Monday, March 22, 2010

Pot Stickers

soy & vinegar
I grew up making these from scratch. Even the wrappers. Well, I didn't mix up the flour to make the wrappers, but I certainly helped my mom wrap these suckers. My brother's task was to flatten each round and then come back when they were cooked to eat. He was a bit overweight until puberty. Lucky for me, a noodle shop opened in Chinatown, and they made fresh wonton, and pot sticker wrappers besides twenty different kinds of noodles. I miss the convenience of a decent Chinatown, but I still make my pot stickers. You can make these using ground pork, chicken or turkey. Just be aware that if using chicken or turkey, you must get the ground dark meat, as you need some fat in the meat. If you are really lucky, even with fresh dungeness crab. (I don't remember those, what a shame) I usually make them with pork, well, because, I like my pig.

The recipe involves a ratio; 1 part meat, 2 parts vegetable.

1 lb ground pork
2 lbs napa or green cabbage, shredded finely, salted with 1 tsp salt and excess water squeezed out
1 c green onions, finely chopped
2 inch chunk of ginger, peeled and minced finely
3 Tbs light soy sauce
1 Tbs corn starch
1 Tbs Shaoxing, Chinese cooking wine
1 1/2 Tbs canola oil
2 tsp ground white pepper

2 pkgs Pot Sticker (Goyza, Dumpling) wrappers (I keep several packages in my freezer, usually I use about 2 packages, but mine contain 50 wrappers per package) I am not certain how many are in the Azumya packs.
Shanghai dumpling wrappers

If you are looking at a head of cabbage and wondering, "What the heck?" This is what you do; Napa Cabbage should be separated into leaves, and stacked, slicing crosswise into 1/4 inch shreds, green cabbage, should be cut in half and laying flat side down slice into 1/4 inch shreds. You can cheat by cutting either cabbage into reasonable size that fits in your food processor with shredding blade and save yourself some time, and you won't need to sharpen you knife so often. I have not tried using the packaged shredded cabbage, mainly because it's cheaper to get a head of cabbage than $1 bag for 8oz of wilted cabbage. Place all that shredded cabbage in a large bowl and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt, toss, let sit for 5 min then dump into cheese cloth, or single layer large diaper cloth, or kitchen towel. Gather ends and twist forming a ball of cabbage over the bowl, squeeze as much liquid into the bowl. Drain bowl and place ball of cabbage in bowl, rest your hands for a few minutes and repeat. You should squeeze out about 1 cup of liquid.

Meanwhile, in another large bowl mix meat, ginger, green onions, and seasonings together. Add cabbage after all liquid has been drained, mixing well again. Let rest in fridge while you prep your work area.
pot sticker makings

I have read that dumpling parties are common in some cities like LA, SF, and NY. If you have a decent Asian population and appreciation of the foods, and the desire to make them, you might find yourself invited to a party. Dumpling parties make the process of wrapping faster, and fun, otherwise make sure you have some upbeat music going on. You will need to lay out your materials, wrappers, a small dish of water, spoons, and trays. I was able to get some trays from my grocery store, by asking nicely. You may also use regular baking pans, just make sure that they are lined with wax paper.

Now the fun part. Grab your big bowl of meat mixture and make yourself comfy. Take a wrapper and place it in front of you.
Scoop 1 1/2 tsp of filling and place in center of wrapper

Using finger tip or back of spoon, dip in water and wet edges of wrapper, (1 spoon for filling, 1 spoon for water)

Pinch the top and bottom of wrapper together.

left side
Pinch left side of wrapper
right side
Pinch right side of wrapper

left side
Crimp and fold the sides together.

all crimped & pleated
the lone dumpling

Yea, I know it doesn't look like the ones you get out of the Ling Ling bag. Hey, these are homemade. I know there are better descriptions on how to shape them, than what I have done. Heck you don't even need to do all this, just fold in half and crimp like empanadas. Also my mom makes them beautifully. My aunt could always tell who made them, and she would go for mine. Why? I tend to over stuff. She liked more filling. I know of some who prefer more of a doughy wrapper.

So now you are sitting at your table making a boatload of pot stickers and placing them in the trays or pans. Now what? Well the best thing about them, is that they freeze well. Place each tray as you are done in the freezer (It gives you a chance to get up and stretch your legs) When the next tray is done, the prior tray should be frozen enough to place pot stickers in a freezer bag. Hey if you are going to all this trouble to make them, why not make enough to last a month or so. They keep in the freezer up to 6 months. Actually that's the longest they have ever lasted for us, and that's because we usually make 400. They cook exactly the same, just a few minutes longer on the steam time. You may also steam, boil or deep fry them. Whatever application you use, it's usually about 10-15 min cook time.
group freeze

So all that work and you wanna eat them now. I must tell you if there is a dumpling party or someone who knows how to wrap them also you can test a couple to check your seasonings while you are wrapping. Hey, I don't taste test raw pork!

the starting fry
Using a large non stick pan over med heat, pour 1/2 Tbs oil, place pot stickers in pan and let the bottoms brown slightly, about 1 min. light coloring

steaming time
Now pour 1/2 c water into pan and cover, let steam for 10-15 min, until water has evaporated.

light bottom
Remove lid and check the bottoms of the dumplings, they should be crisp and nicely browned.

Remove from pan and serve as an appetizer or savory brunch, dim sum side dish with a dipping sauce of 3Tbs soy, 1/2 tsp vinegar, 1tsp chopped green onion and ginger, or whatever floats your boat. My dad likes half soy and Worcestershire.

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