Chinese New Year: From-Scratch Pot Stickers

February 12, 2013

Dumplings, a symbol of wealth, are a typical food eaten during Chinese New Year. Author Pat Tanumihardja's shares this delicious homemade pot sticker recipe from her book The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens, a beautiful collection of 130 delicious and authentic dishes from kitchen's around Asia, many of them handed down from mother to daughter for generations and written down for the first time. You'll love the recipes as much as the stories each grandmother shares. Check out her Teochew Braised Duck with Chili-Lime Dipping Sauce recipe from yesterday.

cookbookFrom-Scratch Pot Stickers (Guotieh)

Made with pork and cabbage, two cheap and common ingredients, pot stickers may be considered peasant food. But this humble snack is an important fixture in many Chinese households during the Lunar New Year. Grandma Ellen Shyu Chou makes her pot stickers, including the skins, from scratch. Let me tell you, the skins really make the dumpling. Nothing beats the texture of homemade skins. Store-bought skins, like fresh pasta sheets, are thin and flat, while homemade have some heft to them and are thicker in the middle to endure the heat of cooking and to protect the filling.
 
Time: 2-1/2 hours
Makes: About 40 dumplings (8 to 10 servings as a snack or appetizer)
 
Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 to 1 cup lukewarm water
 
Filling:
2 cups finely chopped Chinese cabbage (1/2 small cabbage)
2-1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
1 pound ground pork
1 green onion, white and green parts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (from a 1/4-inch piece)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
Vegetable oil for pan-frying
Soy-Ginger Dipping Sauce (recipe follows)
 
To make the dough, combine the flour and 3/4 cup water in a large bowl. Mix well with a wooden spoon until it starts to come together, adding more
water if necessary. With your hands, form the dough into a rough ball. You want the dough to be pliable but not stick to your fingers. Sprinkle with a little more flour if the dough is too wet. The dough won’t feel smooth at this point. Set the dough back in the bowl, cover with a damp towel, and let rest while you make the filling.
 
To make the filling, place the cabbage in a medium bowl and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons salt. Mix well. Taking a handful of cabbage at a time, squeeze out as much water as you can. Or wrap the cabbage in a cheesecloth or non-terry towel and gently wring as much water out.
 
In a large bowl, combine the cabbage, pork, green onion, soy sauce, ginger, sesame oil, pepper, and remaining salt. Mix well with chopsticks or clean hands. Set aside.
 
To form the dumpling skins, knead the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is smooth all over, about 5 minutes. Divide into 4 equal balls. Knead each ball individually for about 30 seconds. Roll each portion into a log about 8 inches long and . inch in diameter. Pinch off 10 even, walnut-sized pieces from each log. Dust with flour as needed to prevent them from sticking
to the work surface.
 
Roll a piece into a ball and flatten into a disk between your palms. Place the flattened disk on a well-floured surface. Using a Chinese rolling pin (see Pat’s Notes), start at the bottom right edge of the disk and roll from the outside of the circle in. Use your right hand to roll the pin over the edge of the disk as your left hand turns it counterclockwise. (Do the opposite if you are left-handed). Keep rolling and turning until it becomes a circle about 3 inches in diameter. Don’t worry about making a perfect circle. Ideally, the skin will be thicker in the middle than at the edge. Repeat to make the remaining skins. Dust the skins with flour so they won’t stick to each other. Cover them with a damp cloth as you make the dumplings.
 
Spoon about 2 teaspoons filling into the center of one skin. Fold up the sides of the dumpling to form a half-moon pocket. The simplest way to seal the dumpling is to pinch it shut along the curved edge with your thumb and forefinger to create a flat seam. It will look like a turnover. Or, if you are good at crimping, you can create a pleated edge: Pinch the center shut. Start from one corner of the half-moon and make your way to the center, making 3 to 4 accordion pleats. Then work from the other corner to the center creating another 3 to 4 pleats. Press the pleated side of the dough firmly against the flat side and seal the entire dumpling. If there is too much filling, the dumpling cannot be properly sealed. Remove the extra filling to prevent leakage during cooking.
 
On a parchment-lined tray dusted lightly with flour, set the dumpling firmly down seam-side up so that it sits flat. Repeat until all the dough or filling is used.
 
Preheat an 8- to 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Swirl in 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil. Place about a dozen dumplings in a single layer seam-side up in the skillet and brown them for about 1 minute. Pour in about . cup water to reach about . inch up the sides of the dumplings. Cover immediately and steam for 9 to 10 minutes, or until all the water evaporates and the filling is cooked through. Remove the pot stickers with a spatula and arrange on a serving platter bottom sides up. The bottoms of the pot stickers should be golden brown and crisp but not burned.
 
Wipe the skillet dry with paper towels and repeat with the remaining dumplings or freeze them (see Pat’s Notes). Serve with the dipping sauce.
 
Variations: Japanese gyoza is an adaptation of Chinese pot stickers. Instead of green onions, add chopped leeks or perilla (shiso) leaves and add about 2 teaspoons of mirin.
 
For a vegetarian version, substitute spinach (given the same treatment as the cabbage), scrambled eggs, and/or cellophane noodles for the pork.
 
Pat’s Notes: Chinese rolling pins are skinnier and don’t have handles. They’re available in Asian markets, or get a ¾- to 1-inch wooden dowel from the hardware
store.
 
If you are using store-bought dumpling skins, you will have to wet the edge of the dough to seal the dumplings. To freeze uncooked pot stickers, arrange them in a single layer on a baking tray and freeze until firm so they don’t stick to each other (30 to 45 minutes will do). Tip into zip-top bags, seal, and freeze for up to a month. Do not defrost before cooking. Brown as instructed but steam for 10 to 11 minutes. To reheat cooked pot stickers, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet. Arrange the pot stickers in one layer and pour in 2 tablespoons water. Cover and steam until heated through, about 2 minutes.

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