Crispy Dumplings Are Awesome!

I love potstickers. Well, I love all kinds of dumplings, but with potstickers you get the best of all worlds — a savory filling, crispy bits, chewy bits, tender bits. With a couple of simple sauces you’re set. Recently I made a couple of simple potstickers — pork & shiitake and shrimp & leek. Give it a try. It’s not as hard as you might think. I will demystify potstickers right now.

The green one is a shrimp & leek potsticker, and the one with the white wrapper is pork with a bit of shiitake mushroom.

To make potstickers you need to…

1) make the filling
2) fill wrappers
3) cook the postickers

Now, you can put out whatever dipping sauces you want, but at the very least you need some soy sauce, some kind of vinegar (Chinese red or black, ideally), some chili paste, and some spicy mustard. I recommend two dipping sauces (recipes provided below). The first is a zesty, homemade apricot sauce, much akin to the ubiquitous jarred plum sauce from Lee Kum Kee. The second is a sweet and acidic soy concoction with a bit of heat. They’re super-easy to make.

You will need to buy potsticker wrappers, which are available in virtually every major supermarket. If you have access to a good Asian market, you’ll find a dizzying array of dumpling wrappers. You’ll find the lovely green wrappers I used for the shrimp & leek potstickers, as well as square wrappers of varying colors and round wrappers of many thicknesses. Any round wrapper will do.

To seal the potstickers you’ll need an egg wash, which is simply one egg with a tablespoon of water beaten into it. You’ll need a pastry brush to apply it, although your finger will serve in a pinch.

Two Fillings:

each recipe makes 20-24 dumplings

Mix all the following ingredients very well. Chill for 30 minutes prior to wrapping.

Pork & Shiitakes:
1/2 pound ground pork
2 large shiitakes mushrooms, stems removed and minced
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon xao xing cooking wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced scallion greens
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of white pepper, pinch of black pepper

Shrimp & Leek:
1/2 pound fresh shrimp, minced
1/2 pound ground pork
1/4 cup minced leeks (white part only)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon xao xing cooking wine
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of white pepper, pinch of black pepper

Place filling in the center of the wrapper and fold over carefully. I chose a half-moon shape for the shrimp potsticker.

Fill the wrappers:

To fill your potstickers, lay six or eight round wrappers on a lightly floured cutting board. Brush wrappers with egg wash on the up surface. You don’t need to apply egg wash to the very inside of the wrapper, but at least a half-inch from the edge all the way around. Place a rounded tablespoon of your filling in the center of the wrapper. Gather the opposing edges together (not the pointed ends) and pinch to seal. With your fingertips squeeze from that edge down to the pointed ends, forming the filling in the middle into a plump mound. If you find any empty areas press the wrappers together to force air out and to flatten.

Regina made the pork potstickers and formed them into these cute “nun’s habit” dumplings.

Now crimp the edges in several places to form that distinctive pleated dumpling look. They are now ready to cook.

Cook Potstickers:

To cook postickers you’ll need a heavy-bottom, non-stick skillet or flat-bottomed wok with a tight fitting lid. Heat your pan over medium-high and add two tablespoons of vegetable or peanut oil. When the oil is very hot, but not smoking add your dumplings. Brown your dumplings on the one side or until golden. Flip over and lightly brown the other side.

Now, pour two to three tablespoons of water into the pan and cover the pan with the lid quickly and immediately. This will create an intense steam that will cook the dumplings through. Turn heat down to medium and cook for about three minutes or until the water has evaporated and the spattering has reduced to virtually nothing. Finish postickers by “re-crisping” on both sides for another minute or so.

Remove from pan, place on a platter, and eat right away with dipping sauces!

I love the beautiful green of these crispy dumplings!
They look like little paper boats floating on the tide.

Two Sauces:

Apricot Sauce:
1 cup unsweetened apricot preserves (Smuckers makes one called Simply Fruit)
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 slices of fresh ginger
pinch of chili flakes
pinch of white pepper

In a small pot combine all the ingredients and whisk well to combine. Bring to boil over medium high. When it boils vigorously, reduce heat and simmer on low for about ten minutes. Strain and set aside. When it’s room temperature it might be pretty thick. Feel free to dilute it as you need.

Sweet & Spicy Soy:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinese sweetened black vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon chili paste
1 teaspoon minced ginger

Combine ingredients with a spoons and serve.

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