Whereas boiled dumplings have crinkly skins that are tender from having been immersed in hot water, and panfried dumplings have skins that are a combination of crisp bottom and chewy top, steamed dumplings are texturally in between—the skins are slightly chewy and soft. Gentle steam heat also protects the filling flavor and you taste it more, a bonus for delicate combinations such as this one.
Unlike many other Chinese dumpling fillings, this vegetarian filling is cooked first to allow the cornstarch to work its cohesive magic, binding the vegetables and pressed tofu together so that they are easier to control when you are assembling the dumplings. I like to use some of the liquid from soaking the mushrooms to season the filling with an earthy savor; if you do too, remember to strain the heady liquid through cheesecloth or paper towel to remove any bits of grit.
Watch Andrea Nguyen demonstrate how to wrap a dumpling in this CHOW video.
This recipe was featured as part of our Chinese New Year Dishes for Valentine’s Day photo gallery.