Saturday, March 14, 2009


so last week i was wasting time watching food network, as i often do on weekends while waiting for my laundry to fold itself. bobby flay did a throwdown on chinese dumplings, or potstickers as we white folk like to call them.

i've been craving them ever since. like, dying for them. since i love to cook, i thought to myself, "self, you can probably make those. yeah, it looks like it will be a pain in the ass, but i still think you can do it."

so i went out to teh interwebz in search of a recipe and i found quite a few, but none that i loved and was dying to make. here was some of my criteria:

1. i didn't want to make the wrappers from scratch. that seemed like a giant PITA (pain in the you-know-what)and i didn't want to deal with it.

2. i wanted the recipe to include cabbage, because i love cabbage.

3. i only wanted to use pork as the filling inside. i knew my kids wouldn't be hip on shrimp or other weird crap. when introducing new stuff to them, i know the limits.

4. i didn't want to have to buy tons of expensive ingredients that i might only use one time. what if the recipe didn't turn out? or if my family didn't like it? i don't want to be stuck with a bottle of expensive seasoning i'll never use.

i took a few recipes i found and came up with the version below. i created the dipping sauce all on my own...and you'll just have to trust me when i tell you that it's good, because it does kinda sound weird.


*1 package round dumpling wrappers, approx. 60 count
*1 pound lean ground pork
*1 head napa cabbage (use napa, not regular)
*1-2 tsp. fresh ginger, minced finely (ginger is not for everyone...)
*5 green onions, thinly sliced, including the green tops
*1 T cornstarch
*1 T soy sauce
*black pepper
*kosher salt
*vegetable oil for frying

*1 T cornstarch
*1/4 cup cold water

dipping sauce:

*1/2 cup soy sauce
*1 tsp. sugar
*1-2 t. brown sugar

begin by preparing the napa cabbage. wash, remove the core and the outside leaves. slice very thin and place into a large bowl. salt with 2-3 tsp kosher salt, mix well. let the cabbage sit for about 10-15 mins. this will draw out the water and the cabbage will become limp. this is an important step and cannot be skipped - or you will have soggy dumplings. after 10-15 mins, place the cabbage into some cheesecloth or into a clean dishtowel and wring all the water out. again, this sounds like a pain in the butt (and it is, this whole recipe is. just do it.)

place the ground pork in a large bowl. add the minced ginger, and sliced green onions, including the green tops. add about 1/4 tsp pepper. by now, you should know that i really don't measure...i just eyeball it. add the sliced, drained cabbage. i wish i had sliced mine thinner and chopped it a bit more. mix well. you'll probably just want to use your hands, like you would mix meatloaf, but a spatula works nicely, too. i didn't add salt to the meat mixture, because i thought the cabbage was salty enough, and the dipping sauce's main ingredient is soy sauce, which is salty on its own.

now, let the fun begin. in a small dish, prepare the slurry. this is what you'll use to make the wrappers stick together. take 1 wrapper and moisten the edges with the slurry. place about 1/2 T of filling in the wrapper and fold the wrapper around the filling, rolling the filling out slightly inside. pinch the wrapper in the middle to seal. then, seal the sides, pleating only ONE side of the wrapper, and do either the right OR the left side first. make sure the bottom is flat. the finished potsticker should look like a purse. kinda. here's a link to show you with pictures how to fold them: if you scroll down a bit you can see photos of how they fold them.

trust me, it's not easy. in fact, it really is a PITA (see above). thankfully, i had jake to help me. i entertained him by talking to him with my asian voice:

me: sirry boy. you suck at making potsticker. it take you four hour to make 2 potsticker. you so razy and slow!

jake: (laughing) four hour! hahahah! razy! mom, you're funny.

me: risten, get working. you have lots of potsticker to make.

jake: mom, you are funny. you sound just like a chinese lady.

(dear internet, if you know me at all, you know i am not racist. i'm not making fun of asians. i worked with asians for many years and i love them with all my heart. i'd give my left leg to cook like they can.)

a few things here. first of all, it IS worth your time to make these, even though they are way time consuming and a giant PITA. it looks like you have too much filling for 60 wrappers, but you should turn out ok. we did, and i know my kids ate at least a few plain wrappers along the way.

after you've finished about half of the potstickers, it's time to think about cooking them. i have a large 12-inch skillet with a lid. you need a pan that has a lid. if you don't have a 12-inch skillet, you'll have to fry them in smaller batches. pour enough vegetable oil into the pan to just coat the bottom. i used about 1/3 of a cup. heat the oil over medium heat for several minutes. you don't want to put the potstickers in cold oil or they will get greasy. place about 1/2 of the folded and sealed potstickers into the hot oil. carefully. i burned myself and swore no fewer than 12 times and jake laughed every time. fry the potstickers for about 2-3 minutes, until you can see the edges of the dumplings getting very dark brown. you can lift one up to see if they are the right color.

this is where it gets scary, unless you have an apron made of steel and a face mask. measure about 1/2 cup water into a measuring cup. VERY CAREFULLY pout it into the skillet and immediately cover with a lid. steam the potstickers for about 5-7 minutes. even our fattest potstickers were cooked all the way through after about 6 minutes. you can remove one from the pan and cut it in half to be sure.

while your slave helper continues to fold the potstickers and the first batch cooks, make the dipping sauce. in a microwave-safe bowl, combine the soy sauce and the sugar. cook on high for approximately 2 minutes. you want it to boil and for all the sugar to dissolve. stir well.

keep folding the second batch of potstickers. at this point you'll be so sick of it you want to die. but your family is salivating over the first batch and you'll really want to be able to eat at least a couple, so keep making them. it won't seem like it, but you will finish.

remove the first batch from the pan with tongs, let cool slightly, and serve with dipping sauce.for the second batch, you may need to add a bit of oil and reheat it. i did not need to do this, but you may. steam them and cook them like you did with the first batch.

total PITA and totally worth it. i'd make them again.


Stacey Irwin said...

Why can I hear Nay's Voice or Flower when I read this! LMAO! I have to try this ... just for entertainment purposes only! alright, and I totally love potstickers. I tried them before but screwed em up. Will have to try them again.
I believe you and back you up on the dipping sauce. It reminds me of soya chicken dish.( I will have to post that one soon.)The sauce is SOOOO yummy!

I was going to tell you that I also thought Nay with my last cooking post and the word Creme filling. ( "ceme firrring"!LOL!)

Connie Weiss said...

OH MY Goodness....that was so entertaining to read!

I don't have an adequate helper/slave so I'm not sure I want to try these. LOL!