Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pork Potstickers & Steamed Dumplings

We eat potstickers, dim sum and dumplings as often as we can. But recently, M was under the weather and I'm a big believer in "soul food" to heal an illness: "soulfood" being that food which your soul is craving. In his case it was Chinese dumplings, so I set out to recreate a recipe which I'd only done in a restaurant at home. And I did so with great success I might add. Granted the wrappers and textures weren't all that sophisticated, but that lent authenticity and homemade "love" to the meal. Needless to say, M is feeling much better now.

Feel free to make this a family affair. We shopped together, I prepared the filling, we distracted our son with his own wonton skins to play with, and M oversaw the steaming and pan-frying. It was a very successful meal on a rainy Friday night.

Substitution: Use ground chicken or turkey for a leaner alternative!

Filling Ingredients:
1 pound ground pork
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2” piece of garlic, peeled and grated,
1 ½ cup pak choi, green only, thinly sliced (or use bok choy or nappa cabbage)
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 tsp dark sesame oil
1 Tbs tamari or soy sauce
2 scallions, green and white, sliced

In a large mixing bowl, mash the pork with a fork (or your hands) until it becomes rather creamy or silky in texture. Alternately, run it in a food processor for a few minutes, then transfer to a mixing bowl. If you skip this step, it’s no big deal. Your dumplings will have a heavier, meatier consistency, like a meat ball, but they’ll still taste good. Combing all of the other ingredients well and proceed to the assembly part.


Dipping Sauce: (measurements are approximate)
1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 Tbsp sweet rice wine (mirin)
1 Tbsp seasoned rice wine
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds
1 sliced scallion

Note about dip:
If the flavor is too “strong” for you liking, dilute with water, pineapple juice or orange juice. You can spice up the sauce with a little crushed red pepper or a dash of Sriacha or other pepper sauce. If you don’t have mirin, Add some sugar to your soy sauce, and dilute with water and juice. The goal is to make an easy dipping sauce that is lightly salty and sweet.


Note about wrappers:
Wonton or dumpling skins, or eggroll wrap cut into square quarters. Potstickers are easier to form using circle shaped dumpling wrappers. You can make purses or triangles out of the square shapes. Dumpling skins are better for steaming and are slightly thicker for a toothier bite. Eggroll and wonton skins are good crispy results from lightly pan frying in just a tiny bit of oil, or doing a combo pan-fry/steam cook (my favorite), or just for deep frying where they puff up and get crispy like the crab ragoons you get at fast food


Assemblage and Cooking Methods

To assemble:
Place a tsp of filling in the center of a wrapper. Dip your finger in water (or a slurry made of cornstarch and water) and run the damp finger along the edge of the wrapper. Fold over and seal the wrapper by pressing the damp edges together. You may crimp the edges my pinching to ensure a seal and make for “pretty” dumplings. This prevents leakage. These wrappers dry out quickly so work with just a few at a time and keep the rest under a damp kitchen towel. You can refrigerate them or even freeze them at this point for future use.

To pan fry:
Heat a clean pan with a tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium high heat. Cook the dumplings, without crowding the pan, until golden brown on one side (or test to see if they’re ready to flip by trying to move them. When they “un-stick” they’re ready to flip). Turn on the other side, reduce the heat to medium and allow to cook through.

To pan fry/steam:
Follow pan fry directions. Once you flip the dumplings over, add 1 Tbsp of water and QUICKLY put a lid on the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to cook through.

To steam (basket style):
Add water to the bottom of a fry kettle or steamer and bring up to a boil. Place some pak choi leaves or some other vegetable in the bottom of the steam basket and arrange the dumplings on top so that they are not touching. This prevents the dumplings from sticking ot the steamer basket. Situate the steam basket in the steamer and cover. Steam for about 10 minutes. Be mindful of the hot steam when removing the lid!

1 comment:

pixen said...

Thank you for visiting me. Very good idea of 'triangle' or samosa style dumplings! Like you, I prefer the combo style too. The method adds a crunch to the soft texture and more fragrant.

I support your idea of teaching people the 'real' food not 'fast food'. Nowadays, we resort to buy 'fast' or 'frozen' food to feed our family without knowing what's the quality & ingredients used. Worst, producers used those scientific equations that made us thought it's some sort of vitamins? I almost became that category of users :-D

What changed my mind was my mom. After her passing, I made the effort to recreate her cooking for my other 9 siblings LOL. Since she cooked by memory and no written down recipes, I had to use her technique as well but I wrote it down this time :-D I tried to teach my youngest sis as well to cook for her family instead of eating out all the time. Everyone is busy today... but why not try to cook a simple one-pot meals once a week? Sooner or later it will be more dishes on the table instead of pizzas or take-aways.

Keep it up your intentions. You got 2 thumbs up from me gal!