Letting Life Lead
Our local grocery store has gotten on the “restaurant in the store” trend that has become popular in my area. They have had the deli, bakery, and pizza sections for a while, but recently they added in a sushi counter. Granted, this sushi is probably nothing like authentic Japanese sushi, but I still find it quite good. Likely, this is the freshest sushi I am likely to get without having to sell one of my organs. I made the mistake of buying some though, and now I am craving sushi all the time. On top of that, they had a sample of pot stickers and I just couldn’t stop thinking about them after I consumed them in about five minutes.
Anyone who has had pot stickers knows how good they are when they are made fresh. Anything else is just acceptable — at least in in my area. I’ve had pretty good pot stickers, but there just aren’t a lot of authentic restaurants I can easily travel to where I live. And by authentic, I mean that you will actually hear that cuisine’s language spoken at at least two tables and the menu will have English as the secondary language. This is how I knew that the Ginger House in New York City was going to have the best Chinese food I was going to have in a long time. They had those little bean paste buns. I may have squealed with childish glee. You never find those kinds of those things in a typical Chinese-American restaurant–at least not around here.
To make a long, unnecessary story longer, I decided to make my own pot stickers. They are not hard to do at all, just a little time consuming if you are making your own wrappers. Super quick if you just buy a package. As usual, I had to make a few substitutions. I made my own wrappers which were thicker than most people probably like them, but I like that gluten chew a lot. I had only 1/4 pound of ground pork, a lot of cabbage, and no shitake mushrooms. Instead, I used a bit of fish sauce and garlic for more flavor. The recipe inspiration is here: Damn Delicious: Homemade Potstickers
If you are not familiar with pot stickers, they are basically filled dumplings. They can also be pan fried, deep fired, boiled or steamed. I think most cultures have their version of filled dough. I am pretty sure that jiaozi, pierogi, ravioli, kroppkaka, mandu, kreplach and others by different names are variations on the same theme. I would even consider certain empanada types in the same category.
The dough is pretty basic: flour, water, and salt (sometimes a bit of oil in a few recipes). You are supposed to cut small knobs of dough and roll them out separately, but I have only a big honkin’ rolling pin that makes that really difficult for such a small round. Instead I got workout from rolling out the dough, then I used a biscuit cutter. If you do make your own wrappers, make sure you let that dough rest after the initial knead. It really makes a big difference.
I like the egg based recipes, but it is not necessary to use one. My mix leaned very heavy on the cabbage side and didn’t stick together very well. This makes it more challenging to fill the wrappers. Do wilt and drain the cabbage with salt, a rinse, rest, and a good squeeze. Otherwise, the cabbage will leak cabbage juice everywhere. Ingredients: finely chopped cabbage, thawed frozen ground pork, ginger, fish sauce, garlic, a little bit of soy sauce.
I made 32 pot stickers with some of the mix left over that could have probably made a dozen more. Any extra uncooked ones freeze very nicely. Crowd them in a pan with some oil and let them get good and crispy on the bottom. The one in picture is getting there, but I like mine quite carmelized so it needed longer. Once the bottom is the color of your liking, add water about halfway up the pot stickers. Cover with a lid (clear is easier to see) and boil until the water is all evaporated. Try not to peek unless necessary; use your ears. Once the water is evaporated off the bottom the pan, there will be sticky goodness left.
Delicious with or without a dipping sauce. Let’s be serious. You won’t be eating just two or freezing them.
That’s more like it! My children gave me the stink eye about these and very reluctantly tried one. Oh, how I regret that decision because from thereafter they wouldn’t leave my plate alone. I had to share them!
Do you like pot stickers? Do you thin fresh is best?
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Author of suspense novels Search For Maylee, Aggravated Momentum, The Stix, and New Age Lamians. As well as the short story collection Time Wasters and (co-author of) The Suspenseful Collection. Columnist for The Conscious Talk Magazine.
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