These dumplings are a vegetable soup dumpling designed to mimic the flavors of Vietnamese Pho. The filling could be made of any of the ingredients you often find in Pho, but I used spinach, tofu, carrots and scallions. Bean sprouts are usually a prominent ingredient in Pho but they are hard to work with as a dumpling filler, so I don’t include them. I use a Vietnamese Pho bouillon cube that you can find in many Asian markets. To the left is a photo of the one I used.
Agar-agar is used in this recipe to make a vegan aspic, basically it turns the Pho stock into a gelatin that can be put inside the dumpling. When the dumplings are steamed the Pho gelatin converts back into a soup. This effect is similar to the pork aspic used in conventional soup dumplings.
Vegan Pho bouillon cube
1 Table spoon Agar-agar flakes
2 cups water
Vegan Hoisin Sauce (optional)
One bunch Asian spinach, chopped
1/2 block firm tofu
1 carrot, diced
Two scallions, chopped into small ringlets
Instructions: Heat two cups of water and dissolve the Pho bouillon cube to make the soup base, add a little lime juice to taste. If you like Hoisin Sauce in your Pho add some to taste, to the soup base, likewise if you like Sriracha sauce in your Pho, add some to the soup base. Reduce the heat so the soup base is not boiling and then add the 2 Table spoons of agar-agar flakes. Bring the soup base back to a boil and then simmer for about ten minutes until the soup base starts to slightly thicken. Pour the soup base into a bowl and chill in the refrigerator to set the gelatin.
Squeeze or press the 1/2 block of tofu to remove as much water from it as possible, I squeeze the tofu in a cheese cloth. Crumble the tofu into a mixing bowl and mix the spinach, carrots and scallions thoroughly into the tofu.
Place a dumpling wrapper in the palm of you hand and use a knife to liberally spread the Pho soup gelatin onto the middle of the wrapper, make sure you leave enough of the wrapper edges gelatin free, so you can still crimp the wrapper closed. Place a dollop of the veggie filling in the middle of the wrapper, fold the wrapper over the filling and crimp the edges tightly closed.
I think these work best when steamed. Under the high heat of the steam the gelatin will melt and form a puddle of Pho soup in the wrapper. Be careful when eating these because the soup can be scalding hot.