Food Origami: Potstickers Three Ways & DIY Dumplings

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dumpling recipe, potstickers

I can still remember the first time I ever had a guotie–translated literally “potstick,” or, you guessed it, “potsticker”–in a Shanghai breakfast house as a child. My household tended towards wonton soup and boiled dumplings, so my first experience crunching into a fried potsticker, stuffed with a juicy pork filling and irresistibly crisp on the bottom, was love at first bite.

Though a tad time-consuming, potstickers are gloriously easy to make at home. The dumpling dough is elegant simplicity at its best: just boiling water, flour, and a generous shake of salt. And the filling is customizable any way you like, from my favorite pork filling to delicate seafood to tofu and vegetables. With a group of friends, you’ll have an army of dumplings folded in no time–and if you’d like to save time in the future, make a huge batch at once and freeze them, uncooked, for later.

The recipe I prefer is one that’s more northern Chinese. Dumplings are popular almost everywhere in China, but the ones in the southern regions tend to be thinner-skinned, more similar to Japanese gyoza, whereas dumplings from Beijing and the northern parts of China are chewier and doughier, a hearty counterpart. If you’re partial to a more delicate dumpling, feel free to use storebought gyoza or wonton wrappers, or just roll the dough out thinner to a more pasta-like thickness.

dumpling recipe, potstickers

POTSTICKERS, THREE WAYS

This recipe makes about twenty-four to thirty-two dumplings, depending on the size. I used a 3.5-inch biscuit cutter for the dumpling rounds and ended up with twenty-four dumplings. Note that each of the filling recipes will make enough to accompany one batch of dough, so feel free to double or triple the dough recipe as needed. If you run out of dough, don’t worry. Just pop the filling in the fridge while you whip up another batch.

Dumpling dough


2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup boiling water (in drier conditions, you may need 1-2 Tbsp more)

dumpling recipe, potstickers

01. For the dough, whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Bring the water to a boil, then remove from heat. To be safe, let the water calm for a few seconds, then pour it in a slow, trickling stream into the bowl of flour, stirring with a wooden spoon as you go.

02. When all the water has been added, the flour mixture should be somewhat pebbly with many little lumps, and it won’t resemble a dough yet. Use your hands to bring the mixture together into one mass. If the dough refuses to hold together, trickle a tablespoon or two more of water over the dough and knead again.

03. When the dough comes together into one mass, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead for about 2 minutes, or until the ball is elastic and the surface is nearly smooth. Place the dough into a sealed container or plastic bag and let sit at room temperature for at least 15 minutes and up to 2 hours. In a closed container, the moisture will evenly distribute, allowing the dough to relax to a consistency that’s easy to work with and roll out. While the dough is resting, make your desired filling (recipes below).

04. When you’re ready to fold the dumplings, remove the dough from its bag or container. At this point, you can do one of two things–either pinch off a tablespoon of dough and roll each ball out one at a time, filling and folding the dumplings one by one, or roll out the dough all at once in larger portions and use a cookie cutter to cut out rounds. If following the latter (as shown in photos), divide the dough into four even pieces, then place all but one piece back into the sealed container to keep it soft while you work.

05. Roll the first piece out to about 1/8-inch thick, then use a biscuit cutter to cut however many rounds you can out of the dough. I manage about four. After cutting, gather up the remaining dough scraps into a ball and replace it in the sealed container to allow it to soften back up. Rolling it too much at once will make the dough tough to work with, but you can certainly reuse those scraps.

06. Flour each round liberally (or risk learning a hard lesson like I did, when every round sticks together and you have to do it all over again), and lay them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover the rounds with a towel while you roll out the rest.

07. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with the remaining three pieces of dough, then repeat the same steps with the leftover scraps of dough as many times as needed. I got about 4 rounds from each fourth of the dough, then about 2 to 3 from each of the remaining scrap balls.

For a pork or vegetable filling

1/2 lb (8 oz) ground pork (ground chicken or turkey would also work well here)
1 1/2 cup shredded napa cabbage, regular cabbage, or other leafy vegetable (I have used Brussels sprouts to great effect; kale and darker vegetables would work fantastically, too.)
1/2 tsp salt if using napa cabbage
1/2 Tbsp sugar (optional)
1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
1/2 Tbsp grated ginger
1 stalk green onion, minced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp cornstarch

For a seafood filling

1/2 lb (8 oz) shrimp, peeled, deveined, and diced into small pieces
1/4 cup garlic (Chinese) chives, regular chives, or green onions, chopped fine
1 to 1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp cornstarch

For a tofu and vegetable filling

1 1/2 cup shredded napa cabbage or other leafy vegetable
1/2 tsp salt if using napa cabbage
6 oz firm tofu (not silken)
2 oz mushrooms, diced (I used 2 large shiitake mushrooms)
1 to 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 stalk green onion, minced
1/2 tsp finely minced garlic
1 Tbsp cornstarch

o1. For each of the fillings, the steps are simple. If using napa cabbage, you’ll need to sprinkle salt over the rinsed cabbage and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cabbage wilts and releases water. (Otherwise, the water is released while cooking and can result in soggy dumplings.) Squeeze and drain the cabbage well, then mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.

02. If you’re using a vegetable with less water content, skip step one and just mix all the ingredients together.

03. Optionally, let the filling sit for about 30 minutes in the fridge to allow the flavors to marry.

To make the dumplings


1 batch dumpling dough, cut into rounds
1 batch desired filling
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 Tbsp water
A large saucepan or wok with lid

dumpling recipe, potstickers

01. Lay out the rounds and the filling. Place about a tablespoon of dough into a round, then gently fold in half. Pleat one side of the fold (as shown above) if desired, or simply seal however you like. Place the finished dumpling on a tray and cover with a towel while you fold the rest.

02. When you’re ready to cook, heat oil in a large wok or saucepan over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles when it hits the pan. Place the dumplings in a single layer in the wok, leaving a little space between each. (If they touch, they’ll stick together.) Let sizzle, taking care not to burn, until the bottoms are golden brown and crisp, about 2 to 5 minutes. I like to leave the heat a little lower and let the dumplings cook more slowly, since it doesn’t matter if they take a bit longer to brown up, but it’s disappointing if they burn!

dumpling recipe, potstickers

03. Once browned to your liking, pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of water into the pan and quickly cover, turning the heat to low. Let steam for 5-10 minutes or until dumplings are cooked through and water has evaporated. Feel free to remove one, leaving the rest covered, and test for doneness. (Note: Some recipes call for boiling the dumplings first, then panfrying – I prefer this method since it uses only one pan, but do what is comfortable for you.)

dumpling recipe, potstickers

04. Serve with your favorite dumpling dipping sauce. I usually use a base of 2-3 Tbsp black (Chinese) vinegar and 2 Tbsp chili-garlic paste, often with a touch of sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil.