Daring Cooks – 2nd Challenge: Chinese dumplings/potstickers

Pan-fired chinese dumplings

The second Daring Cooks challenge continued with bite-sized wonders in the form of potstickers/chinese dumplings. Our hostess with the mostess this month was Jen from use real butter. Living next to Vancouver’s Chinatown, these dumplings are a familiar sight in small chinese bakeries and restaurants in my neighborhood. I can buy them fresh at Superstore, or  frozen in pretty much every supermarket. It’s almost a staple in this town. Hon‘s is renowned for theirs, and Fujiya also makes very nice gyozas (the japanese version) for take-out. Either, often a treat after a long day’s work.

We had made various chinese dumplings in cooking school, so this was not a first for me. But, it was a timely reminder of how easy they are to make at home.  The challenge was simple enough: Choose a filling, choose a dough and choose a cooking method.

I chose the following combination:

dough:
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (113g) warm water
flour for work surface

Steamed dumplingsIn a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch. Weighing  ingredients is highly recommended for this recipe.

Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking – about 1/16th inch. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side (see images in post for how to fold pleats). Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.

pork filling:
1 lb (450g) ground pork
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
3 stalks green onions, minced
7 shitake mushrooms, minced (if dried – rehydrated and rinsed carefully)
1/2 cup (75g) bamboo shoots, minced
1/4 (55g) cup ginger root, minced
3 tbsp (40g) soy sauce
2 tbsp (28g) sesame oil
2 tbsp (16g) corn starch

Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (up to a day, but preferably within an hour or two).

and,

dipping sauce:
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
a few drops of sesame oil
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)
sugar (optional)

Prep was typical of many asian dishes, i.e. long with many ingredients involved. Got reacquainted with my chef’s knife (and the importance of keeping it sharpened). But the results were well worth it. The pork filling was just delicious. I had a lot left, which I froze for future dumplings. I steamed some potstickers and pan fried some. I preferred the pan-fried ones, done in a little bit of chili oil. I did not actually boil them either, which gave them a nice hot crunch. The sauce was a great addition as well. My asian pantry is now getting well-stocked, and I’ll be making these savoury nuggets again before long. Great challenge!

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