I wanted to take on the project of learning how to make Pot Stickers the old fashioned way. No store-bought wrappers. Went to the library and borrowed Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen. Since I'm a total newbie at this, it took a total of about 2 1/2 hours with constantly reading the cookbook and checking myself, so in the future the time should be cut way down. Overall, I didn't mind spending the time on this project – it was actually fun.
I made the filling first, then made the dough. In the future, I will do the opposite. If you make the dough first, it can sit in a bag softening while you make the filling. The recipe says to let the filling sit out for 30 minutes at room temperature to allow the flavors to meld, but believe me, it will sit out and meld as you make the wrappers.
The following photo captions won't make much sense until you read through the recipe. But if you try the recipe, looking back at these photos may help to make sense of the instructions.
After water was drawn out of this Napa cabbage, squeezed by hand and then with a clean cotton cloth.
If you are thinking of leaving out the shrimp, that's fine, but don't even think about leaving out the pork. It's fat is necessary for the method of cooking it requires.
My dough is probably a little on the dry side, probably because I used King Arthur's flour which oftentimes requires a bit more liquid than other flours would need. But it still worked out fine…
Although I was concerned about my dough being dry, the recipe author explains that the dough should bounce back slowly when you press it with your finger, which it did.
And what I didn't realize was that because the dough is made with hot water, when you leave it in the bag with the air expelled, it softens from the moisture and becomes easy to work with.
I cut the top off a zip-top bag and put a little flour in it or otherwise the dough sticks. Then I put the little dough ball in the bag and used a saucepan to flatten the disk as flat as I could, about 1/8".
Then you take each wrapper and, leaving a thicker "belly" in the center, roll the edges toward you while rotating the circle around 1/4 turn.
Mine turned out to be somewhat irregular circles but it worked out just fine, especially for a beginner. Pot stickers don't have to be pretty, nor perfect, to taste good. The smaller disk in the back of this photo is one that hasn't been rolled out yet. This shows the size difference you can expect.
The flavors of this filling were awesome. Bought many of my Asian ingredients at Jungle Jim's over the weekend.
Not as beautiful as some, but certainly tasty.
Japanese Pork and Shrimp Pot Stickers
Compliments of JennaDish
from Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen
MAKES 32 DUMPLINGS (4 as main course, 6-8 as appetizer)
2 cups lightly packed, finely chopped napa cabbage, cut from whole leaves (about 7 ounces or 3 leaves)
1/2 teaspoon plus 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced and crushed into a paste (I minced only)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons chopped Chinese chives or scallions (white and green parts)
6 ounces ground pork, fattier kind preferred, coarsely chopped to loosen
1/3 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, and chopped (4 1/2 ounces net weight)
Scant 1/4 teaspoon sugar
Generous 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 Tablespoons Japanese soy sauce or light (regular) soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sake (I used Sherry)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
BASIC DUMPLING DOUGH
10 ounces (2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
About 3/4 cup boiling water
Canola oil or sesame oil or a combination of both, for pan frying
5 Tablespoons Japanese soy sauce or light (regular) soy sauce
2 1/2 Tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chile oil (optional)
Japanese hot mustard, Chinese hot mustard, or Colman's English mustard for dipping (optional)
TO MAKE THE FILLING
In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the 1/2 teaspoon salt. Set aside for about 15 minutes to draw excess moisture from the cabbage. Drain n a fine-mesh strainer, rinse with water, and drain again. To remove more moisture, squeeze the cabbage in your hands over the sink, or put into a cotton (not terry cloth) kitchen towel and wring out the moisture over the sink. You should have about 1/2 cup firmly packed cabbage.
TRANSFER THE CABBAGE to a bowl and add the garlic, ginger, Chinese chives, pork, and shrimp. Stir and lightly mash the ingredients so that they start coming together.
IN A SMALL BOWL, stir together the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the sugar, pepper, soy sauce, sake, and sesame oil. Pour these seasonings over the meat and cabbage mixture, and then stir and fold the ingredients together. Once you have broken up the large chunks of pork so none are visible, briskly stir to blend the ingredients into a cohesive, thick mixture. To develop the flavors, cover with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. You should have about 2 cups of filling. (Can prepare filling 1 day ahead – bring to room temperature before assembling the dumplings.)
MEANWHILE, form 16 wrappers from 1/2 the dough. Aim for wrappers that are about 3 1/4 inches in diameter. (This is where I found a glitch in this recipe. It never mentions again to make another 16 wrappers with the remaining dough – but you WILL need to do this to use up all dough and filling. When using only half the dough in the beginning, place the other half back in the plastic bag and remove all air, letting sit until needed.)
BEFORE ASSEMBLING the dumplings, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (If you plan to refrigerate the dumplings for several hours, or freeze them, lightly dust the paper with flour to avoid sticking.) For each dumpling, hold a wrapper in a slightly cupped hand. My simplified instructions: Scoop up about 1 tablespoon of filling and place in the center leaving just enough edge to pinch together – no fancy pattern. I chose to make 24 fat dumplings so I put at least 1 tablespoon in each 3 1/4" diameter wrapper, and even when the filling oozed to the edge, the dough still pinched together just fine.
When finished with the first half, cover with a dry kitchen towel while making the other 16 (or 8) wrappers and filling.
ONCE ALL The dumplings are assembled, they can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours; they can be cooked straight from the refrigerator. For longer storage, freeze them on their tray until hard (about 1 hour), transfer them to a zip-top freezer bag, seal well, and keep them frozen for up to 1 month; partially thaw, using your finger to smooth over any cracks that may have formed during freezing, before cooking.
TO PANFRY the dumplings, use a medium or large nonstick skillet (using skillets or pan with fitted lids work best), if both sizes are handy, cook two batches at the same time. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and put 1 1/2 – 2 Tablespoons oil (canola or 2 parts canola to 1 part sesame oil) in each pan. Add the dumplings one at a time, placing them sealed edges up in a winding circle pattern or straight rows. The dumplings may touch. Fry 1-2 minutes until they're golden brown on the bottom.
HOLDING THE LID over the skillet (ready to protect yourself from the steam that is to come) add about 1/3 hot water to each skillet. It will boil and sputter dramatically. Put the lid on each skillet and lower the heat to medium and let the water bubble away until it si mostly gone, 8 to 10 minutes. After 6-8 minutes, move the lid or foil so that is is slightly ajar to allow the steam to shoot out from underneath. This lessens the drama of condensation dripping down onto the hot oil when you remove the lid.
WHILE THE DUMPLINGS cook, combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, and chile oil in a small bowl to create a dipping sauce. Taste and make any flavor adjustments.
WHEN THE BUBBLING noise in the skillet turns into a gently frying sound (a sign that most of the water is gone), remove the lid. Allow the dumplings to fry for another 1 to 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are brwon and crisp. Turn off the heat and wait until the sizzling stops before transferring the dumplings to a serving plate, using a spatula to lift up a few of them at a time. Display them with the bottoms up so that they remain crisp.
SERVE IMMEDIATELY with dipping sauce in a communal bowl or divided up among individual rice bowls or dipping bowls. If serving hot mustard, use a separate bowl for this.
TO MAKE THE DOUGH (with food processor)
Put the 10 ounces (or 2 cups) flour in the work bowl of the food processor. With the machine running, add 3/4 cup of water just-boiled water in a steady stream through the feed tube. As soon as all the water has been added, stop the machine and check the dough. It should look rough and feel soft but firm enough to hold its shape when pinched. If necessary, add water by the teaspoon or flour by the tablespoon. When satisfied, run the machine for another 5 to 10 seconds to further knead and form a ball around the blade. Avoid overworking the dough.
Transfer the dough and any bits to a work surface; flour your work surface only if necessary, and then sparingly. Knead the dough with the heel of your hand for about 30 seconds. The result should be nearly smooth and somewhat elastic; press on the dough; it should slowly bounce back, with a light impression of your finger remaining. Place the dough in a zip-top bag and seal tightly closed, expelling excess air. Set aside to rest at room temperture for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours. The dough will steam up the plastic bag and become earlobe soft, making wrappers easy to work with.
After resting, the dough can be used right away to form the wrappers. Or, refrigerate it overnight and return to room temperature before using.
When the dough is ready, take out, cut in half and work with the first half while the 2nd half goes back in the bag to keep soft. Roll the dough you are starting to work with into a 1" log as even as possible. Cut into 16 even pieces, shaping the dough into somewhat of a ball. One by one, put the ball of dough between two pieces of wax paper or in a freezer bag dusted with a little flour, place on table and find a flat item such as a saucepan to flatten into a circle 1/8" thick. Lay aside each round on non-stick paper until all are finished.
Going back to each round, take a small rolling pin or dowel and, keeping away from the very center (leaving a nickel or quarter size area of thickness in the center), roll the wrapper from near center toward you, spin 1/4 turn, do the same all the way around until it's about 3 1/4" in diameter with a slightly thicker "belly" than the rest of the circle.