My friend Bruce lived in the Chinese house on our college campus. He knew how to cook Chinese food. Since Chinese food is pretty much my favorite food ever, I begged and pleaded, and got him to agree to spend the day teaching me how to make basic Chinese food dishes. He didn’t actually have any real recipes, just some rules and guidelines and techniques. I learned how to make Beef and Broccoli, how to manage a basic Stir Fry, the ins and outs of Fried Rice, and my favorite…..Pot Stickers.
Some people call these dumplings, some call them Pot Stickers, I call them my favorite food of all time, and the fact that I know how to make them makes me SO happy. The filling is a basic meat filling, with vegetables and spices. The trick is to mix in egg, because the egg cooks faster than the meat, and helps make the ground meat cook faster so you don’t end up with some scary black dumpling with a still raw inside.
The biggest trick of Pot Stickers is folding them. It takes some practice, and many people give up before mastering them. It’s worth the time, because if you do it right, they sit upright in the pan and don’t lay flat like other folding methods.
- First, put a small amount of filling in the center of a round Pot Sticker wrapper- these aren’t the square wonton or egg roll wrappers. Look for round ones!
- Brush some water around the edges so that the edges stick together better when you seal them. I just stick my finger in the water, and run it around the edge of the wrapper.
- Fold the wrapper in half, but on ONE SIDE ONLY, pleat the dough as if you were making a paper fan, laying the pleats flat to one side. Make sure edges are pressed tight. If you fold both sides like a paper fan, you’re actually making Japanese Gyoza. You don’t want to confuse the two- Chinese Pot Stickers are the only way to go.
- Set Pot Stickers in a plate dusted with flour to keep them from sticking. Cook according to recipe directions.
Speaking of the filling, when I was taught, we used country sausage as the ground meat in the filling. It was good because it was already well seasoned. Lately, though, I’m finding that the sausage seasonings just clash with the asian seasonings. Maybe our grocery store seasons their sausage differently, maybe my tastes have changed, I don’t know. Either way, I recommend you buy ground pork instead, and season it well yourself with good Asian spices.
You cook these by pouring enough oil in the frying pan to coat the bottom well. Heat it, and place the dumplings in the oil. Fry until the bottoms are slightly browned. Then pour ¼-1/2 cup of water into the pan, and quickly put the lid on your skillet. Steam for a few minutes, or until the water starts to evaporate. Remove the lid and remove from the pan, or, if you’d like, keep them in a little longer to let the bottoms caramelize a bit. YUM!
By the way, I’m still friends with Bruce after all these years, at least via Facebook. He confessed once that he used his Chinese cooking to impress girls.
Well played, Bruce.
1 lb ground pork or chicken
¼ c chopped green onion
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
½-1c napa cabbage, finely chopped
1-2 tsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp salt
2 Tbl soy sauce
2 Tbl sesame oil
Pot Sticker, or Gyoza wrappers
Mix ingredients. Place a pinch of filling in the center of the wrapper, moisten to seal, fold. To cook, heat a few Tablespoons of oil in the bottom of a lidded skillet. When hot, add pot stickers. Fry until the bottoms are brown. Add ¼ cup water, and close lid. Let steam for 3-5 minutes. Remove lid, and continue cooking until the water is all evaporated, and bottoms are browned. Serve (I don’t recommend draining these on paper towels, no matter how tempting. The steamed pot stickers stick to the paper towel, and then you get bits of paper towel on your dumplings and that’s just wrong.) Makes about 4 dozen pot stickers.