Dim Sum Recipe #7: Shiitake & Napa Cabbage Dumplings

If you’ve been to a dim sum tea lunch, you’ve probably noticed that it’s a truly carnivorous affair…a pork lover’s fantasy, to put it simply.  The exceptions to this might be some braised tofu or bean curd specialties, some bright green stalks of Chinese broccoli (minus the oyster sauce), or the occasional deep-fried veggie egg roll.  Even many of the desserts are made with animal-based ingredients like lard or gelatin.

Vegetarian dumplings are certainly available at dim sum restaurants, but for some reason they don’t have iconic or distinctive names like Siu Mai or Ha Gao do.  I came across a Vegetarian Dumpling Recipe from an Asian food blog that I love called Coriander & Garlic, written by a gal with the pen name, Swisspris.  After a quick run to the market this weekend and a minimal amount of time in the kitchen, I was in vegetarian dumpling heaven.  The recipe was incredibly delicious and just as tasty as the ones that come off of those hot, steaming dim sum trolleys!

My recipe for Shiitake & Napa Cabbage Dumplings is adapted from the Steamed Vegetarian Dumpling recipe over at Coriander & Garlic, with 2 of my favorite ingredients added in:  shiitake mushrooms and, of course…tea!

Fresh shiitake mushrooms are hands down my favorite Chinese vegetable.  I love every bite of them.  They have a meat-like flavor with a dense bite that you can really sink your teeth into.  Since the original recipe at Coriander & Garlic calls for vegetarian oyster sauce (a.k.a. vegetarian stir-fry sauce in the US) which is made with mushroom essence, the shiitakes are a welcome addition here.

I’ve also steamed the dumplings in a strong green tea base.  This steaming method gives a slight tinge of color to the dumpling skins, but more importantly it lends a very gentle, fresh fragrance to the dumplings.

Green teas are often described by tea experts and sommeliers as “vegetal,” which is exactly why I even thought to use the brew for steaming these dumplings.  Today I’m using an organic Chinese green tea called Chun Mee for steaming these veggie pockets. Chun Mee has a bright, grassy flavor with a layer of smokey depth, so it’s the ideal tea for showcasing the delicate Napa cabbage, sweet carrots, and earthy shiitake mushrooms.

Shiitake & Napa Dumplings chun mee

You can steam any dumpling with tea, just chose one that complements the ingredients being used.  For a meat-based dumpling, I would consider using an oolong or even a Chinese black tea, as the flavors in the tea will be stronger, and bold enough to shine through.

Since we are showcasing the dumpling and not the tea by itself, it’s fine to use the more common, supermarket variety of tea here.  The tea bag form also helps to make cleanup much easier.  Save your best quality, full leaf teas for drinking.  The humble (and economical) everyday green tea bag will work great here.

Part of the charm of making dumplings is that you can play around with how you package them up.  My creations have taken on a pointy triangle looking shape, which were a bit easier and faster for me to get right.  Swisspris’ pleated version were so perfectly executed that I just didn’t even want to go there.

Please also check out Coriander & Garlic’s simple recipe for a black vinegar-based dipping sauce to serve with these dumplings.  Puckeringly tasty and healthy, the sauce helps to bring all the mild veggie flavors to life.

Celebrate springtime’s bounty of Chinese vegetables with a batch of steamy Shiitake & Napa Cabbage Dumplings!   Thanks to a very delicious recipe adapted from the Coriander & Garlic blog, I’m happy to say that this is a time where both the words healthy and delicious can be used to describe this easy Chinese meal.  Thank you Swisspris!!

Dim Sum Recipe #7:  Shiitake & Napa Cabbage Dumplings

Adapted from the Steamed Vegetarian Dumpling recipe at Coriander & Garlic blog. 

Makes about 30 dumplings.


4 Napa cabbage leaves, sliced thinly

1 medium carrot, peeled and shredded

1 tsp salt

8 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and diced into 1/4″ pieces

1 Tbsp vegetable oil

2 tsp light soy sauce

7 oz of firm tofu, well-drained and squeezed into a course purée

2 Tbsp vegetarian stir-fry sauce (also called vegetarian oyster sauce, I used Lee Kum Kee brand)

1 tsp sesame oil

1/4 tsp white pepper

1/2 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp grated garlic

extra Napa cabbage leaves and shiitake mushrooms, for serving on the side (optional)

30 round potsticker wrappers

small cup of water for sealing potstickers

4 cups of water

5 green tea bags (I used Tazo’s Chun Mee)


large strainer

grater, for carrots

large mixing bowl

large bamboo steamer, fitted with perforated parchment paper

wok with slightly larger diameter than steamer OR a stockpot with exactly the same diameter as the steamer

1 Tablespoon measure

small pastry brush (optional)

large work surface for making dumplings

water thermometer

measuring cup


1.)  Place wok on high heat, and add the vegetable oil.  When hot oil starts to shimmer, add all the diced shiitake mushrooms.  Stir-fry the mushrooms for about a minute, then add 2 tsp of soy sauce to the cooking mushrooms.  Continue to cook on high heat until much of the excess moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms look slightly browned.  This will take about 4-5 minutes.  Place the cooked mushrooms into a large bowl to cool, and set aside.

2.)  Place the Napa cabbage and carrot into a large strainer and sprinkle with 1 tsp of salt.  Mix the salt in evenly and let this sit for 10 minutes in the sink to drain off excess water from the vegetables.  After 10 minutes, rinse the Napa and carrots in running water, then use your hands to squeeze out any extra moisture in them (this takes some hand/arm strength).

3.)  Add the Napa, carrots, tofu, vegetarian oyster sauce, sesame oil, white pepper, sugar, and garlic to the mushrooms sitting in the mixing bowl.  Mix the ingredients together thoroughly.

4.)  Lay out dumpling wrappers on a large work surface, then fill them with 1 Tbsp of the filling. Use a small pastry brush (or your fingers) to dab the edges of the wrappers with water, then seal the dumplings.  For easier wrapping, it’s helpful to form the filling in a triangle shape before sealing the wrapper edges (please see picture below).

5.)  Place the dumplings in a bamboo steamer lined with perforated parchment, at least a 1/2″ apart from one another.

If you have a double layered steamer and have extra shiitake mushrooms and Napa cabbage, place them in the extra steamer to tea-steam along with the dumplings!

6.)  Place the wok on high heat and add 4 cups of water.  Monitor the water heat with the thermometer.  When the thermometer registers about 175 degrees F, shut off the heat and add the 5 tea bags in to steep.  Leave the tea bags to soak for about 3 minutes, then remove them.

Now bring the tea up to a full rolling boil over high heat.

7.)  Place the steamer of dumplings (and the steamer of shiitake and Napa, if using) over the boiling water to steam for 10 minutes.  Serve the dumplings with black-vinegar dipping sauce and enjoy!

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Girl, you always leave me hungry with your posts. I love Shitake too and would have added it to my dumplings as well if not because my daughter hates mushrooms. I cannot understand that. But I especially love how you steamed the dumplings over tea. I can just imagine the mild grassy flavour….mmmm….. Thanks for trying out the recipe and giving it such a positive review! Means a lot to me 🙂


I bet when your daughter gets older she’ll learn to love them! Thanks again for the recipe. Was so delicious, I’m glad I could share it with others!! =)


These dumplings look perfect and cute. It is so nice that you wrapped them in a triangle shape. The green tea steaming also sounds way cool! I got to try this. Enjoy your weekend!

Patty Nguyen

Oh dim sum…how I wish I could have it every day for lunch. Your dumplings look great, Bonnie! Each one is perfectly filled and shaped! You’re a rockstar. How’s your studmuffin doing by the way? Is he still resisting photos? Tell him that Bailey can relate! 😉


Hey Patty! Studmuffin is doing really well! I’ve been super nice to him in the evenings (snuggling, petting, giving him treats), to compensate for the daytime when I’m taking pictures and he is being ignored. When I notice he’s getting super moody I shift the lens over to him to try to capture his grumpiest expressions. He usually walks away at that point. Bailey and Fred should really meet someday…they’d have lots to discuss! =)


They are really delicious! You can cook them like you would pan fried gyoza too, with a hot pan and a bit of oil. Hope you and your husband can try them sometime soon–thanks so much for stopping by! =)


Fabulous recipe! I love any type of miniature food, but dumplings must be amongst my favouritest! This recipe together with you fabulous quail egg sandwich recipe reminds me: a great little side dish for a dim sum spread are quail tea eggs (I have a recipe on my blog – ever so easy!)

Margie Ann Stanko

As usual, beautiful presentation and unique twist. I’ve become a real fan.

I’ve a question, Bonnie. I’m allergic to soy, so tofu is out of the question. Any suggestions for a suitable substitute?


Margie Ann


Hey There Margie Ann!
So since you are allergic to soy I would suggest sweet peas as a good substitute for the tofu. Peas have some starch in them, which will act like a binder for the filling like the tofu does. I would use about 1/3 cup and lightly mash them with a fork, then mix them into the filling. Fresh, frozen, or even canned peas will work just fine. Hope this helps and thanks for stopping by! 🙂