I’m a total sucker for Asian dumplings. Gyoza, Lumpia, Dim Sum, Soup Dumplings, Bao …. I love them all. If I’m eating at an Asian restaurant, You can count on me ordering some sort of dumpling appetizer at least.
On that note, if we are ever socializing, and you hear me refer to your lady as “dumpling” I suggest you separate the two of us before I have any more to drink.
The most well known and my favorite of all of them is pot stickers. Pillowy dumplings filled with meat and/or seafood, crispy on one edge, soft on the others, and served with a salty dip that has just a touch of heat: that’s dining heaven for me. That’s why when I was looking at a bowl full of freshly caught spot prawn tails, I couldn’t resist making some shrimp pot stickers.
Pot stickers aren’t something most of us think of as a dish we’d make ourselves. They are primarily considered a restaurant item, or maybe something you buy pre-made from the freezer section.
The thing is, aside from needing to get a few specialty ingredients, most of which can be found in the Asian section of most good sized supermarkets, pot stickers are surprisingly simple to make.
Simple to make, and yet usually pretty impressive to anyone for whom you’re cooking. You’ll often get a “You made these??” type of reaction from your dinner company. It’s one of those dishes we in the business call, a “panty dropper”.
Then again, that’s pretty much true of any well made meal with a touch of flair. I could pretty much call this site, Bait 2 Panties.
….. but I digress.
The filling is a simple chop-n-mix, as is the dipping sauce. The dough is stupidly simple to make, especially if you have a food processor. All you’re doing is blending hot water into flour for about 30 seconds. The part that takes a little finesse, is rolling out the dough and shaping the dumplings, and even that isn’t as hard as you might think.
Still, there are shortcuts available if you want to make the process even easier. An inexpensive dumpling press will form them for you, and you can even purchase pre-made dumpling wrappers.
Of course hand formed dumplings made from fresh dough are going to give you the best result. It relates to the core philosophy of this blog, Nothing tastes as good as your own catch. Similarly, the more “from scratch” your dish is, the more you are going to enjoy it.
Shrimp Pot Stickers
- ½ cup minced napa cabbage, about 1 leaf
- ¼ cup chopped broccoli slaw
- 1 Tbs chopped cilantro
- 2 minced scallions
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
- 1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
- 2 tsp Shaoxing wine, dry sherry or rice wine
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- ½ lb of spot prawn tails or other shrimp chopped,
- (You can also use 4 oz. of shrimp & 4 oz. of ground pork)
- 1 egg white
Combine all ingredients and let rest in refrigerator until ready to make dumplings.
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
½ tsp chili oil
½ tsp fish sauce
1 scallion, chopped
¼ cup soy sauce, Japanese soy works best for this because it’s a little lighter than the Chinese style
2 Tbs sweet chili sauce (Mae Ploy)
1 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs Shaoxing wine, or other rice wine
Combine all ingredients
2 cups all purpose flour
a small pot of boiling water, remove it from the heat just before making the dough so that the water is still very hot.
Seriously, flour & water, those are the only ingredients in the dough.
This dough recipe is from Andrea Nguyen’s wonderful book, Asian Dumplings. It’s simple (clearly) and very good.
Rather than paraphrase it myself, I’ll just give you her instructions, with some of my own photos of the process.
As soon as all the water has been added, stop the machine and check the dough. It should look rough and feel soft but firm enough to hold its shape when pinched. If necessary, add water by the teaspoon or flour by the tablespoon.
Alternatively, make the dough by hand. Put a bowl atop a kitchen towel to prevent it from slipping while you work. Put the flour in the bowl and make a well in the center. Use a wooden spoon or bamboo rice paddle to stir the flour while you add 3/4 cup water in a steady stream. Aim to evenly moisten the flour. It is okay to pause to stir or add water—it is hard to simultaneously do both actions. When all the water has been added, you will have lots of lumpy bits. Knead the dough in the bowl (it is not terribly hot) to bring all the lumps into one mass; if the dough does not come together easily, add water by the teaspoon.
Regardless of the mixing method, transfer the dough and any bits to a work surface; flour your work surface only if necessary, and then sparingly. Knead the dough (it is not hot) with the heel of your hand for about 30 seconds for machine-made dough, or about 2 minutes for handmade dough. The result should be nearly smooth and somewhat elastic; press on the dough; it should slowly bounce back, with a light impression of your finger remaining. Place the dough in a zip-top plastic bag and seal tightly closed, expelling excess air. Set aside to rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours. The dough will steam up the plastic bag and become earlobe soft, which makes wrappers easy to work with.
Then you’ll cut 1 inch slices off this to make your wrappers. The dough will dry out quickly if exposed to air, so keep it covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel as you work.
Rolling out the individual wrappers, and forming the dumplings, takes a bit of technique. Although there are shortcuts you can take. Rather than type all that out, it’s easier to do my hand model impression, and just show you.
I should mention that the reason you want the dough to be rolled thinner on the edges than in the middle, is because when the edges are brought together in forming the dumpling, the thickness of the pastry will be more even all around.
Steaming is a common way to cook dumplings like this, and that works well. Although many places that say their dumplings are “steamed” are actually boiling them. That’s works too, boiled dumplings are delicious. Just drop them into a pot of lightly salted boiling water, and boil them for about 5 minutes.
My favorite way though is pan fried, pot sticker style, with a crispy bottom to them. That’s done by cooking them in a hot pan with a little bit of oil, then adding about ½ cup of water to the pan and covering it, so that they are searing on the bottom and steaming everywhere else.
Don’t take my word for it, let Mr. Hands demonstrate.
Serve them immediately, with a small dish of dipping sauce on the side. Chop sticks and fancy looking plates are optional of course, but they do add a touch flair to the presentation, and that helps with that whole “dropped panties” thing.