If Tom Brady had eaten these potstickers, the Patriots might have won the game.
Along with the bagna beans, I wanted something else to bring to anti-Super Bowl day, preferably something easily eaten with one hand while playing Scrabble with the other. Something involving one food stuffed inside another food. Something with pork (it’s been over a week!).
The answer: potstickers.
You can’t tell from the close-up shot, but this dumpling is at 4th and long.
I wanted something with classic potsticker flavor – pork and cabbage, redolent with ginger and sesame. Charlie Palmer ponzu aside (“Judo chop!”), I don’t have a lot of experience preparing Asian/Chinese food. I do, however, have extensive experience eating cheap Chinese takeout and more experience than I’d like to admit eating at Chinese buffets. (You would too if you’d grown up in central New Jersey. Okay, and I really love the doughnuts. Don’t judge.) As you can imagine, my standards are pretty high.
I scoured the internet and my cookbook collection for recipes, got the gist, and created my own concoction: ground pork, napa cabbage, red pepper, ginger, garlic, soy, sesame oil, hoisin, and a teeny bit of thai chili paste. Sometimes you need a kick when you’re playing Scrabble.
Scrabble challenge: G I K E E D R. 30 seconds. Go.
I mixed the whole shebang together, managed to refrain from making a meat zombie with the mixture, and sat down to fill my dumplings.
Unfortunately my wonton wrappers were irregularly sized despite the fact that they had not been purchased at an outlet mall; they weren’t quite square, but were maddeningly close. They definitely weren’t round, so cute little ruffled half-moons were not an option. They weren’t square, so folding corner-to-corner created alignment problems, and if there’s one thing that really sticks in my craw it’s poorly aligned potsticker edges (also: the Nextel walkie-talkie noise and the movie “Saving Silverman”).
I started out hiding my misaligned dumplings by making the little packages seen in Fig 1, above. After dumpling 20 or 25, I got bored and made plain rectangles by folding the wonton wrappers in half. Who else is going to see these things? Sure, you will, but I control what you see here, don’t I? Yes, I do. Anyway, the rectangles were less precious but just as yummy, and took the half the time to make. If I want cute potstickers next time, I may invite some friends over for a dumpling bee.
No pots were harmed in the making of these potstickers, although I did curse at a spatula.
The finished dumplings take 4 minutes to cook to perfection: 2 minutes in a lightly oiled pan – to which they will stick – and 2 minutes steaming in some chicken stock, which will finish cooking the filling and unstick ’em. These 2-bite delights are studies in delicious contradiction: crispy but tender, pungent from garlic and ginger but sweet from the veggies and hoisin, and perfumed throughout with sesame. They are better than any takeout dumplings you can get, unless you live in Chinatown (or China). They’re tasty dipped in soy, but are truly fantastic with leftover ponzu. And as noted above, they may well help you win the Super Bowl.
Want some more things filled with other things? Of course you do! Here you go:
- The Passionate Cook tempts with apple, pecan and blue cheese wrapped in phyllo and polenta dumplings stuffed with cheese. Swoon.
- The “Yum” Blog presents classic samosas, with which one cannot go wrong.
- The Knead for Bread shamelessly exploits my weakness for pork with BBQ pork buns.
- Stuffed things need not only be savory: witness Tartelette’s Nutella ravioli (and still in time for World Nutella Day!).
- The Accidental Vegetarian has veggie potstickers – and homemade wonton wrappers!
1/2 pound ground pork
2 cups shredded Napa cabbage
1/2 red pepper, finely diced
1 large egg
2 tbsp. garlic, finely minced or grated
2 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp. Thai chili paste
1/2 tsp. sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp. hoisin
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
50 wonton wrappers
1/4 c. water
1 tsp. canola oil
2/3 c chicken or veggie stock
Put all the ingredients except the wonton wrappers, water, stock and canola oil in a large bowl and combine thoroughly; the best way is with your hands.
For each dumpling, lay one wonton wrapper on your work surface. Paint the edges of the wrapper with water to help them stick together. Spoon 1 teaspoon of pork filling into the wrapper (this may vary depending on the size of your wrappers). Fold however the hell you want, as long as all the edges are securely sealed.
To cook, heat a large skillet over medium/medium-high heat. Put a thin layer of canola oil in the pan; I like to pour a small amount in and use a pastry brush or wadded paper towel to spread it around. Lay the potstickers in the hot pan, being careful not to crowd them, and cook for 2 minutes; they will stick firmly to the pan. Pour in the stock, cover the pan, and cook for another 2 minutes.
Remove the lid and carefully lift the potstickers out of the pan; I like a fish spatula to do this. The may be slightly resistant to removal, but give them a nudge and they’ll come right out. Wipe out your pan (or deglaze it with some water to get up any gunk in the bottom) before cooking the next batch.
Serve with soy, ponzu or your dipping sauce of choice.