Do I want to be known as the girl “veganizing” dim sum? Darn straight! Vegan dim sum recipes are probably the main recipes people request from me. Every time I meet a someone new on my channel I ask them for suggestions and they always want vegan dim sum. So here’s the vegan dim sum playlist so far.
Dim sum is not always the easiest recipes to veganize. Sure there are the baos and dessert type items that are fun to play around with, but a lot of the savory dim sum like your har gao (shrimp dumplings), shu mai (pork and shrimp dumplings), and your lion’s head meatballs are basically all meat. So for me, it was important I do this right. I either needed to find really good meat and seafood substitutes on the market, or I needed to nail down at least a damn good ground pork and beef recipe.
I started playing around with jackfruit a half year back with a “pork” char siu bao recipe. I found that if you dehydrate the jackfruit in an oven, the texture becomes a lot more meaty like pulled pork.
I also started cooking with a lot of vegan meat substitutes you can find in grocery stores today. Some of them resembles so closely to the real thing i.e. Gardein’s Crispy Chicken Strips that I challenge anyone to see if they can tell the difference. Gardein has an amazing line of accessible and affordable vegan meat substitutes like grilled chicken, pork and beef crumbles, which I love to cook and make dim sum dishes with.
I also experimented a lot with wheat gluten and making my own meat analogues. I have to say this was both exciting and very scary. This is definitely new territory and I guess what I fall back on is my experience in baking. As a baker, you know when you want to work gluten so that you develop the proper structures for breads.
But usually in the case of most pastry goods, you find ways to lessen the effects of these protein bonds. For example, cake flour is flour cut with starches to disrupt gluten bonds resulting in softer and fluffier cakes. In the case of shortbread cookies, fat is added with the flour to create crumbly, easy to eat cookies because the network of gluten has been “shortened” with fats that disrupt the gluten bonds.
So anyways, this is the current project and most recipes have come out surprisingly delicious. A huge part of the tasting experience is flavor and texture. When I’m veganizing recipes, I keep the flavors pretty close to the original recipes, so the harder parts are usually to get the texture right. But with so many new products and vegan meat substitutes out on the market, I think we’ll get to a pretty nice sized collection very soon.