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Crispy Rice Paper Dumplings with Tofu Napa Cabbage Fillings and Chili Oil Dip

Literal little satisfaction bombs - these pan-fried rice paper dumplings are golden crispy on the outside, chewy and pillowy in the middle, and filled with savory, juicy, and umami fillings inside. They're also super quick and easy to make, you won't need to make or knead any dough, and all the ingredients in this recipe are naturally gluten-free.


There are few heat-intensive recipes I'm willing to make in the current over 100°F weather, and these rice paper dumplings are definitely one of them and they're worth every little bit of effort you put into cooking - the amount of satisfaction is unmatched and it just hits the spot every single time.


The fillings are inspired by my previous personal favorite before I went vegan, which is pork and napa cabbages. It was not just my favorite, it's my entire biological family's favorite. Growing up, I have had homemade dumplings frequently on various occasions or just no special occasion at all, and my family is very creative with the fillings. However, whenever there's a major holiday it's gotta be pork and napa cabbages no question about it.

So to veganize that flavor and recreate the memory I used tofu and shiitake mushrooms instead of meat, and I can honestly they're just as delicious, savory, umami, and surprisingly "meaty" with a hint of sweetness from the napa cabbages. But of course, these are even better because no one and nothing will suffer any harm from me enjoying this meal, not my own health, not other animals, and not the planet.


Traditionally, dumplings are made of wheat flour wrappers but I have to admit sometimes I'm just too lazy to want to handle flour and tend to the dough, so rice paper is a great quick substitute and they're also gluten-free! There are a few tricks to ensure your rice paper dumplings or rolls won't burst or break during frying and serving:

1. Dip, don't soak, 2-3 seconds is enough. Rice paper will continue to soften up after the initial exposure to water, so as you add fillings and fold, it will get softer and softer. If you dipped the rice paper in water for too long then by the time you finish wrapping it'd already get too soft and soggy, and easily pierced by the fillings;


2. Try your best not to leave any air bubbles in them. When wrapping, roll tightly and smooth out the air bubbles when your fingers as much as you can, because air expands when heated so if there're too many air bubbles inside, when you're frying the rolls those bubbles would expand too much and burst through the wrapper;

3. Double up. This is not necessary as I've made rice paper dumplings with only one single layer and they were perfectly fine. However, if you're new to rice paper, this would be very helpful. Double wrapping will add some structural enforcement to your rolls and make the skin stronger. I doubled in this recipe for added security and also, I like the rice paper skin to be a little thicker so it maintains an almost mochi-like texture in the middle. 


Watch the video for an easy visual guide and if you have any other questions, come find me on Instagram and Tiktok.

INGREDIENTS:

20 rice paper, or 10 if not doing double wrapping
12 oz extra firm tofu
1/4 napa cabbage, 4-5 cups chopped
6 oz shiitake mushrooms, diced
1 medium carrot, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon coconut amino
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder or corn starch
Salt and pepper
Canola oil for cooking, or other neutral tasting oil

For the chili oil dipping -
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon coconut amino
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
Sprinkle of white sesame seeds

TO MAKE:

- Chop the napa cabbage and transfer to a large bowl, add 1 teaspoon of salt and massage evenly, let it sit for 15 minutes while you prepare other veggies, then squeeze out as much liquid as you can, discard the liquid;
- In a large frying pan, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat, fry off the scallions for a minute or two then add garlic, cook till slightly golden and aromatic;
- Add in the carrot and mushrooms, keep stirring and cook till they're soft and mushrooms have let out the moisture;
- Crumble the tofu into the pan, stir to mix well and keep breaking the larger pieces down with your spatula till the mixture is even;
- Add in the napa cabbage, season with the soy sauce, coconut amino, and rice vinegar, cook till all the veggies are warmed through and the liquid is mostly gone, you can add more salt and some black pepper to taste;
- Stir in the arrowroot powder or starch, mix evenly, the mixture now should be sticking together well and not too wet, set aside to cool down for 10 minutes;
- Dip a piece of rice paper in water for 2-3 seconds, shake off any excess water and place onto your work surface;
- Add about 1-2 tablespoon fillings to the bottom edge, fold up and encase the fillings, then fold up the left and right sides to the middle;
- Keep rolling forward like a burrito, until you reach the other end, and you can fry them at this step or double up;
- To double, dip another piece of rice paper, place the roll onto the bottom edge, roll up and close with the same method, repeat until you finish all the rolls, you should be able to get 10 large dumpling rolls or more if you make them smaller;
- In a nonstick pan, heat a drizzle of oil over medium heat, pan fry the rolls till all sides are golden crispy, about 3 minutes for the first side then 2 minutes for the other side, check on them frequently so they don't burn;
- Mix all the dipping ingredients together and serve the dumplings hot, enjoy!

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