Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year! Homemade Potstickers FTW

I've been a lover of all foods Asian for as long as I can remember.  I'm sure it helps that I originated in the Bay Area where Asian culture reigns supreme.  Chopsticks were my utensil of choice (I swear eating with them makes your dish taste better).

So to honor Chinese New Year, I am posting a tribute to potstickers, one of my favorite snacks/meals.  I think most people love anything that is essentially a pocket of deliciousness.  Beef Wellington, falafel in pita, momos, or even Hot Pockets (which I know you secretly love).  

Potstickers, or Chinese dumplings, are far easier to make than you might have imagined.  Especially if you cheat and use wonton wrappers - which I do.  Also, if you happen to be planning a party or just happen to love all things Asian, you will use almost the same ingredients if you would like to make Vietnamese spring rolls at the same time.

What you'll need:

1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 medium head cabbage (Napa), finely chopped
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 slices fresh ginger root, finely chopped
1 1/2 shredded carrots
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white sugar
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 (14 ounce) package wonton wrappers
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon chili oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar

It's actually really easy from here with one exception - but we'll get to that.  

  1. Toss everything from the ground pork down to the sesame oil in a medium bowl.  If you're not squeamish, get your hands in there and mix.  If you are, well, get a spatula and get to it.  Mixed?  Great, move on.  

  1. Get out your magical wonton wrappers.  One of the happiest pre-made products you can buy.  Lay out your cute little circles and get read for the slightly more difficult part.  Add a spoonful to each little wrapper.  Less is more for the inexperienced because this next part is a little trickier.  Maybe only do one at a time to start to find the right level of "fullness" for your dumpling folding skills.

  1. Have a small bowl of water to dip your fingers in.  Fold your wontons into cute little half moons and start pressing together.  Now, here is the part some people struggle with at first.  Start folding. I start in the center and fold a quarter inch to a half inch fold and work towards one end.  Then I go back to the middle and go the other way.  Don't get your fingertips too wet or your wonton dough will get sticky and be a royal pain to work with.  However, you will want to add a little moisture to help your folds really stick together.  Now repeat about a million times until you're out of dumpling filling or wonton wrappers.

Cool.  Now you have two choices.  Cook now or throw in a bag and freeze.  Because I was making these just for me (and my husband, sort of) I chose to cook half and throw the other half in a gallon size freezer bag.  That's what makes these even more awesome - they freeze well and make for a very quick and low maintenance dinner in a pinch.

If you choose to cook now, your journey is almost over.  I like my dumplings and sauce over rice so I'd get that cooking now if I were you.  Then you'll toss your vegetable oil in largish pan.  I used a 12" pan to do my bidding.  Arrange your potstickers in the pan, laying on their more flat side.  Once they're looking pretty like a fan, turn your burner up to medium.  Go ahead and add the water and then cover with a top or if you don't have one, just use a cookie sheet and let it have a small opening to vent.  Let this cook for about 10-12 minutes.

All cooked?  Last step.  Mix the chili oil, soy sauce, and rice vinegar in a small bowl for dipping.  Or you can get crazy and throw it in the with the potstickers once they're done and stir to get them coated.  Hey, it's your life.