Enjoy A Feast From The East With These Incredibly Hearty & Crispy Rice Paper Dumplings That Are Gluten-Free & Vegan Too!
Almost everyone I know loves, and I mean LOVES dumplings. Because what’s not to love?
They’re so comforting, easy to cook (be it boiled, steamed, or pan-fried), and they’re essentially bite-sized pouches of deliciousness. But that’s where it ends.
Finding delicious vegan dumplings in restaurants and supermarkets is a true struggle. Most restaurant-made or store-bought dumplings either contain meat or are packed with a whole lot of starch and little nutrients.
So you can only imagine how excited we were when our Cosmic Cookware partner, Chloe Wheatland, created this recipe for vegan rice paper dumplings that are oh-so-delicious, nutritious, and super easy to whip up!
These rice paper dumplings are not only suitable for vegans, they’re also gluten-free so almost all your guests and loved ones can enjoy it. They are crispy outside and superbly meaty inside, even though there’s absolutely no meat involved.
You can easily get the ingredients from your nearest supermarket or asian mart and they’re much, much healthier than store-bought vegan dumplings. So let’s get ready to cook up a dumpling feast!
What Makes These Crispy Rice Paper Dumplings Vegan & Gluten-Free?
At its most basic meaning, dumplings are essentially cooked dough wrapped around a filling. For non-vegans the fillings are usually ground pork, chicken, beef, and sometimes lamb or seafood. But when it comes to vegan dumplings, things are a little different. Especially when you also want to make them gluten-free.
So this rice paper dumplings recipe replaces the usual meat-based filling with “tofu meat” to make it vegan. When prepared properly, tofu takes on the same texture as meat while nourishing you with as much, if not more protein than meat (think vegan ground beef)!
Plant-Based Ingredients Only For The Crispy Rice Paper Dumplings’ Filling
This recipe’s star ingredients are: pressed tofu, walnuts, garlic, ginger, carrots, and shredded cabbage. The pressed tofu and walnuts give the “tofu meat” a balance of meaty texture, while the ginger, carrots, and cabbage add slight sweetness and extra chunkiness with a depth of delicious yet complex flavours that you’ll often find while enjoying delicious Chinese cuisine.
The rest of the ingredients like tamari, vegan fish sauce, sriracha, rice malt syrup, and sesame oil provide a scrumptious balance of flavours to the dumplings. So much so that even our non-vegan friends couldn’t stop at one!
Substituting Traditional Dough With Rice Paper Wrappers For Crispy Dumplings
Traditional dumpling recipes call for dough, but we use rice paper as a replacement to the dough to make it gluten-free. These rice paper sheets are what’s going to form and hold your dumplings together, and you can find them easily at most supermarkets and your local Asian grocer.
How Long Do I Need To Soak The Rice Paper?
If this is your first time working with rice paper, you’ll probably be wondering “how on earth do I use rice paper to wrap?”. It’s totally normal because at first glance, they’re firm and they snap apart when you bend them.
All you have to do is to soak one rice paper sheet at a time in warm water for 8-10 seconds to soften so you can work with it.
How Do You Wrap Rice Paper Dumplings?
Rice paper is delicate after it is soaked. It’ll look like a thin, translucent sheet which tends to break apart easily if handled roughly. Which is why we use two sheets of rice paper to wrap the dumplings securely just like a gift, so it does not break apart when we pan-fry the dumplings.
Here’s how you can wrap the dumplings with rice paper:
- Simply lay the rice paper sheet on a flat surface after soaking it in warm water, and place a few tablespoons of the tofu meat in its center.
- Fold the bottom corner of the rice paper over the filling by bringing it towards the top. This will cover the filling completely.
- Next, you’ll want to fold the left and right corners of the rice paper inwards towards the centre, ensuring they overlap each other slightly. You’ll then see two triangular flaps on either side.
- Wet the edges of the folded rice paper and fold the top corner of the rice paper down to cover the triangular flaps. Gently press to seal the edges.
- Now grab a second sheet of rice paper and repeat the steps with the fold face down. And you’re done! :)
What Happens When You Cook Rice Paper?
Soaked rice paper is soft with a slightly chewy texture and neutral flavour to it, just like rice! But what happens when you cook it? You’ll probably think it will easily break apart because of how delicate it is - and you’re actually right!
What you can do to prevent it from breaking apart is to pan-fry it with enough oil on non-stick cookware. It’s best to do so on a non-stick pan because rice paper tends to stick easily on stainless steel and cast iron cookware.
Non-stick cookware like Cosmic Cookware’s range of non-toxic ceramic non-stick cookware will help a whole lot in preventing softened rice paper from getting stuck, while the oil helps it to form a nice sear and crisp exterior.
Are Rice Paper Dumplings Healthy?
I’d say that these vegan gluten-free dumplings made from rice paper are a fantastic low-carb alternative to traditional dumplings. Traditional dumplings are made with flour-based dough, which bumps up the calorie content and gives rise to gluten. So it won’t be a healthy choice for those who are sensitive to gluten.
Whereas these rice paper vegan dumplings can be considered healthier because they are gluten-free, contain less starch overall, and are made with a healthy dose of protein and vegetables!