Thursday, July 26, 2012
pork dumplings (potstickers)
My mom is a great cook. I know a lot of kids grow up thinking this way, but what I love about my mom is that she still makes a lot of traditional Chinese dishes, even though she's been a Canadian citizen for over 40 years. She even makes many traditional dishes that her friends and family don't bother to make any more at home because they're too time-consuming (like zong zhi, turnip cake and Fa Cai Hao Shi).
Now that I've decided to become a better cook myself, I've been shadowing my mother in the kitchen, in the hopes of picking up some of her recipes so that I can try making them myself. A lovely idea in theory, but, as many of you know, moms who are great cooks never seem to have a "recipe" - they just throw in the ingredients and it magically comes together. Whenever I ask my mom for measurements, I get a shrug and an "I don't know, it'll just look right". Yeah, thanks mom. That doesn't help me when I 'm trying to make the dish on my own (or trying to write a recipe blog post!)
I finally managed to nail down (I hope) my mom's pork dumpling recipe. These are probably better known as "potstickers", but I've never referred to them as such, so prefer to continue calling them dumplings. They have that nice crispy brown bottom and I you can exchange the pork for another meat (or shrimp), but my mom has always made these with pork (she does, however, sometimes sub in another green for the Napa cabbage).
Make sure you get dumpling wrappers, and not won ton wrappers (they're square and thinner) so that these hold up to the steaming and frying.
pork dumplings (potstickers)
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
1 small Napa cabbage
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons light soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/4 teaspoon chicken broth powder
1 egg, beaten
some lukewarm water or egg white
4 packages of round Chinese dumpling wrappers
1 cup of water
In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Separate the cabbage leaves and place them in the boiling water for 2 minutes until the leaves are just softened. Remove pot from the heat, but let the cabbage sit in the hot water for 1 more minute. Drain and wring out any excess water from the cabbage leaves. Dice the cabbage into tiny pieces (about 1/2 inch squares) and set aside.
Place the ground pork in a large bowl and add garlic powder, sugar, light soy sauce, sesame oil, salt, ground white pepper, corn starch and chicken broth powder. Mix together until combined. Add beaten egg and diced cabbage to the meat mixture. Mix together until well combined.
Drop approximately 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of the filling into the centre of the dumpling wrapper (how much filling you use will depend on how large your dumpling wrappers are - don't overfill!). Dip your finger into some lukewarm water (or egg white) and run your wet finger along the edge of half of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over and press the edges together to seal it (the water will help seal the wrapper). You can either just press it down flat, or crimp the edges together for a better seal (and prettier dumpling).
At this point, you can freeze any (uncooked) dumplings that you won't be eating immediately. Place them in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until they are completely frozen. Once frozen, you can transfer the dumplings into an airtight container and these will keep for up to 2 months.
To cook (from fresh or frozen state):
Warm a frying pan on Medium-High. Add a little oil. "Sit" the dumplings in a single layer onto the frying pan so that they bottoms are flat on the pan. During the entire cooking process, make sure the dumplings stay sitting in this upright position. Fry until the bottoms of the dumplings are browned and a little crispy.
When the bottoms are browned, add 1 cup of water to the pan and cover for 5 minutes.
Remove lid and continue frying the dumplings.
When all the water has evaporated, lower the heat to Medium-Low and cook for another 5 minutes (if you use another meat besides pork, you may have to adjust this cooking time)
Remove from pan and serve immediately.
yields: Approximately 140 dumplings