and type. They are usually not vegan, as they will have seafood like shrimp paste or anchovy in it. I don't know about any of you, but I like my kimchi sweet, spicy, a little salty, and a little sour. Most of the jarred kind that I've tried are too salty and sour, and not sweet enough! I took a tip from a Korean lady, and added fruit to mine, and it was so good, I didn't need to wait a few days for it to marinate! The traditional Korean method is to let it ferment for days before eating! You can also add different veggies and fruits: carrots, bok choy, apples, oranges, etc. Try it and let me know what you think...

Sweet Spicy Kimchi

3/4 -1 C. salt (for soaking)
About 6 liters of water (25 cups or enough to just cover)

1 large head of napa cabbage
1 C. sliced or cubed daikon radish (optional)
2 C. fresh pineapple, roughly cut into chunks
1 C. Korean crushed red pepper*
5-8 cloves garlic (I like garlic)
1 tsp. fresh ginger or 1 T. dried ground ginger
1/2 C. sugar (if you don't like your kimchi sweet, add less)
1 T. apple cider vinegar

2 C. chopped green onions (or one bunch)

In a large salad or punch bowl (large enough for all the veggies), mix the salt and water until the salt is dissolved. Cut the stem out of the cabbage and cut into bite sized pieces and put into the bowl along with the cubed daikon (I usually us a big strainer inside the bowl which makes it easier later). Let soak for a couple of hours (sometimes I forget and it soaks for several). Drain the veggies, and taste.  It should be good and salty, but if it's too salty, give it a rinse or two until it's to your taste.

Puree the pineapple, *Korean red pepper (this is a seedless crushed pepper that you can find in Asian markets and is essential to this dish), garlic, ginger, sugar, and vinegar, until smooth. Pour over cabbage and daikon, along with the green onions, and mix until fully combined. Ready to eat now, or store in an air tight container in the fridge.  It lasts a long time, but we usually finish it within 3 weeks.  The flavor will intensify the longer it sits.

And, finally... DESSERT! Thai Coconut Tapioca Pudding. This is not an exact science (yet), but very simple to make. Take a package of tapioca pearls, soak in some water (enough to cover) for an hour. Let it come to a boil, then simmer until translucent. Add a can or two (depending on desired richness) of coconut milk, sugar to desired sweetness, and let thicken to desired consistency. Then top with toasted coconut and almonds after chilling. You can also eat this warm if desired.

Happy Lunar New Year Everyone!


  1. Oh my goodness, YUM! So many of my favorite foods, so much inspiration to go visit the Asian supermarket RIGHT NEXT DOOR to the building I have most classes in. Definitely bookmarking this one.

  2. What a feast! Love that tiger, too. So creative!

  3. Happy New Year! I love the daikon cakes. Everything looks so delicious. Your tofu xpress will be in the mail tomorrow. It was snowing today, so I didn't sneak out of the office to go to the post office. Cheers!

  4. looks good- i especially like the daikon cakes and kimchi. i need to make kimchi soon. it looks too delicious.

    i was born in the year of the tiger :)

  5. awesome post! i love just perusing my fave asian groceries for new things to make... i can't believe you found soy shrimp! i'm going to have to look for those!

  6. Wow, you're making me sad that I didn't celebrate the Luna New Year. Of course, I don't think it would have been as exciting without your cooking... This spread looks beyond incredible!

  7. I wish I could find some soy mutton where I live to use in my Dad's Not-Mutton Mushroom Curry. You are killing me with all that delicious food and those amazing dumplings!

  8. leave it up to dj karma to take dim sum to a whole new level! :) I want to try that frozen shrimp

  9. Oh my! These look oh so yummy! esp. the Daikon which I've never had!

  10. Super happy to make your acquaintance! I love this post. There are so many wonderful recipes and beautiful photos. I am always looking for a new kimchi recipe and the coconut pudding rocks! Thanks DJ Karma! Megan

  11. wow.....all the food looks so good!!!!!!!!!!!

  12. I loved the Dim Sum variety...Its one of my favorites actually..I love the chewy nature...

  13. I just came across this post and it has everything I've eaten, but didn't know how to make. Thanks so much.