Fun Yum Dim Sum

These Chinese "Tiny Bites" are make-ahead simple and irresistible to eat. Try one for dinner, or do them all for a dazzling finger-food party.
Fun Yum Dim Sum

Long before everyone started buzzing about tapas bars, the Chinese had perfected the art of small plates. Going for dim sum (“heart’s delight”) is a weekend event—possibly the original Sunday brunch—in any city with a thriving Chinese community. In tea houses and dim sum restaurants, diners can choose among the sweet and savory tiny bites piled onto carts and sample dumplings right from the steamers as they’re wheeled by. Jasmine tea is served in endless pots, and you can graze on as many little treats as you please. There are usually only a handful of vegetarian offerings at dim sum eateries; most are filled with meat and seafood. These recipes allow you to make vegetarian dim sum. All but one of the recipes can be assembled beforehand and refrigerated or frozen until cooking time. In fact, most of them can go directly from freezer to steamer by just adding a couple of minutes to the cooking time. So you can throw a few delicious dumplings into a steamer as a stir-fry sizzles on the stove—and take a weeknight meal from ordinary to extraordinary. Or you can throw a Chinese New Year cocktail party (this year, it’s on February 7) and serve them all. You’ll wow your guests—and still have time for one more egg roll and maybe another cup of tea.

GINGER-SHIITAKE POT STICKERS & RED CRYSTAL SAUCE
Makes about 28

This is a very dramatic dish—with the hissing steam and crackling oil, you can almost imagine you’re in Canton.

Pot Stickers
1 10-oz. pkg. reduced-fat firm tofu
0.5 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms
6 Tbs. pine nuts
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 inch ginger root, peeled and sliced (about 2 Tbs.)
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. cornstarch plus some extra
1 Tbs. orange zest
1/2 tsp. salt
28 gyoza wrappers
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 Tbs. canola oil

Red Crystal Sauce
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbs. finely shredded carrot
1 Tbs. crushed red pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

  1. To make Pot Stickers: Wrap tofu in paper towels; place on plate, cover with cutting board with canned goods on top. Let drain 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, submerge shiitakes in 3⁄4 cup boiling water; cover, and let soften 30 minutes. When soft, squeeze out water, trim stems and mince caps. Save mushroom soaking water.
  3. Crumble tofu into large bowl. Put 1⁄4 cup pine nuts, cilantro, ginger and garlic in food processor or blender, and mince. Add soy sauce, sugar and 1 tsp. cornstarch; process until smooth. Scrape mixture into tofu. Add orange zest, salt, mushrooms and remaining pine nuts. Knead with hands until mixture holds together when squeezed.
  4. Dust baking sheet with cornstarch. Arrange several gyoza wrappers on work surface. Place 1 Tbs. shiitake mixture in center of each. Brush half of edge with egg. Bring edges together to form half-moon; press to seal. Place pot stickers on baking sheet, and cover loosely with plastic while assembling the rest. Cover tightly with plastic; refrigerate up to 24 hours, or freeze.
  5. To make Red Crystal Sauce: Bring all ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute, stirring. Cool.
  6. To cook Pot Stickers: Heat 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat in each of 2 large nonstick skillets (or make in 2 batches, using 1 Tbs. oil per batch). Drop pot stickers into pan (close but not touching), and cook until bottoms are browned, about 3 minutes. Hold lid over most of pan, and carefully pour in half of shiitake soaking water; it will sizzle and steam. Cover, and reduce heat to medium. Cook about 8 minutes, checking pan and shaking occasionally to loosen pot stickers. If they get dry, add a little water. Remove pot stickers with spatula, and serve hot with bowls of dipping sauce.

PER POT STICKER: 56 CAL; 2G PROT; 2G TOTAL FAT (0G SAT. FAT); 8G CARB; 4MG CHOL; 150MG SOD; 1G FIBER; 3G SUGARS

EGGPLANT SHU MAI DUMPLINGS & CHILI SAUCE
Makes 24 – Vegan

Shu Mai are the easiest dumplings to make. If you can’t find round gyoza wrappers, use a biscuit cutter to trim won ton or egg roll skins into circles.

Dumplings
2 tsp. canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 tsp.)
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
1 lb. eggplant, peeled and finely chopped (4 cups)
2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs. black bean sauce
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
4 Tbs. minced cilantro
Cornstarch for dusting pan
24 gyoza wrappers

Chili Sauce
2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. brown sugar or honey
1 tsp. dark sesame oil
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1 red jalapeño

  1. To make Dumplings: Heat oil over medium-high heat in wok or nonstick skillet. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add eggplant, and stir-fry over high heat, 4 to 5 minutes, until very soft; add a little water if needed. Add soy sauce, bean sauce, sesame oil and cilantro; cook, stirring, until thick, about 1 minute. Let cool.
  2. Dust baking sheet with cornstarch. Arrange several gyoza wrappers on work surface. Put 2 tsp. filling in center of each; pull up sides into pleats, and plop on baking sheet, flattening bottom. Cover tightly with plastic; chill up to 24 hours, or freeze.
  3. To make Chili Sauce: Mix all ingredients; transfer to dipping bowls.
  4. To cook Dumplings: Lightly oil heat-proof plate or metal steamer insert. Steam shu mai—on plate set on cake cooling rack over boiling water or in steamer—8 minutes. Serve.

PER DUMPLING: 36 CAL; 1G PROT; 1G TOTAL FAT (0G SAT. FAT); 6G CARB; 1MG CHOL; 135MG SOD; 1G FIBER; 1G SUGARS

GARLICKY GREENS DUMPLINGS & SESAME SAUCE
Makes about 32

These dumplings are sure to be a hit, and they’re substantial enough to serve as a light meal. If you can’t find hot sesame oil, use regular sesame oil, and add 1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper.

Dumplings
2 tsp. hot sesame oil
4 cups snow peas, thinly sliced crosswise
8 cups mustard greens, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped
1/4 cup minced green onions
6 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 Tbs.)
2 Tbs. black bean sauce
1 Tbs. low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbs. honey
Cornstarch for dusting pan
32 gyoza wrappers
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Sesame Sauce
1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
2 Tbs. tahini
1 Tbs. creamy peanut butter
1 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. grated fresh ginger
2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. rice vinegar

  1. To make Dumplings: Heat oil in large wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add snow peas; stir-fry until softened, about 1 minute. Lower heat to medium; add mustard greens, and cook until just wilted, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in onions, garlic, bean sauce, tamari and honey. Cook, stirring occasionally, 7 to 10 minutes, until no liquid remains.
  2. Dust baking sheet with cornstarch. Arrange several gyoza wrappers on work surface. Put 1 Tbs. filling in center of each, and brush egg on half of edge. Bring edges together to form half-moon shape, and press to seal. Place dumplings on baking sheet; cover loosely with plastic while assembling the rest. Cover tightly with plastic, and refrigerate up to 24 hours, or freeze.
  3. To make Sesame Sauce: Whisk all ingredients in small pan, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and whisk until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool, and serve in small dipping bowls.
  4. To steam Dumplings: Lightly oil heat-proof plate or metal steamer insert. Cook dumplings—on plate set on cake cooling rack over boiling water or in steamer—8 minutes. Serve hot with sauce.

PER DUMPLING: 62 CAL; 2G PROT; 1.5G TOTAL FAT (0G SAT. FAT); 10G CARB; 5MG CHOL; 115MG SOD; 1G FIBER; 2G SUGARS

BAKED MINI EGG ROLLS & HOT MUSTARD SAUCE
Makes about 26

We all love crunchy, fried egg rolls but wish they were a little lower in fat. This version produces a crisp bitesized roll using just a bit of oil. For maximum crunch, assemble these just before you plan to cook them.

Egg Rolls
1 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. rice vinegar
1 tsp. cornstarch plus some extra
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup sliced water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame, thawed
2 Tbs. finely chopped roasted peanuts
1/2 tsp. dark sesame oil
26 won ton skins
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Hot Mustard Sauce
2 Tbs. powdered yellow mustard
1 Tbs. water
1 tsp. honey or rice syrup
1 tsp. rice vinegar

  1. To make Egg Rolls: Whisk soy sauce, vinegar and 1 tsp. cornstarch in bowl to blend; set aside.
  2. Warm large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; coat with cooking spray. Add cabbage and carrots; cook, stirring, until cabbage is softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, water chestnuts, edamame, peanuts and oil, stirring just until heated, about 1 minute. Add cornstarch mixture; cook, stirring, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to plate; cover, and chill about 20 minutes to slightly cool.
  3. To make Hot Mustard Sauce: Whisk all ingredients in bowl to blend, and transfer to dipping bowls.
  4. To assemble Egg Rolls: Place several won ton skins on work surface, with a corner of each facing you (in diamond shape). Brush top corner of each with egg. Put 1 Tbs. filling in center of each; fold bottom corner, then both side corners over filling, and roll up. Place egg rolls on baking sheet dusted with cornstarch, and cover loosely with plastic as you go.
  5. Preheat oven to 425F. Put second baking sheet in oven for 2 minutes. Remove it, coat with cooking spray then quickly put egg rolls on it. Spray rolls, and return to hot oven.
  6. Bake 10 minutes, flip rolls and bake 10 minutes more, or until golden brown. Serve with mustard sauce.

PER EGG ROLL: 46 CAL; 2G PROT; 1G TOTAL FAT (0G SAT. FAT); 6G CARB; 5MG CHOL; 80MG SOD; 1G FIBER; 1G SUGARS

APRICOT-GINGER WON TONS & LEMON-HONEY SAUCE
Makes 16

This crisp, fruity dessert won ton is a delicious surprise. Serve it with warm caramel sauce for a decadent twist. For cinnamon sugar, blend 1 Tbs. sugar with 1 tsp. cinnamon, or look for vanilla sugar at gourmet stores. You’ll need a candy or deep-fry thermometer.

Lemon-Honey Sauce
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup honey
2 Tbs. lemon zest

Won Tons
1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup chopped dry-roasted cashews
1/4 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1 Tbs. brown sugar
Cornstarch for dusting pan
16 won ton skins
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4 cups (about) vegetable oil
Cinnamon sugar or vanilla sugar

  1. To make Lemon-Honey Sauce: Bring all ingredients to a simmer, stirring constantly, until honey is just dissolved. Let cool.
  2. To make Won Tons: Put apricots, cashews, ginger and brown sugar in bowl, and knead until combined.
  3. Dust baking sheet with cornstarch. Arrange several won ton skins on work surface. Place 2 tsp. filling in center of each. Brush edges with egg, and fold to form triangle; press to seal. Pull farthest corners together, forming smaller triangle. Moisten one corner; press to seal. Place won tons on baking sheet. Cover tightly with plastic, and refrigerate up to 24 hours, or freeze.
  4. Line platter with paper towels. Pour enough oil into heavy large pot to reach 3 to 4 inches up sides. Heat on high until oil reaches 360F; reduce heat, but maintain temperature. Fry won tons, turning occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Dust with sugar. Serve immediately with sauce.

PER WONTON: 82 CAL; 1G PROT; 2.5G TOTAL FAT (0.5G SAT. FAT); 14G CARB; 3MG CHOL; 50MG SOD; 1G FIBER; 6G SUGARS

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comments

I hear you vegan coconut buns...I've sat through many a dim sum dinner with my Tofu Family Style from the menu (when I can finally chase a waiter down for one) ... Can't wait to try these recipes

Joanne - 2011-03-28 12:48:52

Yummy or as they say in Spain, jummy!!!!!

Deb - 2008-04-11 08:54:24

Caroline- try making these with rice paper instead of wonton wrappers. You need to dip them in very hot water for a couple seconds to soften them, and I don't know about frying them but they should be good just softened. Good luck!

Diane - 2008-02-05 22:20:27

Hi, Every year my family goes for dim sum and I watch them eat while I eat my menu-ordered tofu dish. It's ok, but the thing I miss most are those amazing dessert dim sum coconut buns. Anyone got a recipe for a vegan version???

vegan coconut buns - 2008-02-05 16:47:24

yum!

yona - 2008-02-05 14:59:09

Sounds good but what a bummer for those of 1/133 of us with celiac disease who can't digest wheat.

Caroline Lomba - 2008-02-05 13:34:49