Aliso Viejo-Based Tan’s Dumplings Delivers Handcrafted Creations

Owner Charlene Tan started Tan’s Dumplings as a side hustle a month before COVID-19 closures. She handcrafts and delivers dumplings, including popular vegan options, throughout O.C.
Vegan pink miso and vegan gochujang dumplings. Photograph by Michelle Pagaran

A family tradition …
My mom cooked all the time when I was little. We never went out to eat, and our kitchen was the most lived-in room in the house. (For family parties) we always helped my mom make dumplings, but she was always the one to do the filling and the actual folding. Every time I would fold them, she would just quietly go back and redo it. When I got older, I decided I wanted to learn how to actually do it. I started teaching myself a couple of years ago, and last year, I really got into it. I taught myself more dumpling folds and experimented with fillings.

Adding vegan options …
When I was coming up with the menu, I wanted to make it accessible to everybody. I thought, “Let me make a vegan dumpling that I, as a nonvegan person, would also like.” So I added ingredients like cauliflower, mushrooms, cabbage, and green onions. I also added a gochujang option. It’s a fermented, red pepper paste that I add to the dumpling wrappers. You’ll get a little spicy kick, but it’s also sweet. I also put carrots in the dumpling to balance the spiciness.

Perfect timing …
So far, I’ve made 11,289 dumplings since (last) February. When COVID-19 hit, the grocery stores were empty, and I thought everything was going to be super expensive. Crazy enough, it did work out. Everyone is just staying at home, and the delivery service worked out perfectly. It’s also helped me stay busy during quarantine. I was a graphic designer, too, so it’s cool to be able to use (those skills) again with the menu and the packaging.

New menu items in time for Valentine’s Day …
(The vegan pink miso dumpling) has a wrapper that is naturally colored with dragon fruit juice. There is just enough to color it, but not enough to taste it, unlike the gochujang dumpling. The inside is cauliflower rice with miso!

Order through Instagram @tansdumplings.

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