There are some things that just seem too daunting to make from scratch, and far easier to order in: potstickers, if you haven’t made them yourself, can be one of those things. The truth is, they’re far simpler to make from scratch than you might think. And if you have little fingers around that need occupying, they will most likely be happy to sit around the kitchen table for an hour and assemble little dumplings that you can then cook on the stovetop until golden-bottomed and crisp, or freeze in zip-lock bags to pop into simmering chicken stock with noodles for a quick wonton soup. (No need to thaw them first – just boil straight from frozen.)
Northern Chinese guotie, (literally “pot stick”) are said to date back over four millennia, and were known by the ancient Chinese as being exceptionally good for the human soul. They are typically filled with ground pork, ginger, scallions and finely chopped cabbage, seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil, but you can adapt the filling ingredients to suit your taste. Finely chopped cooked shrimp are delicious, or substitute ground turkey for the pork. Vegetables such as cooked asparagus or broccoli fit right in as if they were meant to be there. Measurements are approximate; let each be dictated by your taste.
When filling your dumplings, make sure you squeeze any air bubbles out, lest they become floatation devices once they enter a pot of water. If they are destined to be traditional potstickers, make sure your skillet is heavy-bottomed and hot, and let your dumplings crisp well on the bottom without moving them. The goal isn’t to have them actually stick to the pan, but to brown well and then steam to cook through once you pour liquid over top and then cover with a lid to trap the heat and steam.
Serve them up quickly, soon after you make them, with fried rice, noodles or straight-up; they’re perfect finger food for a party. Make a quick dipping sauce out of soy sauce spiked with chili sauce and a sprinkle of brown sugar.
1 cup finely shredded bok choy or napa cabbage (optional)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 lb. lean ground pork
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. soy sauce (or to taste)
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 pkg. wonton or gyoza wrappers, thawed if frozen
chicken or veggie stock, or water
If you’re using it, toss the cabbage with salt in a medium bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Pick it up in your hand and squeeze out the excess liquid, draining it as well as you can. Add the pork, green onions, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sugar and sesame oil and mix it all up with your hands.
To fill wontons, place a small spoonful of filling in the middle of each wrapper; moisten the edges with water (just use your finger) and fold over, pressing the edge tightly to seal. Place seam side up on a cookie sheet, pressing lightly to flatten the bottom. Cover with a tea towel to prevent them from drying out. (Dumplings can be prepared up to this point, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 24 hours or frozen.)
When you’re ready to cook the potstickers, heat a drizzle of canola oil in a largeish skillet set over medium-high heat. Place half the dumplings at a time in the skillet and cook for a minute or two, until deep golden brown on the bottom, shaking the pan a few times to keep them from sticking. Don’t crowd the pan too much.
Pour about 1/4 cup stock or water into the pan. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook for about 5 minutes – this will allow them to steam, cooking them through.
Makes 2 – 3 dozen potstickers.
Each: 45 calories, 1 g total fat (0.2 g saturated fat, 0.4 g monounsaturated fat, 0.3 g polyunsaturated fat), 3 g protein, 5.9 g carbohydrate, 5.2 mg cholesterol, 0.4 g fiber. 20% calories from fat.