Experiment: Potstickers

It’s been a while since our last experiment, but in the interim Jonny and I both moved from Oakland to apartments in Alameda! A few weeks before the big move, however, we were able to host a small but long-awaited potsticker making party with our friends Dion and Kathleen.

I’ve always been a huge fan of all things dumplings, but potstickers in particular I really enjoy. There are such a huge variety of potstickers that exist with a vast range of skin doughiness and different ingredients in the juicy meat/vegetable filling. I love that potstickers are complete meals in and of themselves, and that they present a contrast of texture in each bite, with the pillowy-doughy top, the juicy-meaty middle, and the crispy-seared bottom.

Scouring the internet for the “best” potsticker recipe, it was interesting to read about the differences and similarities between the traditional family recipes passed down from generation to generation. In many Asian families, dumpling making is a cherished tradition and bonding activity for grandmothers, mothers, and daughters to enjoy together. I myself have some fond memories wrapping dumplings and wontons with my mom while watching cooking shows on public television.

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For the potsticker making party Jonny and I hosted, we decided that we wanted to experiment with making our own wrapper dough using a mixture of flour and water. Our friends Dion and Kathleen brought some pre-made dumpling skins with them too, which was useful for making enough potsticker volume to fill us up and have leftovers! We made a fairly standard and simple filling using ground pork and napa cabbage. The recipe we roughly followed is called Chou Family Potstickers and was quite delicious, especially when eaten with a tangy potsticker dipping sauce.

I really enjoyed the texture of the homemade potsticker wrappers, but it was quite a bit of work rolling each individual wrapper out by hand. It was nice to have the ready-made dumpling skins to quickly finish up the filling when we ran out of dough, and it offered us a mix of potsticker textures to enjoy

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I think that potsticker wrapping is a fun dinner party idea because it is highly interactive, and it was entertaining to see each person’s unique dumpling wrapping method and pleating technique. Once a large tray of dumplings was made, I started to pan fry a batch while Jonny, Dion, and Kathleen kept assembling. I like to cook the potstickers close together on the pan in circular rings for a beautiful presentation later. Fresh potstickers (as opposed to frozen) brown surprisingly quickly, so I had to be sure to watch them closely when cooking. After the bottoms fry golden, I added about 3/4 cup of water to the pan and put the lid on to steam and cook the potsticker’s meat filling. When the water was gone, I allowed the potsticker bottoms to finish frying to a deep brown color so that they will be crisp and crunchy. Because I cooked the potstickers close together, the bottoms stick together slightly. I like use a spatula to loosen the potstickers from the pan, place a large upside-down plate on top on the pan, and flip the whole thing over to serve!

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Because everyone has their own preferences on dipping sauces, we just pulled everything out of the cupboard and let people customize. I like a good mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, and sriracha for my sauce, but to each his own! While delicious eaten on their own, we enjoyed our potstickers with some stir-fried green beans and tofu-egg-creamed corn soup (recipe to come).

Overall, we had a great time! I think we ended up making about four plates of potstickers and consumed three of them for dinner that night! If you make too many, you can always freeze the uncooked potstickers. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and freeze the potstickers separately before putting them into a ziploc bag to prevent any sticking!

Enjoy!

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Dion and Kathleen expertly customizing their dipping sauces!
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