I haven’t met a dumpling that I didn’t like. Well, ok … maybe a filling or two that I wasn’t fond of but when you wrap anything in a thin layer of carbs, it just tastes magical!
I started making my own dumplings a few years ago, first wonton and then soon came potstickers. I’ve played with my potsticker recipe ever since and finally tweaking it recently. They are moist and tender, packed with flavor and perfect for a snack or quick dinner. I finish the postickers in what I affectionately call ‘soy-butt’ style, a splash of soy sauce during the final minute which caramelizes on the bottoms of the potstickers leaving a salty crust.
1 head Napa cabbage (about 6 cups shredded)
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 lbs ground pork
2 tablespoons corn starch
8 green onions, minced (whites and greens)
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 inch piece ginger, grated
3 garlic cloves, grated
4 oz. silken tofu
The filling is quick to prepare and I often let it sit overnight in the refrigerator to let the flavors mingle. Begin by thinly shredding the cabbage. Place into a colander and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt. Toss with your fingers to coat all of the cabbage with the salt. Allow to sit for 20 minutes to draw out the excess water. While it sits, I continue preparing the filling.
To a large bowl add the ground pork, corn starch, minced green onion and soy sauce. Grate in the ginger and garlic. The key to the filling is to have all of the ingredients in the smallest pieces as possible, so the filling isn’t chunky and the flavors are mixed evenly throughout.
The final ingredient is one that I had heard about for some time and finally tried. The silken tofu adds an extra bit of moisture to the filling and you won’t even know it’s in there. Add it to the meat mixture and use a spoon to blend everything together. Bash it around good to break up all of the meat so it’s almost like a paste.
Place the cabbage into a clean kitchen towel and draw up the sides, squeezing the cabbage of its excess water. You will be shocked how much water comes out. Continue squeezing until no more comes out, then place into your meat mixture. Give a few final stirs to integrate the cabbage. Refrigerate until ready for use.
You can buy round potsticker dumpling skins in the refrigerated grocery section of most grocery stores. I’ve always used them but decided to try making my own skins for my very first time. I did dread rolling out the dough and contemplated it for a day or two. I was about to give up on making the skins when I realized that I could use my pasta attachment for my mixer and use the lasagna roller. Whew! Crisis averted.
2 cups flour
1 cup hot water
dash of salt
The ratio can be increased using 2 parts flour, 1 part hot water. I placed the flour into my mixer with a dough hook. I slowly added the water until the dough formed. Allow it to knead for a few minutes until a smooth ball forms. The dough should be soft and not tacky to the touch. If it’s too wet, add a few tablespoons of flour and mix again. Depending on the humidity of your kitchen, you may need more or less water.
Place the dough on a flat surface and cover with a moist towel. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
Once the dough has rested, cut into 4 pieces. Working with one piece at a time, use your hands to flatten the dough into just under 1/2″ thick patties. These pieces of dough will be run through a pasta roller. Alternatively, you can use a rolling pin to roll the dough.
The dough is soft and smooth but I found that it didn’t like to be played with too much. Running it through the pasta roller twice was all that it took. If I tried running it through more than twice, it tended to break apart and loose its smooth texture.
Take one patty of dough and dust it on both sides with flour. On the first run, set your pasta roller to its largest opening and run the dough through. Coat each side of the dough with another sprinkling of flour. Then, set your pasta roller to a medium thinness … on my attachment it was ’3′.
Lay the dough on a firm cutting surface and cut into 4 inch circles. I used a cocktail glass and it worked perfectly. Make sure the circles are nicely floured so they don’t stick together when stacked.
Since the dough is soft, you should work with it quickly. I made the dumplings in small batches and placed into the freezer immediately. Then, I would roll another piece of dough and fill another batch of skins. I did not take any photos of how to fill and fold the potstickers and I’ll admit this isn’t my strength (my potstickers are rustic!). However, for an excellent potsticker tutorial Jaden of Steamy Kitchen provides easy to follow steps with photos. You should also check out the Gyoza made by Wasabi Bratwurst or the dumplings made by Kat of A Good Appetite. Apparently, pan-fried dumplings are all the rage on food blogs right now – I should also mention Helen’s post from World Foodie Guide.
Place the completed potstickers on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in your freezer for about 30 minutes to freeze them, then place dumplings in freezer bags according to serving size.
I ended up making around 100+ dumplings. There’s something therapeutic about making the dough and then folding so many dumplings. My freezer is now filled with several large bags of plump dumplings.
How to fry the potstickers soy-butt style
Potstickers are aptly named. During the frying process, the dumplings stick to the pan and only once they are fully cooked do they release themselves. Trying to move them in the pan before they are ready and your impatience will be rewarded with scrambled dumplings.
I imagine potstickers were accidentally invented by a cook very much like myself. Likely, this person tried to make fried dumplings and became preoccupied with something else in the kitchen. When they realized their dumplings were sizzling in the pan, it was too late and the dumplings were stuck so tightly to the pan that they wouldn’t budge. To release the dumplings and rescue their dinner, the cook decided to add a bit of water to loosen the dumplings. From an initial oversight was born a delicious dumpling. :-)
I use a cast iron skillet and lightly oil the bottom with a teaspoon or two of oil. I place the frozen dumplings into the pan, leaving an inch or two of space between each one. Place over medium heat and fry for 3-4 minutes. At this point they should be stuck nicely to the pan and starting to brown. Resist the urge to move them.
Next you will add about 1/2 cup water and immediately cover the pan with a lid. No peeking. The water will generate steam to cook the dumplings. For frozen dumplings, it may take about 7-9 minutes. For fresh dumplings, it will take only about 5 minutes.
Remove the lid and allow any remaining water to cook out of the pan. Once the pan is dry, the dumplings will be ready to release themselves from the pan. This is the point where I unleash my soy-butt style … a drizzle of soy sauce over the dumplings. As the soy hits the hot pan, it will caramelize and adhere to the base of each dumpling and will create a slightly salty crust on the bottoms (i.e. butts) of the dumplings. It only takes about 30-60 seconds, then promptly remove the dumplings from the pan or else they will burn.
You can serve them with soy sauce flavored with chili oil and green onions. Personally, I like to dip them in a Chinese red vinegar or a bit of balsamic.