Monday, July 28, 2014

Friends and Potstickers

There's an Asian market close to my home and I love poking around there and shopping for all kinds of ingredients. Some become instant favorites, such as jasmine rice, and others are more aspirational, like the packet of dumpling wrappers that ended up sitting in the freezer for several months.

I've made potstickers once before and blogged about it too- but I basically winged it with the filling. And I occasionally buy a bag of frozen vegetable dumplings to add to soup or to serve as an appetizer with a stir fry.

This time I got lucky- I mentioned the lonely dumpling wrappers in the freezer to my dear friend who happens to be Chinese American, born and raised in Queens, NY. She suggested that we get together and make dumplings together- and we got together yesterday for our dumpling party.

My friend showed up with her family and a large grocery sack of supplies. Then we got down to business- and here's the recipe she taught me. Her method is as simple as can be, the filling is raw and comes together in minutes.

The wrappers: I'm happy to make dumplings "from scratch" but I have no intentions of making the dumpling wrappers from scratch. We used 2 packs, each with 40 wrappers- one was Nasoya brand square wrappers (found next to the tofu in the refrigerated section of many supermarkets) and the other was Twin Dragon round wrappers that I found in the Asian store.

We used a large bowl to mix together the filling:

  • 1 package crumbled firm tofu (drain the tofu well before crumbling it)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 3-4 green onions, minced
  • 4-5 shiitake mushrooms, minced (these are found in most grocery stores)
  • 1/2 cup (or so) minced preserved turnips. These are very salty on their own but add wonderful flavor to the filling. They can be found in Asian stores.

We seasoned the filling with

  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Wash your hands well, then get in there and mix the filling together well. 



Then it was time to make the dumplings. Set out a small bowl of water. Put a teaspoonful or two of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Dip a finger in the water, wet the edges of the wrapper and press them together firmly to make a semi-circle or triangle (depending on the shape of the wrapper). Keep making dumplings and setting them on a plate.

Cooking the potstickers: Then fire up the stove and heat up a wide and shallow saute pan. Add 2 tbsp. oil and place dumplings in a single layer in the hot pan. Once the bottom of the dumplings is browned, add 1/3 cup vegetable broth and cover the pan. 3-4 minutes later, the broth will have evaporated and the dumplings will be steamed through. Use a spatula or tongs to gently remove them.

Serve the potstickers right away with a dipping sauce:

  • Soy sauce
  • Honey
  • Ginger-garlic, minced
  • Scallions, minced

This was just so much fun- we were all crowded into the kitchen, I was making dumplings at a furious pace while my friend expertly cooked them, then as a new batch emerged, everyone grabbed them and gobbled them while trying not to burn their fingers. The potstickers were crisp and tender, and the taste was spot on.

We made 80 dumplings and managed to eat over 60 of them between 4 adults and 3 little girls. What a perfect way to spend the evening. I'll really glad to have learned my friend's family recipe and I have no doubt it will become a fun family tradition in our home too. 

Did you do anything fun this weekend?

32 comments:

  1. That sounds like a lot of fun! you are lucky to have such good friends.

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    1. I am very lucky in having amazing friends!

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  2. Sounds like a perfect finish to a sunday evening.. Great idea too. Will have to try these soon. (Have always wondered if one of the classic tambram sweets the kozhakattai ("modak") can be made in a similarly low-tech fashion.. )

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    1. Brilliant idea, Janani! I'll definitely have to try this with a modak filling for Diwali.

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  3. uch awesome fun! I was also lucky enough to have had the chance to make dumplings with a Chinese friend but I was too pre-occupied with the "eating" section at the end of the assembly line to pay any attention to what actually went into the dumpling. Thanks so much for the recipe!

    Simi

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    1. LOL true, when they start coming off the pan, the eating takes precedence!

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  4. I made pot-stickers once, from your blog ( the old post). I must try my hand at them again. In fact, this reminds me, i have a packet of triangular rice wrappers ( the ones used in summer rolls) I picked them up on a whim ( hence the shape) and now don't know how to use them up :(

    It is so much fun to get together with old friends and cook and share the food. I should have a dumpling party like yours, sounds so much fun! And hopefully use up the triangular summer rolls too.

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    1. Triangular, eh? How does one roll those? I've only ever seen square or circular ones. Wait, maybe this gives a demo
      http://thevegetarianginger.com/2013/09/16/shiitake-yucca-and-tofu-fried-rice-paper-rolls/

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  5. I would love to try the recipe, but if possible, can you please post a picture of the turnips (and packaging) so I can find them in my Asian grocery store? Also, are they in the refrigerator section? Thank you!

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    1. Sounds like someone helped you below! I don't have a pic, sorry, my friend brought it over in a plastic dabba and took the rest back home.

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  6. The preserved turnip or preserved radish comes in a plastic bag/package. There are so many different brands that I fear posting just one photo won't be so helpful. You can find it whole (a hunk of preserved turnip/radish) or shredded. It is brownish in color. It is usually refrigerated. It is not the "preserved vegetable" that comes in a can and not the "pickled radish" that is bright yellow in liquid. When you use it, take what you need out of the package and rinse it in cold water a couple of times, then pat dry. Store the rest in the fridge.
    Other things you can use in the dumpling filling: shredded napa cabbage, minced red pepper, water chestnuts, basically anything you have in the fridge.

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    1. Thank you for the helpful information. I should be able to locate it now.

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  7. OMG, this is SO awesome!! I just love love love Asian dumplings (got hooked on it when I had a Chinese roommate in college) but have never been able to find a good vegetarian recipe(I've tried a few). And this one sounds so straightforward I can't wait to go out and get the stuff!! Do you know if these can be frozen or how long they last (obviously not long in your house LOL)? Also can these be just steamed like the ones you can get at Chinese restaurants sometimes?
    You do have the awesomest friends :-)
    Prashanti

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    1. I am quite sure they could be frozen, but we didn't try. Yes, they can definitely be steamed! I do have wonderful friends, very grateful for them too :)

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  8. Those look delicious! You used fresh shiitake mushrooms? Or rehydrated dried ones? Either way, yum! I've never used preserved turnips before but I'll have to track them down.

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    1. I used fresh shiitakes, they seem to be even in my local grocery store these days!

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  9. This recipe couldn't be more timely, my daughter was just asking if we could make these at home. Going to try this recipe.

    Our weekend was quiet, took the kids to the splash pad in our community and a picnic dinner afterwards in the park.

    -Anu

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    1. It is a fun recipe to try with kids, Anu, well, kids that are older than 3 anyhow. Your weekend sounds fantastic!

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  10. Cooking together parties are always fun! I also happen to have a box of wrappers sitting around - now I am inspired to make something out of it. Love the simple dipping sauce!

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    1. Awesome, use your wrappers and tell me if the recipe worked for you :)

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  11. Love potstickers. Will bookmark it for future use. Had an uneventful but nice weekend filled with going to the playground, eating icecream and watching an old black and white detective movie calle the saint takes a vacation.Arpita.

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    1. Sounds like fun! You're a big one for vintage detective things, both in books and in film, eh? :)

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    2. I'm pretty much stuck in the 1930s :) if you haven't already do try the thin man series starring William Powell and Myrna loy. Detective work with a splash of humour.

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  12. sounds like such a fun get together. I love it when friends cook together. :)
    Our weekend was so random! No plan, to-do-lists ignored, socialising put on hold..we just hung about in and around our home, read, went to the pool and talked! we also tried one of those inflatable pools in our patio..Our 10 month old had fun splashing about. It was so much fun to see him squealing and sloshing about!

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    1. I love cooking with friends too, and am thinking I should do it more often!! At least that is possible now that my kid plays with her friends and doesn't need total supervision. Kids and splash pools are a terrific combo :)

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  13. YUMMM!!! My husband loves potstickers but I've always been too intimidated to try them. This sounds really easy and I bet my toddler would love to help with the filling, too.

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    1. I was amazed at how easy these are to make- do try them!

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  14. I've made steamed momos a couple of times but this is an interesting variation where the dumplings are fried first and then get steamed in the same pot! I had assumed that pot stickers are just the same as fried momos.

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    1. Yes- the end result is quite wonderful- crispy at the bottom and steamed at the top- the best of both worlds. Plus it works quicker than steaming and uses less oil than frying.

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  15. sounds amazing! but pretty much all your food experiments esp. the cross cultural ones do! speaking of which (and sorry this comes very late) - I recently tried a batch of your red enchilada sauce - unfortunately didn't turn out as expected, I wonder if you can advise on where I might have gone wrong? I live in London and sourced the dried guajilio and ancho peppers from a mexican store - they seemed spot on. (http://www.coolchile.co.uk/categories/view/chillies). I followed the method closely I thought - though I toasted the chiles longer than you advised, a couple of minutes (but definitely didn't burn them - just turned a shade darker. I don't have a gas hob but an electric one so things take longer to roast / toast usually). The other substitution was canned plum tomatoes as I didn't have puree to hand. All else was the same, but the result was a bit bitter, not sweet / tangy / rounded enough - and altogether was just wrong. To be fair I have never eaten enchiladas in a proper Mexican place (usually a burrito or salad) - but even so this felt not right - am sure was not doing something that I should have? any guidance would be great as I still have chiles lying around and don't mean to give up (and feel like if i got it right we'd love it!!). Thanks a mill and sorry to hijack your comments space with something not related to this post!!! - Aarti.

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    1. Aarti- some suggestions: Add more tomatoes, salt, sugar to round out the taste. It may just be that the proportion was chiles was higher than needed. Did you taste the sauce only straight up or did you use it in a dish? This sauce is designed to be part of the dish and sometimes what tastes bitter on its own is wonderful when paired with all the other ingredients. Also, the sauce mellows out a day after it is made.

      Please- if you would- leave comments on the relevant post, I'll still answer your query, I promise, but it is helpful for others who may have the same question. Or e-mail me. Thanks!

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  16. I had Chinese dumplings for lunch today, and that made me remember this post. I'm inspired to try making them this weekend. I like to make something fun on Saturday night, and it is just too hot for pizza. I've also used the pre-made wrappers to make sort of Eastern European mushroom dumplings to serve with soup.--Anne

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