Vegetarian Potstickers (Gyoza) – Recipe

Vegetarian Potstickers
Vegetarian potstickers (aka gyoza)

The first rule of potstickers is that you can never make enough potstickers. At least in my family, we fight over the last few like seagulls over a spilled bag of kettle corn.

If you haven't had them, potstickers are Chinese or Japanese pan-fried dumplings with a savory filling, dipped in a soy, vinegar and sesame oil sauce. What is not to like? Plan on making a minimum of 4 per person as an appetizer, but really you could make a whole meal of a big plate of potstickers along with a salad or two and a beer and I bet you wouldn't get any complaints.

Potstickers aren't really about the filling. The main event is the dumpling wrapper itself, which gets deeply caramelized on the bottom. The most common meat filling is a mashed mixture of pork and shrimp. Which pretty much tells you right there, you aren't going for a distinct flavor inside. The goal is to make something with an umami bass note and a firm, toothsome texture.

Where most vegetarian potstickers go wrong is by trying to use too many vegetables in the filling. I've had godawful versions stuffed with spinach, or lots of water chestnuts and so forth. This is not the place for a distracting crunch, and you certainly don't want it leaching water. My filling of choice is tempeh. I saute it first to develop the flavor, and then crumble it and mash it with the other ingredients. It gives just the right bite.

Potstickers get their name because of the unusual cooking technique. The dumplings are first fried in a lightly oiled pan until they brown and stick a bit. Then water is added and the pan covered to steam the tops and release the bottoms. Finally, the lid is removed and the remaining water cooked off.

Other names for potstickers: Jiaozi (Chinese, pretty much any dumpling), guotie (Chinese, specifically pan-fried dumplings), gyoza (Japanese, any dumpling), yaki-gyoza (again, pan-fried).

If for some reason you don't need the whole batch at once, quick freeze them without touching each other, then bag when solid. They can be cooked later without defrosting, just allow a little more time. I have a few frozen right now and it is positively killing me not to go cook them off at 11 PM after finishing this post!

Vegetarian Potstickers (Gyoza) – Recipe
Vegetarian and vegan
Makes about 48 dumplings

For the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup good quality soy sauce / shoyu / tamari
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons hot-chili sesame oil (or 1-2 teaspoons plain Chinese sesame oil and 1/2 teaspoon chili paste)
  • 1 green onion, whites parts only, cut into tiny thin rings
  1. Combine all ingredients, taste for salt/vinegar/heat balance and set aside. I like mine pretty vinegary.

For the potstickers (gyoza):

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound tempeh, cut into thin slabs
  • 1 cup very thinly sliced Napa or green cabbage
  • 6 green onions, white and light green parts only, minced
  • 4 teaspoons Chinese rice wine (sherry is a good substitute)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 48 potsticker wrappers (that is about one normal package; if possible choose a "thick" variety)
  1. Heat a large skillet, preferably cast iron, with a tight-fitting lid, over a medium-high flame. Add 2 tablespoons of oil. Fry the tempeh in a single layer, working in batches if needed, until golden brown on both sides. Set aside to cool.
  2. Fry the cabbage for a few minutes until browned and most water removed. Turn off the heat.
  3. Thoroughly crumble the tempeh into a bowl. Combine it with the cabbage, green onions, rice wine or sherry and soy sauce. Taste and adjust salt as needed. You can also add more rice wine or soy, but don't make it too wet. When you are satisfied with the taste, sprinkle in the cornstarch and toss thoroughly to combine. (This will absorb any water released when the dumplings are cooked).
  4. To form the potsticker dumplings, take one wrapper and moisten the entire edge with a fingertip or pastry brush dipped in water. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the center. Pick it up, fold in half, and seal the edge. Crimp if you like. If you want to be a pro-crimper, see this post from Jaden. Set on a plate or sheet pan, crimp side up and flat side down.
  5. To cook the potstickers, heat that big skillet back up again to medium-high and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Put the potstickers in in a single layer, flat side down, not touching but they can be close. Fry 1-2 minutes until they are dark golden brown on the bottom. Add 1/3 cup of water and cover the pan. Cook about 3 minutes. Remove the lid and keep cooking until the water is totally gone – otherwise they won't be crispy.
  6. Serve hot, with the dipping sauce.
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Posted by Michael Natkin on Thursday, March 4th, 2010 in Appetizers, Favorites, Kid Friendly, Recipes, Vegan or Modifiable.

47 Responses to “Vegetarian Potstickers (Gyoza) – Recipe”

  1. March 4, 2010 at 7:21 am #

    “The first rule of potstickers is that you can never make enough potstickers.” Amen to that!

  2. March 4, 2010 at 8:16 am #

    lovely!
    As I told you yesterday I tried my gyozas (well, guotie to be honest) with seitan and mushrooms and they were really tasty!
    Your recipe is definitely more Jap-style than mine so I’ll surely try, thanks! ;)

  3. Michael Natkin
    March 4, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    I think your filling sounds good too!

  4. March 4, 2010 at 12:18 pm #

    Love the idea of tempeh in the filling! I always order gyoza in restaurants but have been fiddling with a meatless version with mixed results – a little too watery, not enough flavor distinction.

  5. March 4, 2010 at 12:39 pm #

    Just found your blog through foodgawker, and I’m so glad I did. The recipe looks amazing! I can’t wait to try them!

  6. March 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm #

    Yum Yum Yum!! I love vegetarian gyoza… great recipe!!

  7. March 4, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    Looks so good. I have to confess, the frozen ones at Trader Joe’s are a freezer staple of mine, but it’s good to know how to make real ones. I’m sure they are so much better!

  8. March 5, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    looks perfect!!

  9. March 5, 2010 at 2:08 am #

    I love Gyoza and it is so difficult to find some good vegetarian ones….actually, quite difficult to find them in Japan! But I didn’t know that they were also called potstickers :-)

  10. March 5, 2010 at 12:10 pm #

    I love potstickers. So good. I fill mine with bok choy, baked tofu and shitake mushrooms… of course along with garlic and ginger. I actually was planning on making some tonight… before even reading this post. Been looking forward to them all week.

  11. March 5, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    You are my new best friend! There is a place in my city that serves these and I was looking for a recipe for them. I’ve stolen your recipe and using it this weekend :)

  12. Ambuja W
    March 6, 2010 at 11:00 am #

    “The first rule of potstickers is that you can never make enough potstickers.”

    I found that out the hard way when i made them for the first time a few weeks ago. Made a mental note to double the recipe next time! Love the idea of tempeh. Will try that next time!

  13. March 6, 2010 at 6:52 pm #

    I have been looking all over for potsticker recipes-I love that I came across this vegetarian version! I will definitely be trying these out soon-thanks so much for posting :)

  14. March 7, 2010 at 11:07 am #

    Oh the tempeh is a GREAT idea! I love them with mushrooms, but they have to be well cooked and pulverized somehow so there’s no water-y-ness in the dumplings. I’m going to have to try tempeh!

  15. March 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm #

    I crave dumplings at least twice a week and usually end up succumbing to the dumpling place around the corner, but on the off occasion that I make them, I use a filler made of chopped seitan, ginger, and kimchi [so I guess that makes it mandoo and not gyoza, eh?]. I will definitely try your filler though, I bet tempeh lends a great texture!

  16. Michael Natkin
    March 7, 2010 at 2:08 pm #

    Your filling sounds delicious! Are you vegetarian? If so, have you found a veg brand of kimchi that you like? I haven't had much luck. Or do you make your own?

  17. March 7, 2010 at 2:29 pm #

    replied via email [oops?], but the one prepackaged kimchi we found and liked okay had an asian lady on the front

  18. March 8, 2010 at 8:15 am #

    i had to join in the praising of this recipe! made them last night and they were gone in a flash! silly me, thought i made too many and would have to freeze them – ha!

  19. March 8, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    Hi, thanks for the good filling ideas :D Your recipes and photos are definitely among the vegetarian high class.

    But I do have 2 remarks: first of all, Chinese Jiaozi are NOT potstickers, they are always boiled in a big pot like pierogi. I come from Poland so I know my way around with the latter, and I made Jiaozi already together with Chinese friends, so I know that too.

    Second, which results from the first, I know how to make those “wrappers” and all you need is (preferably high protein) flour, water and lots of kneading and rolling out :) Some gyoza skins may contain eggs, but this is not generally common, the trick is the high protein flour, the eggs are sometimes used if the flour does not have high quality. The “wrappers” are only sold as a time saving short cut, it may be even healthier to prepare them at home, since some Asian convenience products tend to contain not so healthy additives, which are not always listed :/

    It is not difficult to prepare those wrappers, if you ever made Polish pierogi (link to en.wikipedia.org), you can make homemade Jiaozi wrappers too, those are just thinner and more springy (the high protein trick). I admit I use the Jiaozi dough method at home when I make pierogi since I saw the great results, and it is also good when eggs are a problem for health reasons or for vegans.

  20. March 8, 2010 at 6:55 pm #

    It seems the Wikipedia link does not work for some strange reason, so here :): link to en.wikipedia.org

  21. Michael Natkin
    March 8, 2010 at 7:24 pm #

    Thanks for the encouragement to make our own wrappers, it sounds fun. I've never made pierogi, but it doesn't sound intimidating. Re the name, see the wikipedia page for Jiaozi under the Chinese section – link to en.wikipedia.org – jiaozi is generic for dumpling, there are subvariants for steamed (shuijiao), pan fried (guotie), and boiled (zhengjiao).

  22. Lian
    March 9, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    Good Recipe,
    But there is definitely an american perspective here, also if you really believe that this traditional Chinese dish is based on a “umami” mass, i really don’t know what to say.

    Potstickers are traditionally made after dumplings are boiled first, like leftovers. Also, you should be looking for a even taste with the filling, not chunks of ingredients, so a food processor is more fitting here for the cabbage and scallions.

    Methodology for the actual cooking is very spot on.

  23. March 10, 2010 at 10:41 am #

    I love love dumplings of all sorts. Never tried potstickers with tempeh, but I can imagine it adds some nice heft to the filling.

  24. Kate
    March 14, 2010 at 12:18 am #

    I’ve been a quiet reader of your wonderful blog for a while… you are always so inspiring for my veggie needs. I usually rely on TJ’s frozen gyozas, yet I made these tonight and as always your professional tips helped a lot — thanks Michael!

  25. March 18, 2010 at 6:56 am #

    There definitely can never be enough gyoza! In China I ordered them by weight and made many a meal out of them.

    When my husband & I make gyoza, we make about 100. No joke. It’s a Sunday afternoon with a movie affair to roll them all up. I’ve been using marinated and crumbled extra-firm tofu, but I’m intrigued by using Tempeh. I think it’s it would be perfect in Gyoza. I usually stick finely minced carrots in mine as well.

  26. julie chang
    March 25, 2010 at 8:32 pm #

    I substituted homemade kimchee for the cabbage, chopped and well-squeezed to remove moisture. Instead of crumbling the tempeh, next time I will try processing about half to give it a better texture, not so crumbly. Also, a tablespoon of corn or potato starch in the water for steaming will add extra crispyness to the bottoms of the potstickers.

  27. Michael Natkin
    March 25, 2010 at 9:09 pm #

    @julie – Thanks for the interesting tip about adding the starch, I could see how that would work.

  28. June 11, 2010 at 4:03 am #

    That’s a beautiful recipe!

    I took a liking to this kind of food while living in Japan.

    Tempura is another favorite of mine.

    Nicely presented post +_+

  29. Michael Natkin
    June 15, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    Thanks, Axel! I've got another kind of potsticker coming up soon, Korean style.

  30. Tina Lee
    January 30, 2011 at 2:36 am #

    I make this gyoza few days ago. It tasted delicious. I couldn’t find ready made gyoza skin locally, hence I prepared it from scratch. The skin turns out fine and not too doughy. The trick of getting paper thin skin is using the dimsum “>http://www.bakingfrenzy.com/bamboo-rolling-pin-p-340.html”> wooden rolling pin which allows me to apply equal pressure on the dough to get the paper thin edge. This gyoza go well with Japanese Gyoza dipping sauce.

  31. Stephanie
    February 6, 2011 at 5:11 pm #

    We made these for Super Bowl today, they were great, the second package of tempeh I bought looked like it had gone off, so I substituted an equal amount of extra firm tofu also fried up in advance of incorporating it. I cooked the first dozen the way you instructed, and they were great, but stuck pretty badly and therefore several of them broke apart, so I just copped out and steamed the rest of them, but they were all delicious and a fun party food :) Thanks!

  32. Michael Natkin
    February 7, 2011 at 4:31 pm #

    I'm glad you liked them! And I'm wondering why you had sticking issues. Were you careful to cook until the water was completely gone at step 5? That tends to be key.

    Thanks,
    Michael

  33. lily
    May 1, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    yea those trader joe’s freezer gyoza have gotten me in a lot of trouble

  34. Sabrina
    November 22, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Hi Michael, quick question… What does tempeh taste like? Is it similar to tofu? And what brand do you recommend?

    • Michael Natkin
      November 22, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

      Hey Brina – tempeh is quite a bit different from tofu. It is more dense and has a pronounced flavor. I like it best when it is well browned in a hot pan with plenty of oil. No specific brand recommendations. Usually Whole Foods or similar stores will have one or two choices.

  35. July 13, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    I love love dumplings! Never tried potstickers with tempeh, but am sure it is in the works here shortly. Thanks for sharing this on http://grubodex.com!

  36. July 14, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    Oh lord, vegetarian potstickers, yumm!!
    link to grubodex.com

  37. Michelle
    January 20, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    These potstickers are excellent!
    I decided to freeze some, just to keep myself from eating them all in one sitting. They freeze very well, and cook up just as tasty from frozen.

    Thanks Julie, I look forward to trying kimchee in my next batch.

  38. Penny F.
    January 23, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Michelle I was wondering about freezing these…did you cook them up first then freeze or freeze
    before frying?

    • January 23, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      You should freeze them raw, in a single layer not touching each other on a baking sheet, then when they are frozen you can put them in a bag. Fry them up just before serving – the instructions in the recipe will work just fine, it will just take slightly longer.

      • Penny F.
        January 23, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

        Thanks, that was what I had hoped to do. I’m looking forward to trying these!

        • Michelle
          January 31, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

          Yes I did what Michael said, & having them in your freezer is a gift that keeps on giving. Great for a spontaneous meal that will impress!

  39. smt
    March 18, 2013 at 11:43 am #

    How thin do you slice the tempeh before frying it?

  40. vanessa
    July 8, 2013 at 7:39 pm #

    made these tonight, good stuff! added a little fresh ginger. thanks for the recipe.

  41. Jamie
    September 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm #

    I bet seitan could be a good substitute for tempeh.

    • September 8, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

      Yep, it would be a bit different texture, more chewy, but I agree it could be very good.

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