Kimchi Tofu Dumplings

I haven’t baked or cooked much this summer. All throughout the school year I wanted to, and I said I would when some free time came my way.

But 6-hour work days chasing after 8 and 9 year-olds and calming playground politics have taken their toll. Usually after work I would plop down on the couch and watch a cooking show, generally Brunch @ Bobby’s, only to fall asleep 5 minutes after he finishes the coffee cake. I subsequently wake up 2 hours later to a blank TV screen, which my mom or brother turned off when they realized I crashed.

The camp ended yesterday, so I decided to make tofu kimchi dumplings. I wanted to make something with tofu, since I didn’t want to have to deal with the salmonella and other annoying tidbits that dealing with meat requires. I made the filling one day and filled/froze/cooked them the next (it was Obon weekend, after all; also, a warning: this is definitely a time and prep intensive recipe. I spent somewhere between 1 ½ and 2 hours just making the filling, and I didn’t even fill all the dumpling wrappers).

I used 6 scallions, since I didn’t have any leeks. Also, scallions tend to end up in the bottom of the crisper drawer in my house, forgotten for weeks until someone realizes that they forgot to use the scallions they bought. So I used the whole bunch (minus 1, which I used in the chili garlic/soy/sesame oil/rice wine vinegar dipping sauce for potstickers today).

I wasn’t too careful with measurements for the filling. I didn’t use exactly 12 ounces of bean sprouts. I think it’s okay to take these liberties in this kind of a recipe, since they’re going to taste good anyways. I coarsely chopped the bean sprouts. I squeezed handfuls in my fist to help get rid of some excess water (a lot of the comments I read talked about how watery the filling was, so I tried to avoid the problem). And I didn’t see the point of cooking them (I like them crunchy and I don’t like doing more dishes), so I kept them raw.

I wasn’t (and still am not) quite sure how the tofu was supposed to be prepped, so I squeezed the block in the package a bit first. Then I moved it to a (clean, of course) dish towel, squeezed until the outside was dry to the touch, halved it, squeezed the halves, halved the halves and squeezed the quarters. I didn’t worry if the tofu cracked or crumbled, as it was later chopped up anyways.

I hate grating, so I finely diced the carrots instead. I sauteed them with a bit of canola oil, rather than sesame oil, because I find that cooking with sesame oil destroys that lovely sesame flavor. I didn’t add the brown sugar because I forgot, but I think the final filling was fine without it. I would highly recommend squeezing the tofu. So much water came out. It’s a good thing I did, because the filling was still extremely watery afterwards.

I ran out of steam after filling about 30 dumplings. By the way, this makes significantly more than 45 dumplings. I’d estimate it’d make 120 to 150 dumplings. Anyways, it was okay that I didn’t finish stuffing them. The filling was yummy on its own after a brief stir fry to cook off the egg. I’d imagine the filling would be good on rice, rice noodles, or in lettuce wraps, too.

Would I make these tofu kimchi dumplings again? Probably not. It was so much work, even though they were very delicious. The filling was complex and rich, thanks to the garlic, ginger and the spices from the pickly and spicy kimchi. It had a nice crunch from the bean sprouts (it worked out not boiling them), and a nice hint of sweetness from the carrots. I would have liked more tofu, since it seemed like there was a lot more kimchi (I’m not complaining too much, though; I do love kimchi). I felt that the scallions got lost amongst everything else, so those probably weren’t necessary.

I forwent the exact sauce and winged it a bit. I used a couple of tablespoons of soy, a tablespoon each of sesame oil and rice wine vinegar and a teaspoon of chili garlic sauce (I use this brand that I can find at Ranch 99 or any local Asian grocery store; I often have to resist the urge to dump it on everything savory).

All in all, I’d give these tofu kimchi dumplings 5 stars for taste and 1 star for ease/prep time/my sanity.

Kimchi Tofu Dumplings
adapted from The Kitchn

12 oz bean sprouts
4 carrots, diced finely
1 tsp sesame oil
1 (14-oz) block firm tofu
2 cups kimchi, coarsely chopped and liquid squeezed out
4 scallions, sliced
1 onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch knob minced ginger
2 eggs, beaten
48 (4.5-inch) gyoza wrappers (or more smaller wrappers)

  1. Boil the bean sprouts with 1 cup water until tender, about 15 minutes. Rinse under cold water and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Coarsely chop and squeeze out excess liquid.
  2. Sauté the carrots with 1 tsp oil and a pinch of salt until tender, about 2 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the tofu in a dish towel. Coarsely chop.
  4. In a bowl, combine everything (not wrappers) with a pinch each of salt and pepper. Mix with your hands and adjust seasonings. Add eggs and mix well.
  5. Fill a small bowl with water. Place 1 T filling in the center of each wrapper. Trace the edge of the wrapper with a wet finger. Fold the wrapper over and pinch edges together to seal.
  6. At this point, you can freeze them if you want. Place uncooked dumplings in a single layer and freeze until completely frozen. Transfer to an airtight bag.
  7. Heat some oil in a pan over low heat. Place dumplings in 1 layer, cover and fry until golden. Turn the dumplings over, add 1 tsp water and cover tightly. Cook until golden. Serve with sauce.

Sauce
soy sauce
toasted sesame oil
rice vinegar
chili garlic sauce
sesame seeds (optional)

Combine all ingredients to taste in a small bowl.

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