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Shanghai Style Vegan Wontons in Peanut Butter and Chili Oil Sauce

This, is the GOAT of all wontons - sorry to all the other wonton varieties out there I love them all but nothing tops these Shanghai street food style wontons! They are stuffed with umami tofu and colorful vegetables, cooked then chilled, and doused in a luscious peanut butter and chili oil sauce.

I hold this recipe especially dear to my heart, as it embodies some of the best memories from my years in Shanghai. Throughout all the ups and downs, growth and growth pains, the street food in Shanghai was the one consistent thing that gave me so much comfort and joy. Scallion pancakes, scallion oil noodles, turnip cakes, soup dumplings, siu mai... but most of all, wontons! Hot steamy wonton soups in the winter and chilled peanut butter chili oil wontons in the spring and summer.

The peanut butter and chili oil sauce is without a doubt the soul of this dish. I highly recommend making your own chili oil following this recipe! It's sooo much more aromatic and flavorful than storebought and also gives you the flexibility to adjust the flavor to your liking.

For the fillings, we are aiming to create that big round "belly" in the wontons that just look so enticing. I made the fillings vegan, of course, with tofu, shiitake mushrooms, and colorful veggies, it's umami, savory, subtly sweet from the natural flavors of veggies and oh so nourishing to our bodies as well ^^

If you've never made wontons or dumplings before, the wrapping step might seem a bit daunting - worry not! I'm here for you. I have summarized three simple steps that you can do in just THREE SECONDS to achieve the perfect shaped wontons every single time. Watch the video below!


*makes about 30 big wontons, perfect for 2 servings

30 wonton wrapper

For the fillings -
8 oz extra firm tofu
1 medium carrot, finely diced
6 oz shiitake mushroom, finely diced
1 bunch fresh whole-leaf spinach, about 1 cup blanched
1/2 cup sweet corn, fresh or defrosted
2 scallion, chopped, whites and greens separated
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon coconut amino
2 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Cooking oil, canola, sunflower seed, or peanut oil

For the Peanut Butter Chili Oil Sauce -
*to dress 2 bowls
2 tablespoon homemade chili oil, or storebought
2 tablespoon creamy homemade peanut butter, or storebought
2 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoon coconut amino
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced garlic


- Prepare the fillings first, drain and pat dry your tofu, prep all the veggies, chop, dice, put each vegetable in its own little bowl or plate as you go;
- In a large nonstick pan, heat a drizzle of cooking oil over medium-high heat, fry off the scallion white for a minute or so, then add the minced garlic, cook till aromatic;
- Crumble the tofu into the pan with your hands, continue to break the big pieces down with your spatula, stir and cook till the tofu pieces are small, even, and slightly golden;
- Add in the mushrooms, cook till they let out moisture, then season with the soy sauce and coconut amino, cook over medium heat to reduce the liquid in the pan, turn off the heat when most liquid is absorbed and/or evaporated, set aside;
- Bring a large pot of water to boil, blanch the spinach for 20 - 30 seconds, do not overcook them! Take them out when the stems are just softened, and immediately rinse under cold water to stop cooking;
- Chop the blanched spinach then squeeze out most of the liquid, it doesn't have to be bone-dry, we want to keep a little bit of the veggie juice in there, but grab the chopped spinach by the handful and give them two or three good squeezes;
- In a large bowl, mix together the tofu shiitake mushroom mixture, spinach, chopped carrot, corn, scallion greens, sesame oil, arrowroot powder, Chinese five spice, and white pepper, stir vigorously till everything is well combined and forms a sticky mixture;
- Prepare a small bowl of water and take the wonton wrappers out of the fridge;
- Take one wonton wrapper, dip your fingertips in the water, and draw around the four edges to wet them a little;
- Add about 1 teaspoon of filling mixture onto the center, hold the wrapper with the thumbs and index fingers of both hands, the filling part should be in the middle;
- Flip your thumbs up first, to lift up the bottom half of the wrapper, then flip your index fingers to close the top half onto the bottom half, now we have created kind of a "roll";
- Now warp that "roll" with the curves of your hands with both thumbs holding the two ends, and  have the two thumbs meet and press together to close;
- Repeated until you finish all the wontons, cover the ones you've made with a damp towel;
- Bring a pot of water to a rolling boil again, carefully drop the wontons in the pot, DO NOT overcrowd the pot! If your pot is small or you made a lot of wontons, cook them in batches;
- Once the wontons float to the surface, drizzle a little cold water onto them, and wait for the water to boil again, then strain out the wontons;
- Quickly rinse under some cold water, do not soak cooked wontons in water for too long! The wrappers can start to fall apart if soaked too much;
- Drizzle a little sesame oil on the wontons and shake them to coat evenly, this is to prevent them from sticking to each other;
- In a sauce bowl, mix together all the sauce ingredients, pour onto the wontons, serve immediately, enjoy!

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