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Vegetarian Dim Sum

Updated on November 16, 2016

Vegetarian Dim Sum

When I lived in Burlington, VT, my DH and I used to go to our favorite restaurant, Five Spice Cafe, on Sunday afternoons for dim sum. The great thing about Five Spice is that they made their own dumplings, and being the earthy-crunchy sort of location, you could go for a totally vegetarian dim sum option. It was terrific. The place has since burned down, and we haven't found another place with dim sum for vegetarians. So below is a DIY option for vegetarian dim sum. Enjoy!

Dim Sum - The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch

Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch
Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch

Most Chinese cookbooks include some recipes for standard dim sum dishes such as scallion pancakes and potstickers, but as Blonder (Every Grain of Rice) found, there is little devoted solely to these popular brunch/tea snacks and certainly nothing as charming and accessible as her little book. She provides 60 recipes, from dumplings to sweets and condiments, all illustrated by her own lovely watercolors. The recipes are clearly written, with step-by-step drawings of various techniques, and most include make-ahead suggestions. Recommended.


DIY Vegetarian Dim Sum

What you'll need

  • Steamer for warming dumplings
  • Wok or skillet for cooking vegetables
  • Small, shallow bowls for serving sauces
  • Assortment of dumplings and dim sum offerings (see 'Dim Sum 101', below); plan on 6 to 10 pieces per person
  • Chinese-style hot mustard
  • Tea
  • Chopsticks
Ginger-Scallion Soy Sauce

Sweet Chili Sauce

Cooling Cilantro-Cucumber Dipping Sauce

Chili Oil

Gai Lan with Vegetarian Oyster Sauce

Spicy Eggplant with Black Vinegar Sauce

Egg Tarts with Almonds

Dim Sum 101

Don't know a shu mei from a pot sticker? This list of dim sum favorites will help you to choose well from the frozen food section (or take-out menu). Always check that the foods are 100 percent vegetarian and don't contain hidden ingredients such as fish sauce, seafood, lard, or ground meat.

Lotus leaf rice Seasoned sticky rice wrapped in a lotus leaf and steamed. The leaf is not eaten.

Pot stickers or gyoza Crescent-shaped dumplings that are steamed, then pan-fried on one or both sides until crispy.

Rice balls Deep-fried rounds of seasoned sticky rice with a vegetable filling.

Shu mei Steamed, pouch-shaped dumplings.

Spring rolls Smaller and lighter than egg rolls, spring rolls are filled with sautéed vegetables and fried until crispy.

Steamed buns Also called bao (pronounced "bow"), these pale, round steamed buns made with rice flour are filled with barbecued bean curd (tofu) or seitan.

Taro cake Starchy, savory pan-fried patties made with cooked and mashed taro root.

Wontons Ravioli-like dumplings made from flat pasta-like wrappers. Wontons can be served steamed, fried, or stirred into a brothy soup.

Read more at DIY Dim Sum | Vegetarian Dim Sum Recipes.

How to Wrap a Dumpling

The following videos will show you how to fold these different dumpling shapes: half moon, pea pod, big hug, pleated crescent, rope edge & closed satchel.

Vegetarian Kimchi Mandu (Kimchi Dumpling) - Dim Sum


  • 2 cups chopped kimchi
  • 1/2 lb shiitake/button mushrooms
  • 6 oz tofu
  • 8 oz bean sprouts
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 scallions
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon finely minced ginger (or juiced)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 or more teaspoon salt to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper


Finely chop the kimchi and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. Blanch the bean sprouts in boiling water, drain, chop and squeeze out water. Squeeze out water from tofu. Using a cheesecloth will make squeezing easier. Work in small batches - 1 handful at a time. The squeezed ingredients should be dry and crumbly. Finely chop the onion and scallions.

Mix all ingredients well in a large bowl by hand.

Place one heaping teaspoonful of the filling on a wrapper placed on your palm. Wet the edges of the wrapper with water and seal tightly (pushing the air out with your fingers) into a half-moon shape. Repeat this process until all the filling/wrappers are used.

Kimchi mandu can be steamed for about 10 minutes in a steamer. Make sure to line the steamer with a cheesecloth or wet paper towel to prevent mandu from sticking.

Recipe via eating and living: Kimchi Mandu (Kimchi Dumpling)

Vegetarian Shumai


  • ½ cup onion

  • 1 ½ cup nappa cabbage, chopped fine

  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

  • ¼ cup carrot, grated

  • sesame oil

  • ¼ cup green onion, chopped fine

  • 2 tsp. ginger, grated

  • ¼ cup water chestnuts, chopped fine

  • ¾ cup bulgur wheat

  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro

  • 1 ¼ cups water

  • 1 Tbsp. hoisin sauce

  • ½ cup teriyaki marinade

  • wonton wrappers


  1. In a saucepan, sauté the onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp. sesame oil until tender. Add ginger and sauté for another minute.

    Add the bulgur and cook for about another four minutes, stirring constantly.

  2. Add 1 cup of the water and simmer until the bulgur has softened and absorbed most of the water.

  3. Add in the teriyaki sauce and continue to simmer until all the moisture is removed. Set aside to a separate bowl.

  4. In the same skillet, heat another tablespoon of sesame oil, sauté the remaining vegetables and water chestnuts until crisp-tender.

  5. Add this mixture to the bulgur mixture and stir in the hoisin sauce.

  6. Fill each wonton wrapper with approximately a teaspoon of filling. Be sure to squeeze the air out. Use water to help seal the edges and fold in either a triangle or rectangle shape. Or you may fold it fancy by first folding into a triangle. Then bend back the corner opposite the straight edge and fold forward the two remaining corners using a dab of water to hold the corners together.

  7. In a clean skillet, heat approximately a tablespoon of sesame oil. Place prepared shumai in pan and brown evenly. When browned, reduce the heat to low and quickly pour in ¼ cup of the water into the skillet and cover immediately, letting it steam off. Remove and place on a serving dish. Garnish with sauce and chopped green onions and toasted sesame seeds, if desired.

  8. Sauce: You can pour over a combination of any of these: soy sauce, Thai sweet chili sauce, lemon juice.

Recipe via Everyday Dish TV

Mock Duck Dumplings

My favorite vegetarian dim sum dumpling was the mock duck dumpling. I'm not sure if this recipe is even close, but it looks worth the shot.


  • 1 can of Mock Duck, put through a food grinder
  • 1 cup finely chopped savoy cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped scallions
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped chives
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons chili paste
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until thoroughly combined.

Heat a skillet, just large enough to accommodate the number of dumplings you want to cook over high heat. Add a thin coating of oil, heat, then add the dumplings in concentric circles. They should be touching. Cook until the bottoms are golden brown, 3 or 4 minutes (reduce the heat if they are browning too quickly). Add enough water to come about 1/4 of the way up the sides of the dumplings-it will spatter. Cover the skillet, adjust the heat so that the water is simmering, and cook for about 7 minutes. Uncover the skillet and, if there is water left, let it cook off. Check the dumpling bottoms-if they need to brown a bit more, let them, adding a bit more oil if necessary.

Serve the dumplings immediately, drizzled with some hoisin sauce and garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.

Recipe modified from Chinese-Style Dumplings Recipe : : Food Network

Vegetarian Gyoza


  • 15 gow gee wrappers
  • 100g mushrooms, diced finely
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 stick of celery, diced
  • 1/2 an onion, peeled and diced finely
  • 1 tablespoon of diced chives
  • 1/2 cup wombok cabbage, shredded
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of mirin
  • 2cm piece ginger, peeled, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • chives, diced, to serve


  1. Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
  2. Spread out all the gow gee wrapper on the kitchen bench and spoon 1 heaped teaspoon of mixture in the centre of each wrapper.
  3. Brush edges with cold water and fold wrapper over to and press edges together to seal.
  4. Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a simmer.
  5. Line a bamboo steamer with baking paper (this prevents the gyoza from sticking to the steamer) and place over the simmering water to steam the gyoza.
  6. Steam gyoza until the gow gee wrappers turn semi translucent.
  7. Once you have steamed all the gyoza you can keep them in a plastic container lined with baking paper in between each layer of gyoza until ready to serve.

To serve:

  1. Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat along with 1 tablespoon of oil.
  2. Arrange the gyoza in the pan and cook until browned (I only cooked one side).
  3. Before serving sprinkle with some diced chives and serve with a ponzu dipping sauce (available from most supermarkets).

Recipe via Delicieux

Vegan Bao

For the bun

  • 1/4 cup unbleached cane sugar

  • 1 3/4 cups warm water

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (quick-rise or conventional)

  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached flour

  • 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine

  • 1 tablespoon baking powder

For the filling

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

  • 2 cups seitan, cut into small pieces

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce

  • 1/4 cup hot chili sauce

  • 1/4 cup vegan sour cream


  1. In a small bowl, dissolve cane sugar in warm water. Mix gently and add yeast. Allow mixture to rest for 10 minutes.

  2. In a larger bowl, knead together the flour and margarine until mixture resembles small beads. Add yeast mixture and mix gently with a spoon. On a floured cutting board, knead dough until it's smooth and pliable. Form into a ball and place back into a larger bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about two hours.

  3. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil. Add seitan, salt, and pepper, and pan-fry for about 3 minutes on each side. In a medium bowl, mix hoisin sauce, chili sauce, and sour cream. Add fried seitan and set aside.

  4. On a cutting board sprinkled with baking powder, divide dough into 12 flat rounds. In the center of each round, add a heaping tablespoon of the seitan mixture. Pull the sides of the rounds up to completely encase the seitan mixture and twist the dough to seal.

  5. Fill a large saucepan 1/4 of the way with water, place over high heat, and bring to a boil. In a metal colander over the pot seam buns for about 15 minutes.

Recipe via Vegan Cha Siu Bao Recipe -

Thai Sweet Chili Sauce


  • 2 ounces fresh red chilies, roughly chopped (remove seeds if less heat is desired)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 4 cups sultanas, chopped (white raisins) (you can use thompsons but the color will be darker)
  • 1-2 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger (I usually add more)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon salt (to taste)


  1. Place chilies in a food processor with half the vinegar and process until the chilies are finely chopped.

  2. Do not be concerned if the chili seeds remain whole.

  3. Combine the chili and vinegar mixture with the remaining vinegar, and all other ingredients, in a small stainless steel saucepan (take care adding the salt- you can always add more later if you wish).

  4. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil briefly, then reduce temperature to allow the mixture to simmer gently until the chilies and sultanas are soft, about 15 to 20 minutes.

  5. When cool, puree until almost smooth.

  6. Pour into a suitably sized sterilized bottle and seal.

Recipe via Thai Sweet Chili Sauce Recipe -

Make Your Own Dumpling Dough

Photo credit: Kitchen Musings


  • 2 C flour
  • 1/2 C water (slightly more)
  • pinch of salt

Put flour into a bowl. Add water slowly while stirring with fork or chopsticks at the same time. Then knead well and leave to rest 30 mins. While waiting for the dough to rest, prepare the fillings. After 30 minutes, cut into 24 pieces. Roll each one out into a thin round. Sprinkle with flour to prevent them from sticking to each other.

Have you ever had vegetarian dim sum?

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    • archetekt lm profile image

      archetekt lm 

      4 years ago

      No I haven't yet but these look so good.

    • Infohouse profile image


      5 years ago

      Yes. I have had vegetarian dishes during regular dim sum.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I love dim sum. I wish I can make it everyday.

    • KilleenMcG profile image


      6 years ago from Warner, NH

      No, and I must change that soon! To say it looks delicious would be an understatement.

    • vermontmom profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens and yes, the Five Spice was a great restaurant. (You guessed it - I'm from Burlington, VT myself). Yummy!

    • hlkljgk profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Western Mass

      @costumesngifts: will do! thanks for stopping by. :)

    • costumesngifts profile image


      7 years ago

      What a very visually appealing article! I also love the topic, I'm a big fan of dim sum. As far as vegetarian dim sum is concerned, I've only tried dumplings with leeks (delicious!). I also love how you covered Korean mandu's. How about a vegetarian Japanese gyoza to complete the whole Asian cuisine? :)


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