Gyoza are Japanese dumplings, typically filled with minced pork, mushrooms, and onions. Of course, as vegans we had to come up with a meat substitute, that retained that rich umami smokiness of pork. An obvious candidate was tofu, but on its own tofu is pretty bland and boring. That’s why we decided to marinate firm tofu in a mixture of liquid smoke and soy sauce, which imbues it with a robust salty and smoky taste that delivers the satisfying flavor and texture of pork. Once you get the hang of folding the Gyoza, the recipe comes together in about 1 hour and 30 minutes and serves 3 to 4 people. We adapted this recipe from Just One Cookbook.
For the vegetable and tofu filling:
- 1 block firm tofu (450g)
- 5 leaves green cabbage
- 5 to 6 medium sized mushrooms
- 4 spring onions
- 1 inch ginger
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil, plus more for frying
- 1 tablespoon sake
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 package Gyoza wrappers (If the wrappers are frozen, make sure to take them out of the freezer at least an hour before you begin cooking to allow them to defrost)
For the tofu marinade:
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 to 2 teaspoons liquid smoke
For the dipping sauce (optional):
- 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- Begin by pressing the tofu using dish towels or paper towels for at least 30 minutes until it feels relatively dry the touch. Once tofu is pressed, dice into 1/2 cm thick pieces and place them in a container with a lid. Next, prepare the tofu marinade by mixing together the soy sauce and liquid smoke and pour it over the diced tofu. Then put the lid on the container and agitate the tofu by turning the container upside down to ensure all the tofu is covered with the marinade. The tofu should be left to marinate for 30 minutes, in which time you can continue preparing the Gyoza.
- Begin by cutting away the tough spine at the base of each cabbage leaf, then finely chop the leaves and place them in a large mixing bowl. Next, finely chop the mushrooms and spring onions, mince the garlic and grate the ginger, and add these to the bowl as well. Finally add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, sesame oil, and sake to the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. Once the tofu has finished marinating, add the cubes to the rest of the vegetable filling, making sure to reserve as much of the liquid in the marinating container as possible. Give the mixture a final stir.
- Now we’re ready to fold the dumplings. Make sure you have a small bowl of water ready and an empty plate for the folded Gyoza. Place a wrapper in the palm of your hand. Then dip your finger into the water and rub it along the perimeter of the wrapper. Next, place about 1 tablespoon of vegetable filling in the center of the wrapper. Now, pinch opposite sides of the wrapper together, and, working across the half-moon edge of the dumpling, loop one side of the wrapper back on itself and press to the other side of the wrapper to get it to stick together. We’d recommend watching this video to get a better idea of how to fold the Gyoza.
- Once you have finished folding the Gyoza, you’re ready to fry them. Heat a cast iron pan over medium heat. Now, working in batches, add two teaspoons of vegetable oil to the pan and put in as many dumplings as you can fit without crowding the pan. The dumplings should not be touching each other. Fry the dumplings for about 2 minutes on one side (without flipping) until they are golden brown on the bottom. Next add 1/4 cup water to the pan and immediately cover with a lid, so the dumplings can begin steaming, about 2 to 3 minutes. Once the water is mostly absorbed, add 3 teaspoons sesame oil to the pan and agitate the dumplings with a spatula for another few minutes until they have taken on a darker hue from the oil. Finally, remove the dumplings from the pan and place them on a towel lined plate to absorb excess oil before serving.
- Once the dumplings are finished cooking, you can mix together the dipping sauce by combining equal parts soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.
If you try this recipe, let us know how your dumplings turned out. How does our “porky” tofu compare to the real thing?