Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Make Your Own: Chinese Dumplings

There's this really good 1/2 cookbook, 1/2 story book I like to read. It's called Make the Bread, Buy the Butter by Jennifer Reese. It's the hilarious story of her culinary experiments. She has tried making pretty much everything from scratch including cheeses, breads, prosciutto, and a host of other foods. Each recipe comes with a cost analysis of ingredients and how much it would cost if you bought the finished product in the store. Besides being a great resource, it's pretty entertaining....but that's all I'll say about the book since this is not a sponsored post and I really just want to tell you how to make delicious dumplings. Or potstickers. Or whatever you'd like to call them.

These potstickers (despite the long list of ingredients) are way more yummy than the pre-made kind you buy in the frozen foods aisle and even more delicious than the ones you order from your favorite Kung-Fu-Wok-China-House-Lucky-Express-Panda-Chang restaurant. They take a little bit of time to put together, but it's not a complicated process and it is SOOOOO much cheaper than buying them. I've made them twice now, and I'll tell you, it's easy to eat 10 or more. We like to make a dipping sauce for them, mixing soy sauce and sriracha, but you could easily do something different depending on your personal tastes. I usually make a trip to our local asian market and pick up the ingredients for less than $10, and this recipe makes 60-80 potstickers. That sounds like a lot, but trust me, you'll want that many.

Here's the recipe, modified from Make the Bread, Buy the Butter.

1 pound fatty boneless pork shoulder, ground
3/4 pound napa cabbage, finely shredded
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup minced scallion
1/4 cup minced cilantro
1 tsp. minced ginger
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tBSsoy sauce
1 tBs sesame oil
1/4 tsp. of red pepper flakes
1/4-1/2 tsp. sriracha sauce (depending on how spicy you want them)

About 80 round dumpling wrappers (usually in the frozen section)
All-purpose flour (for dusting)
Vegetable oil/Olive oil (for frying)

In a large bowl combine all the filling ingredients and mix well. Fry up a tablespoon of the mixture in a small frying pan and taste it. Adjust seasoning to your liking.

Set up a dumpling wrapping station with the wrappers, filling, small bowl of water and a cookie sheet lined with parchment or dusted with flour.

Into the middle of each wrapper put a generous teaspoon (I use a small spoon, not the actually measuring spoon). With your fingers wet or brush, wet a semi-circle (1/2) of the edge of the dumpling wrapper. Fold in  half and pinch to close. Pinch and pleat the wrapper and place on the cookie sheet. Repeat until you have no more wrappers.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and add 2 teaspoons of oil.  Drop in 15 potstickers and cook for 5-7 minutes. Scoop out the potstickers, drain briefly, and place on a clean cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining

Heat one tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and spray with non-stick spray (or do it in a non-stick skillet). When the oil is shimmering/sizzling, add 10-12 dumplings. Cook on one side until the skin begins to brown and "thicken." (about 2/3 min.) Cook on the other side. Repeat with remaining dumplings. Serve immediately.


FYI: don't let my interchange of the words potstickers and dumplings confuse you. I'm talking about the same thing.  I'm not sure if you could make these vegetarian (with tofu or something) but I would love to hear if you experiment with that. We like our potstickers fairly spicy so I put a few shakes of red pepper flakes and a small squeeze of sriracha (probably about 1/4 tsp). However, they are not that spicy, so we make a sauce out of sriracha and soy sauce. You could probably put more sriracha in the dumpling filling and then have a sauce with soy and sesame oil if you want....just an idea. Also, these freeze well. I make a big batch the freeze them in containers with 7 dumplings. Into the microwave they go for 90 seconds and they're ready to eat.

Here's the mixture. You want everything pretty small. (I should have shredded the harder, white part of the cabbage a little smaller). I use this small soup spoon/teaspoon to measure the filling into the dumplings. If you stuff them too much they'll break or explode when you boil them. 

Here are about half of the dumplings, before they were boiled. It's important to add some oil to your pot of boiling water so that these babies don't stick to the bottom of the pot. After you put 15ish in the boiling water, give them a stir to make sure they're not sticking to the pot or each other. 

Happy Dumpling Making!

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