Vegan Steamed Dumplings: Vegan Siu Mai

This is such an easy, healthy, well-known Chinese dish, that you would be a fool not to make it. And the nice thing is, you can sub the ingredients for whatever vegetables you like, and you can even add tofu if you please! The nice thing about these dumplings is that you do not need to know intimidating folds since the tops of these dumplings are just pinched shut and are supposed to left a little open at the top.

To start with, let’s talk about two ingredients that you will probably need to venture out to your local asian market to find. The first is dried shiitake mushrooms. You can use fresh if you like, so this is not a necessity. The second is salted turnip, or salted radish as it is also called. I found this in the fermented refrigerated section of the asian market. Look for one that just has salt and turnip/radish, no preservatives.

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To start with, you will need five dried mushrooms and a quarter sized piece of ginger that has been crushed, but still whole. In a pot of water, boil them both at simmer for about 15 minutes.

Drain them, and cut off any stems on the mushrooms, and then finely chop both the mushroom and ginger. Next, you’ll need some green cabbage. Save the outer layers of the cabbage to use in your bamboo steamer as a liner. Once, you’ve peeled those layers off, finely chop enough cabbage to make 1 & 1/2 cups worth. Finely mince two cloves of garlic as well, and then put both into a nonstick pan with about 3/4 cup of water over medium-high heat. Saute them until the cabbage has softened and there is no more water left in the pan. Stir often to ensure no burning occurs. We’re using the cabbage as a nice filler since we are not using meat. You could lower the amount of cabbage and add tofu for a meatier dumpling!

Now, to chop up all the other veggies! We already have chopped ginger and mushrooms, now you need to finely mince about seven water chestnuts, a large handful of cilantro, a small red bell pepper (see next picture), and two pieces of salted radish. This is another way you can make the dumplings your own, but using whatever vegetables you like! I’ve seen people use carrots, green onion, and other vegetables that may be more in season.


Next is the seasoning for the veggie mix. You’ll need half a tablespoon of cornstarch, half a teaspoon of teriyaki sauce, half a tablespoon of light soy sauce, and half a teaspoon of cooking sherry. Mix it all together in a bowl with your veggies and you are good to start making the dumplings! This is the fun part!

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Line a bamboo steamer with cabbage or parchment paper. You can use either round or square wonton wrappers, but I prefer the round ones when making these dumplings. The most important part is to make sure they were not made with eggs! Have a small bowl of water next to you to wet the edges of the wontons to help them stay closed.

Take your finger and dip it lightly in some water, and rub the outer edges of the wonton wrapper to lightly moisten it. Add about a tablespoon of filling to the middle and then pull all the edges up, letting them naturally pleat, and being sure that the filling isn’t overflowing. Put them in the bamboo steamer and try to keep them from touching each other so they don’t stick when they cook and risk tearing.


Fill a wok or pan with about an inch or two of water, depending on how big your steamer is. The point is, you don’t want the water to touch the food on the bottom when it boils. You need the water level high enough so that the water doesn’t run out while cooking, but if your water level does get low, just add some more and add a couple minutes that you lose waiting for the water to reboil. Keep it at a gentle boil the whole time you cook, and don’t add the bamboo pot till it is boiling! Steam your dumplings for 15 minutes.


Once they are done, carefully take them out of the steamer, serve immediately with some light soy sauce. You can add sesame seeds, green onions, or even some red pepper flakes for spice!

The Ingredients: (makes about 2 dozen)

  • Five dried shiitake mushrooms (or use fresh)
  • Quarter size piece of fresh ginger, peeled and crushed
  • Salted Radish/Turnip, two pieces
  • Green cabbage, outer leaves for steamer lining and 1&1/2 cup finely chopped for dumplings
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 small baby bell pepper (see picture above)
  • Handful of cilantro
  • 7 water chestnuts
  • Vegan wonton wrappers, I prefer round, but you can use square
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp teriyaki sauce
  • 1/2 tsp cooking sherry
  • 1/2 Tbsp light soy sauce, plus extra for dipping
  • Optional: green onions, sesame seeds, red pepper flakes to put in soy sauce for dipping

The Method:

  1. To start with, you will need five dried mushrooms and a quarter sized piece of ginger that has been crushed, but still whole. In a pot of water, boil them both at simmer for about 15 minutes.
  2. Drain them, and cut off any stems on the mushrooms, and then finely chop both the mushroom and ginger.
  3. Next, you’ll need some green cabbage. Save the outer layers of the cabbage to use in your bamboo steamer as a liner. Once, you’ve peeled those layers off, finely chop enough cabbage to make 1 & 1/2 cups worth. Finely mince two cloves of garlic as well, and then put both into a nonstick pan with about 3/4 cup of water over medium-high heat. Saute them until the cabbage has softened and there is no more water left in the pan. Stir often to ensure no burning occurs.
  4. Finely mince about seven water chestnuts, a large handful of cilantro, a small red bell pepper, and two pieces of salted radish.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, add half a tablespoon of cornstarch, half a teaspoon of teriyaki sauce, half a tablespoon of light soy sauce, and half a teaspoon of cooking sherry. Mix it all together with your veggies.
  6. Fill a small bowl with water to use to wet the edges of the wontons. Take one wrapper at a time, and with your finger, lightly wet the edges of the wonton, this will make it easier to form and pleat. Add about a tablespoon of filling to the middle and then pull all the edges up, letting them naturally pleat, and being sure that the filling isn’t overflowing. Put them in the bamboo steamer and try to keep them from touching each other so they don’t stick when they cook and risk tearing. See pictures above to see how they should look.
  7. Fill a wok or pan with about an inch or two of water, depending on how big your steamer is. The point is, you don’t want the water to touch the food on the bottom when it boils. You need the water level high enough so that the water doesn’t run out while cooking, but if your water level does get low, just add some more and add a couple minutes that you lose waiting for the water to reboil. Keep it at a gentle boil the whole time you cook, and don’t add the bamboo pot till it is boiling! Steam your dumplings for 15 minutes.
  8. Once they are done, carefully take them out of the steamer, serve immediately with some light soy sauce. You can add sesame seeds, green onions, or even some red pepper flakes for spice!
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