Lately, I have felt as though the planets have aligned in such a way that I have been compelled to make potstickers. I have kept running into articles, blogs, recipes for them – not to mention having eaten them several times at the local Chinese buffet in just the past few weeks. My love affair with the potsticker is a curious one. I grew up in the sticks of southeast Georgia, just north of Savannah. My family never chose to venture into eating ethnic cuisines, so my usual home fare consisted of a fried meat, white rice, and some khaki-colored mush with bacon bits called “vegetables.” Amy Tan introduced me to the concept of the potsticker in one of her novels – I can’t remember exactly which – and I was enamored of the little pockets filled with meat and savory flavors, both fried and steamed to perfection. It sounded heavenly. Several years after reading her description of a potsticker, I went to college, hit a Chinese buffet, met up with a vat of potstickers, and haven’t met one I didn’t like since. Even chewy ones that have sat under a heat lamp for hours waiting for me to devour them are perfectly acceptable. So, after ten years of loving potstickers, I humbly present my recipe for them.
- 1 C finely shredded napa cabbage
- 1/3 pound ground pork
- 1/4 C minced scallions (white parts and some green of 3)
- 1/2 T light soy sauce
- 1 tsp shaoxing wine
- 1/2 T sesame oil…or maybe a little more…
- 1 inch knob of ginger, grated
- 1 T garlic, mined
- 1 tsp cornstarch
- dumpling or wonton wrappers, preferably round
- peanut oil for frying
Combine all ingredients except the wrappers and the peanut oil in a bowl. Mix well – you will probably need to get your hands in there to get this done.
Once you’ve got a nice, homogenous mixture set up your dumpling-making station. (If you do much battering and frying, this will feel like second nature). Part 1: your bowl of potsticker filling and a teaspoon. Part 2: a square of wax paper, the dumpling wrappers wrapped in plastic, and a bowl of water. Part 3: a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Now it’s time to assemble, which can be fiddly work; recruit some helpers if you can. Lay a wonton wrapper on the wax paper. Scoop a nice, heaping teaspoon full of the filling into the center of it. Dip your finger in the water, and moisten the edges of half the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half, making either a triangle or a half-moon (depending on the shape of your wrappers). Now, crimp the edges so your dumpling stays shut. This is much easier if you are using round wrappers. Transfer the dumpling to the cookie sheet and repeat. This recipe makes about 30 dumplings, give or take. Depending on your appetite, 6-10 dumplings make a good portion for one. So, size up how many servings you need, and how many hungry mouths you have to feed. The unfried dumplings can be popped in the freezer (leave them on the cookie sheet) and then transferred to a freezer bag when frozen solid.
When you want the potstickers, defrost them and pick up with the next step…the frying! Heat a couple of tablespoons of peanut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the potstickers in the skillet in a single layer, and fry until golden brown on each side. This should be very quick – just 1 – 2 minutes – so have your tongs or spatula ready. As soon as the potstickers are browned, pour in a 1/3 of a cup of water, clamp a lid on the skillet, simmer for a couple of minutes, and lower the heat. Remove the lid, and increase the heat. Boiling off all the water is crucial. If you have multiple batches, turn your oven on its lowest setting, and pop the finished products in on a cookie sheet until you are ready to serve them. They’re best served hot, straight from the frying pan. With a simple dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar, minced garlic, and scallions aside a bed of white rice, this makes a wholly satisfying meal.