I absolutely loved eating pot stickers growing up. In fact, no night of Chinese take-out was complete without them in my house. And what’s not to like about them? Crispy on one side, tender on the other and bursting with a flavorful, juicy pork and shrimp filling. Yup, give me a bowl of soy or some sweet and sour dipping sauce and I was good. Then…I went away to college and simply lost all interest in these delicious dumplings.
You see, there is a brand of frozen pot stickers on the market that seems to be stocked in every grocery store on the planet. It’s highly likey that you might have eaten them yourself at one point in time. And why wouldn’t you have? They aren’t half bad when you prepare them correctly. But it was the constant consumption of these store-bought wonders by my roommates that really put me off them for a while. Do you know what it’s like to come home from a long day of classes to a house steamed up with the funky stench of industrialized cabbage wontons? Not good! Sure they were good the first couple of times, but after a while it’s just not the same as the genuine, handmade article.
So, smack-dab in the heart of Chinese New Year, I present to you a killer recipe from this month’s Fine Cooking Magazine for authentic, pork and shrimp jiao zi. Simple enough to assemble and sheer gold sitting in your freezer, this recipe has single-handedly renewed my interest in these classic Chinese dumplings. Loaded with a myriad of traditional Chinese ingredients like ginger, rice wine, napa cabbage, scallions and sesame oil, these pot stickers are leagues above your average supermarket variety and far better than the restaurant versions I’ve had in recent years. Serve them with the accompanying recipe for scallion-soy dipping sauce and you have a knockout appetizer.
Outside of filling and shaping the dumplings, this recipe is pretty damn easy and well worth the effort considering how perfectly the finished dumplings freeze for future cooking. If you have an Asian market in your town, go there and try to purchase coarsely ground, fatty pork for dumplings with superior juiciness and texture. Thy’s original recipe calls for you to make your own wrappers and I am certain that such an endevor would be well worth the effort. However, this recipe already takes a bit of time to put together, so do what I did and go grab yourself some pre-made, gyoza or pot sticker wrappers at the market. Look for wrapper thin — you want your pot stickers to be delicate, not chewy. If you decide you want to freeze some of the finished dumplings, place them on a cookie sheet in an even layer and freeze them overnight. When you want to cook them again, simply take them out and proceed with the same cooking method, adding 3-4 minutes onto the total cooking time. I didn’t believe it myself, but the come out perfectly. Trust me.
- 2 cups finely chopped napa cabbage
- Kosher salt
- 12 oz. ground pork
- 8 oz. peeled, deveined raw shrimp, coarsely chopped
- 3 medium scallions, thinly sliced
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing (Chinese rice wine) or dry sherry
- 1-1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 teaspoon toasted Asian sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 36 very thin, 3-inch circular, store-bought pot sticker or gyoza wrappers
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- Make the Filling: In a medium bowl, toss the cabbage with 2 teaspoons salt and set aside for 30 minutes to shed moisture. Wring out in a clean kitchen towel to extract as much liquid as possible.
- In a large bowl, combine the cabbage with the pork, shrimp, scallions, garlic, Shaoxing, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
- Fill the Dumplings: Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons of the filling onto a dough wrapper, fold it in half, and make your first pinch at the center of the curved edge and then pleat toward the center on both sides to create a rounded belly. This wider shape allows the dumplings to sit upright in the pan and form a flat surface for browning.
- Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling. As you work, arrange the filled dumplings in a single layer without touching on large plates, so they don’t stick together.
- Pan-Fry the Dumplings: Heat 2 Tbs. vegetable oil in a heavy-duty 10- or 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working quickly and in batches if necessary (adding more oil for the second batch if needed), arrange the dumplings belly side down in concentric circles starting from the outer edge. Cook until golden brown on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes.
- Pour in about 1/2 cup water or enough to come about a third of the way up the sides of the dumplings, bring to a boil, cover, and cook until all of the water has been absorbed, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the lid, reduce the heat to medium, and continue cooking just until the dumplings are dry and crisp on the bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Loosen the dumplings from the pan with a spatula.
- Invert the pan over a plate to flip the dumplings, browned side up, onto the plate (or transfer with a spatula). Serve immediately with your choice of dipping sauce.
Makes 36 Dumplings
SCALLION-SOY DIPPING SAUCE
- 3 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon hot chile oil or toasted Asian sesame oil
- 1 small scallion, thinly sliced
- In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar. Stir until the sugar is completely dissolved and then stir in the oil and scallion.