30-Day Vegan: Tofu & Pak Choi dumplings, Thai broth
Recipe by Laura TomlinsonPhotography by Victoria Harley
I used to believe that a vegan diet was boring. The thought of eating nothing from animals, meaning no yoghurt, cheese or even milk didn’t appeal to me. But when you take these things away it gives you the opportunity to explore and find something new. In January this year, I decided to challenge myself and try a vegan diet. I have always enjoyed experimenting with new ingredients and flavours, and forcing myself into a vegan diet was the perfect way to do so.
Complex Asian flavours are always exciting to taste, which is probably why Chinese is one of the most popular takeaways in the UK today.
Asian food can be really healthy and incredibly easy to make at home. Dumplings, in Asian tradition, are served in winter and are said to have incredible healing properties. They are generally fried or steamed and served in a hot and flavoursome broth. They are the perfect comfort food to warm your insides on a tough winters evening, and are deceptively healthy, considering they taste so delicious.
This recipe is perfect for a slow weekend and is great to make with friends and family, as the dumplings are a little time consuming. But believe me, it’s worth it for the ultimate taste. If you are in a hurry, most Asian supermarkets sell the dumpling wrappers ready made, or you could even buy frozen dumplings of any flavour you desire.
For the dough:
500g plain flour
250ml just boiled water
1 tsp vegetable oil
pinch of salt
For the filling:
(Makes about 20 dumplings)
85g firm tofu
2 spring onions
1 large pak choi, green leaves only
1/2 tbsp minced ginger
1 clove of garlic, minced
2/3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
For the broth:
2 spring onions (whites only, sliced)
2 tbsps minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 litre vegetable stock
1 tbsp soy sauce
Large handful sugar snap peas
Large handful of mushrooms, any kind that you can get your hands on
Lime juice to taste
For the dough
Mix the water, vegetable oil and salt together.
Sift the flour into a large bowl and slowly add the water mixture, stirring well to combine until the dough comes together. It will look quite dry and crumbly at this stage.
Leave to rest for 15-20 minutes at room temperature.
Meanwhile, the filling can be made.
For the filling
Prepare the tofu by squeezing out as much moisture as possible using kitchen towel. Crumble the dry tofu into a bowl and add the ginger, garlic, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and black pepper.
Slice the spring onions finely and add these to the tofu mixture
Slice the pak choi leaves finely and fry them gently in a little oil until tender. Once cool, squeeze out as much moisture as possible using kitchen towel and add them to the tofu mixture.
Once the dough has rested, kneed for around 10 minutes until it becomes elastic and smooth. Roll out the dough to a thickness of around 2mm. If the dough is too thick the dumplings will be very chewy, and if it is too thin the filling will burst out of the dumplings when being cooked.
Cut out circles of dough, around 6cm in diameter, and lay on a floured plate.
Spoon a little of the tofu mixture (about a teaspoon) into each of the wrappers and seal around the edge using a little water.
The dumplings should be half moon shaped and sealed around one half.
*At this stage the dumplings can be easily frozen and saved for another meal later in the week*
To cook, place the dumplings in a little oil in a deep pan with a tight lid, and bring to a medium heat.
Fry the dumplings for a few minutes until the bottoms turn golden brow. Add water to the pan so that the dumplings are half covered and put on the lid. The dumplings need to steam for 5-6 minutes from fresh, or for 7-8 minutes from frozen, until they are hot all the way through.
These can be served straight away with a simple soy and lime dipping sauce, or in a hot broth with vegetables.
For the broth
Fry the spring onions, ginger and garlic in a little oil for a couple of minutes.
Add the vegetable stock and soy sauce and bring to the boil.
Add the sugar snap peas, mushrooms and any other vegetables that take your fancy, and cook for 2-3 minutes until tender.
Finish with the lime juice and 12 hot dumplings and serve immediately.
This also works well served over a bowl of cooked noodles or rice.