If you like japchae and dumplings, this recipe is for you! I’ve been looking for meatless vegetarian dumpling options and noticed that they’re almost non-existent in the frozen section of my local Asian supermarkets, so I decided to put matters in my own hands and make my own.
These dumplings are delicious on their own, but I recommend serving these with my Korean dipping sauce on the side. In my opinion, a dipping sauce is essential for dumplings!
I deep-fried these because everything tastes better deep-fried but you can also pan-fry, air-fry, or boil them. This recipe is easily customizable because you can use any kind of vegetables you want. I stuck with the traditional vegetable ingredients in japchae, which include onions, carrots, wood ear mushrooms, spinach, and scallions. To add a hint of spice, I also added a hot red pepper to the filling, but this is completely optional.
Needless to say, I made a huge batch and stored them in the freezer so that I could have them as a quick lunch or dinner whenever I wanted! 🙂
Why you’ll love this recipe
Soft and chewy interior with a crispy golden exterior – what more can you want from a dumpling? You can find japchae dumplings at the store, but they all contain meat. Also, nothing beats making them at home since you can adjust the taste and ingredients according to your preferences.
Considering the dumplings are also made from budget-friendly pantry staples, you can make a big batch that can last for months in the freezer. Using pre-made dumpling wrappers, which can be found in the Asian market, will speed up the process since you don’t have to make them from scratch. Wrapping the dumplings is the most time-consuming part but if you have a helping hand, you’ll be done in no time!
Ingredients & Substitutions
Dumpling wrappers: pre-made or store-bought dumpling wrappers are easier to use. You can usually find them at your local Asian grocery stores.
Dried glass noodles: dried glass noodles or ‘dangmyun’ are sweet potato noodles that are essential for japchae. You can find them at your local Asian market or on Amazon.
Spinach: spinach is a classic japchae vegetable ingredient. Not only does it add freshness to the filling, but it also adds a green color to the japchae.
Dried wood ear mushrooms: personally, I love wood ear mushrooms because they have a bite to it. Texturally, they complement and balance out the tenderness of the noodles. You can find dried wood ear mushrooms at most Asian grocery stores or on Amazon. When selecting the mushrooms, try to go for ones that are smaller in size – those taste better than the bigger ones.
Onions: onions are also a classic japchae ingredient. When cooked, they’re tender and add a subtle natural sweetness.
Carrots: carrots provide a hint of sweetness and color to the noodle filling. If you don’t have it, you can omit it or replace it with other vegetables, like zucchini.
Scallions: scallions add a depth of flavor and color to the filling. You can also replace them with chives or more onions.
Garlic: garlic is essential in japchae so you know we can’t leave this one out!
Hot red pepper: to add a spice kick, you can never go wrong with chopped hot red peppers. But you can also replace it with any spicy pepper of your choice, including jalapeno, serrano, or Thai chili peppers.
Soy sauce: soy sauce builds the flavors of the japchae filling. If you want to, you can use a combination of soy sauce and a pinch of salt.
Dark soy sauce: dark soy sauce gives the japchae filling a darker color and flavor. But you can substitute it with regular soy sauce if you don’t mind the color.
Sesame oil: sesame oil adds a nutty flavor to the dumplings. You’ll need a good amount of sesame oil, which is never a bad thing.
Sugar: the sugar helps to balance out all the saltiness in the filling. Japchae is traditionally on the sweeter side so if you prefer a filling that is not as sweet, be sure to adjust the amount of sugar added.
Sesame seeds: sesame seeds amplify the sesame flavor in the filling and also add a textural crunch, You can omit them if you don’t have any on hand.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG): adding MSG is completely optional, but it builds the umami, sweet, and salty flavors of the filling.
How do I prepare Japchae Dumplings?
Get your hands ready because you’ll be hand-wrapping these tasty dumplings! The results are definitely worth it, so to start just follow the steps below:
Step 1: Prepare the mushroom
Rehydrate the dried wood ear mushrooms by soaking them in water for 20 minutes. Once the time is up, rinse and drain the water. Next, chop the mushrooms up into small pieces and set them aside.
Step 2: Saute the onions
Heat a pan over medium heat and add oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for 1 minute.
Step 3: Saute the vegetables
Once the onions are cooked, toss in the carrots, wood ear mushrooms, spinach, and scallions. Let them cook for about 2 to 3 minutes, while also making sure to season them with salt and pepper. Once they’re cooked, remove them from the pan and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
Step 4: Cook the glass noodles
In a pot with boiling water, cook the glass noodles according to the package instructions. Once they’re done, rinse them thoroughly under cold water. Drain the noodles well. Using a scissor, cut them into 1/2 – 1 inch pieces.
Step 5: Combine the filling
In the large mixing bowl with the vegetables, add the noodles, minced garlic, and chopped peppers.
Step 6: Season the filling
Season the mixture with soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, MSG, salt, and pepper. Mix together until they’re fully combined. Be sure to taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning according to your preferences.
Step 7: Prepare the wrapping station
Prepare a small bowl of water. Take a dumpling wrapper and add about 1 tablespoon of the filling. Then, dip your finger in the bowl of water and wet half the edge of the dumpling wrapper. The wet edge is going to help seal the dumpling wrapper.
Step 8: Wrap the dumplings
Using your index finger and thumb, fold the dumpling wrapper over and pinch the edges until they stick and close. Repeat for the rest of the dumplings. (You can also watch the video below to see how I do it 😊).
Step 9: Fry the dumplings
In a deep pan, add about 1 to 2 inches of oil and heat to 350°F (175°C). Add the dumplings in one by one, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Work in batches if needed.
Fry the dumpling for 1 to 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crispy. Allow the dumpling to rest on a wire rack.
Step 10: Serve!
Once the dumplings are done draining and cooling, place them on a plate and serve with dipping sauce. Enjoy!
Cooking Tips for Japchae Dumplings
To help you perfect the soft and chewy interior of the noodle filling and the crispy exterior of the dumplings, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind:
- If you want to add meat to the dumplings, you can add pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, or even tofu for added protein!
- Don’t overfill the dumplings, otherwise, they will be hard to wrap and may potentially leak when frying.
- Overcrowding the pan while frying will cause the temperature of the oil to drop. When this happens, the dumplings will get soggy and greasy because they’ve absorbed too much oil.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are wood ear mushrooms?
Wood ear mushrooms are aptly named because they have folds that look similar to human ears. They often have a brown hue and can be found growing on trees throughout humid areas in Asia. When cooked correctly, they have a slightly crunchy exterior and a chewy interior. Aside from japchae, you can also incorporate them in several dishes, like stir-fries, scrambled eggs, and salads.
Can I make Japchae Dumplings in advance?
Yes, absolutely! After wrapping the dumplings, arrange them on a sheet tray in a single layer and transfer them into a freezer. Once they are completely frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag. When you’re craving some dumplings, just fry them straight from the freezer! Be sure to freeze them before they are cooked.
Can I bake or air-fry the Japchae Dumplings?
Yes – this is a lighter and healthier alternative to deep frying. Brush the dumplings with oil on both sides then bake in the oven at 400F (200C) for 20 minutes or until golden brown and crispy. To air fry the dumplings, arrange them in a single layer and spray with cooking oil on both sides. Air fry at 375F (190C) for 10 to 12 minutes, making sure to flip halfway through.
Can I store Japchae Dumplings?
Yes, you can store leftover japchae dumplings in the fridge. Be sure to store them in an airtight container and they’ll stay fresh for up to 3 days. They will lose their crispness by the next day, but you can restore them by reheating them in a pan with a bit of oil. Fry the dumplings for 1 to 2 minutes or until they’re heated through. Alternatively, you can reheat them in the oven at 350F (175C) for 10 minutes or air fry at 350F (175C) for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
Looking for more easy and delicious vegetarian recipes?
Here are some of my favorite vegetarian-friendly recipes!
1. Chive and Egg Pockets – these chive and egg pockets or boxes are very popular Chinese snacks and appetizers. Chives and eggs are a classic combo in Chinese cuisine, and when combined with vermicelli noodles and dried shrimp, you’re left with a deliciously filled crispy pocket! Similar to the Japchae Dumplings, these chive and egg pockets freeze beautifully!
3. One Pot Miso Mushroom Rice Bowl – this one-pot mushroom rice bowl is super healthy, and delicious, and comes together in under 30 minutes! It’s the perfect weeknight meal with minimal cleanup needed.
4. Vegan Sausage Pasta – if you’re looking to incorporate more plant-based ingredients into your diet, you HAVE TO give this recipe a try! It has all the elements you’d want in pasta – from plant-based sausage, cheese, and creamy sauce!
5. Spicy Asian Cucumber Salad – these slinky cucumbers are irresistibly cute, delicious, and SUPER refreshing! Be sure to make extra cus these will go fast!
- 1 pack dumpling wrappers pre-made, store bought
- 4 oz dried glass noodles also known as cellophane noodles or Korean vermicelli
- 4 oz spinach washed, roughly chopped
- 5 pieces of dried wood ear mushrooms
- 1 cup onion diced
- 1/4 cup carrots julienned
- 2 scallions finely chopped
- 2 tbsp oil plus more for frying
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 hot red pepper finely diced
- 1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp dark soy sauce substitute with soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- pinch of salt to taste
- pinch of ground black pepper to taste
- 1/4 tsp msg optional
- Rehydrate the dried wood ear mushrooms by soaking it in water for 20 minutes. Rinse and drain. Chop the mushrooms up into small pieces.
- Heat a pan over medium heat and add oil. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and cook for 1 minute.
- Toss in the carrots, wood ear mushrooms, spinach and scallions. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan and set aside in a large mixing bowl.
- In a pot with boiling water, cook the glass noodles according to the package instructions. Rinse thoroughly in cold water. Drain and cut the noodles into 1/2 – 1 inch pieces.
- In the large mixing bowl with the vegetables, add the noodles, minced garlic, and chopped peppers.
- Season the mixture with soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, sesame seeds, msg, salt and pepper. Mix together until fully combined. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning according to your taste.
- Prepare a small bowl of water. Take a dumpling wrapper and add about 1 tbsp of the filling. Dip your finger in the bowl of water and wet half the edge of half dumpling wrapper. This is going to help seal the dumpling wrapper.
- Using your index finger and thumb, fold the dumpling wrapper over and pinch the edges until they stick and close. Repeat for the rest of the dumplings.
- In a deep pan, add about 1-2 inches of oil and heat to 350F or 175C. Add the dumplings in one by one, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Work in batches if needed.
- Fry the dumpling for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crisp. Allow the dumpling to rest of a wire rack.
- Serve with dipping sauce and enjoy!
- This recipe is easily customizable because you can use any kind of vegetables you want including bell peppers, assorted mushrooms, and more!
- The dumplings can be frozen after they are assembled for a quick and easy lunch or dinner.
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