THE RIGHT WRAPPER MAKES CRISPY, CHEWY DUMPLINGS A SNAP
Some restaurant dishes are best left to professional kitchens. Anything that requires a great exhaust system falls into this category, as do multicomponent desserts. Other restaurant dishes might seem daunting for the home cook, but that’s only because you have never seen the dish made. Potstickers are a perfect example of this second group.
Unlike other similar dishes (think ravioli or pierogi), you don’t need to roll out the pasta. Asian dumpling wrappers are available in pretty much every American supermarket and they work beautifully. And the best fillings are simple combinations of raw ingredients. Yes, stuffing and sealing the wrappers takes some patience, but with just 20 minutes of work you can ready 24 dumplings for cooking.
The ideal potsticker is both crispy and chewy thanks to a unique cooking method. The filled dumplings are sautéed so that the part of the wrapper in contact with the hot pan becomes crisp. Next, water is added and the pan is covered to steam the rest of the wrapper to tenderness. The final step is to remove the lid, cook off any remaining water, and recrisp the bottom.
Potstickers can be shaped in various ways but we think half-moons are easiest to execute. As with all filled pasta, the seam is the trickiest part to cook right because it has two layers of dough. When the seam is on top of the dumpling, it takes a long time to soften. With two flat sides (rather than a wide flat bottom), a half moon ensures that the seam is closer to the pan so it cooks more quickly. The end result is a potsticker that is tender, crispy, and chewy, all in the same delicious bite.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
Choose the Right Wrap
Two ready-made versions are widely available in supermarkets: wonton and gyoza wrappers. Wonton wrappers can be used but they are on the thin side. Gyoza-style wrappers are a better choice. Made without egg, they are sturdier and hold up better when pan-fried. Their substantial texture is also a better match for the flavorful filling.
Create a Potent, Juicy Filling
Cooked potsticker fillings will dry out in the dumpling wrappers. Instead we start fresh: We spike ground pork with ginger, garlic, scallions, and soy sauce. And we add cabbage (salted and drained first) for textural contrast and flavor.
Steal a Meatloaf Trick
To lighten the texture of the filling even further, we follow the lead of meatloaf cookery and add a lightly beaten egg to the pork and cabbage mixture.
Fold, Pinch, Flatten
After spooning the filling (be sure to measure it) onto the wrapper, moisten the edges with water and fold the wrapper over, pinching the edges closed to press out any air pockets. This is a critical step because air pockets can cause the potstickers to balloon during steaming, causing the wrapper to pull away from the meat and making for a messy first bite. Likewise, be sure to place the sealed potstickers on the counter to flatten the bottoms so that they can make full contact with the skillet for optimal browning and tender edges.
Start Cold, Finish Hot
For evenly cooked dumplings, oil a nonstick skillet, add the dumplings flat side down for maximum browning and tender edges, and then turn on the heat. Once they’re browned, add water to the skillet, cover, and steam before removing the cover to let the water cook off for potstickers that are crispy, chewy, and tender.
An uncooked filling and three-step cooking method yield perfect potstickers.
Pork and Cabbage Potstickers
MAKES 24 DUMPLINGS
- 25 minutes to slice and salt cabbage (prep all other ingredients while cabbage is draining)
- 30 minutes to make and chill filling (prepare dipping sauce while filling chills)
- 15 minutes to assemble dumplings
- 40 minutes to cook dumplings in two batches
- Colander or fine-mesh strainer for draining cabbage
- 12-inch nonstick skillet with lid
Substitutions & Variations
- We prefer the slightly chewier texture of gyoza-style wrappers to thinner wonton wrappers. However, wonton wrappers will work if you reduce the steaming time to about 6 minutes.
- To make shrimp dumplings, substitute 12 ounces peeled, deveined shrimp (any size), tails removed, pulsed 10 times in food processor, for pork.
- Uncooked dumplings can be placed on plate, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerated for up to 24 hours, or frozen for up to 1 month. Once frozen, dumplings can be transferred to zipper-lock bag; do not thaw before cooking.
- To make Scallion Dipping Sauce, combine ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons mirin, 2 tablespoons water, 1 teaspoon chili oil (optional), ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil, and 1 minced scallion in bowl. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
These dumplings are best served hot; we recommend serving the first batch immediately and then cooking the second batch. Serve with Scallion Dipping Sauce, if desired.
- ½ head napa cabbage, cored and chopped fine (6 cups)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 12 ounces ground pork
- 4 scallions, minced
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- 24 round gyoza wrappers
- 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 cup water, plus extra for brushing
- For the Filling : Toss cabbage with salt in colander set over bowl and let stand until cabbage begins to wilt, about 20 minutes. Press cabbage gently with rubber spatula to squeeze out any excess moisture, then transfer to medium bowl. Add pork, scallions, egg, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, and pepper and mix thoroughly to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- For the Dumplings : Working with 4 wrappers at a time (keep remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap), place wrappers flat on counter. Spoon 1 slightly rounded tablespoon filling in center of each wrapper. Using pastry brush or your fingertip, moisten edge of wrapper with water. Fold each wrapper in half; starting in center and working toward outside edges, pinch edges together firmly to seal, pressing out any air pockets. Position each dumpling on its side and gently flatten, pressing down on seam to make sure it lies flat against counter. Transfer dumplings to baking sheet and repeat with remaining wrappers and filling.
- Line large plate with double layer of paper towels. Brush 2 teaspoons oil over bottom of 12-inch nonstick skillet and arrange half of dumplings in skillet, flat side down (overlapping just slightly if necessary). Place skillet over medium-high heat and cook dumplings, without moving them, until golden brown on bottom, about 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low, add ½ cup water, and cover immediately. Continue to cook, covered, until most of water is absorbed and wrappers are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. Uncover skillet, increase heat to medium-high, and continue to cook, without stirring, until dumpling bottoms are well browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes more. Slide dumplings onto paper towel–lined plate, browned side facing down, and let drain briefly. Transfer dumplings to serving platter and serve. Let skillet cool until just warm, then wipe out with paper towels and repeat from step 3 with remaining oil, dumplings, and water.
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