I remember first tasting Chinese dumplings and potstickers when I lived in Saipan, and I always liked ordering them in restaurants, but then I visited Hong Kong and southern China and got hooked. It was so fun to see the dim sum trays in the restaurants, taste different things, and try to figure out what was in all the fillings. Though I have enjoyed Chinese potstickers and dumplings all these years, I’ve never made them from scratch—getting bags of gyoza from Trader Joe’s is just too easy—so I felt a huge amount of excitement when I saw Jen of Use Real Butter had challenged the Daring Cooks to make her family’s recipe for Chinese dumplings and potstickers.
The challenge had quite a bit of flexibility. The only requirement was that we had to make our own dough, but we could choose to mix the dough by hand or with a food processor, we could chose our own fillings and how we wanted to cook the dumplings. The filling was very easy, just took a lot of chopping. Rolling the dough just right proved to be a bit of a challenge as mine stuck to the counter and the pin no matter how much flour I threw at it. I’d get a circle rolled out then would have to peel it off the counter, turning it into a misshapen pile of dough, so that took me a while. Plus I don’t have the best fine motor skills, so shaping perfect pleats in the dumplings was a challenge, but all my dumplings held together and none broke apart, so I counted that as a success. I pan fried the potstickers in a small amount of oil because I like the crispy bottoms.
Though my oldest son and husband really enjoy potstickers, my other two boys don’t, so I used half the filling to make potstickers and then stir-fried the rest and used it to make lettuce wraps for the other boys. The potstickers were a hit and only a couple were left after dinner. We really liked the pork filling and will use it again for potstickers and lettuce wraps, though I look forward to trying the shrimp filling, too.
Chinese Dumplings and Potstickers
- 1 (4 to 5-quart) mixing bowl
- 1 (3 quart) mixing bowl (or food processor)
- rolling pin (dowel type, not tapered)
- plate or pan covered with flour
- damp tea towel
- large fry pan (or wok with steamer insert)
- small bowl
- 1 pound ground pork
- 4 large napa cabbage leaves (minced)
- 3 green onions (minced)
- 7 shitake mushrooms (minced (if dried, rehydrate and rinse carefully))
- ½ cup bamboo shoots (minced)
- ¼ cup ginger root (minced)
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup warm water
- flour for work surface
- 2 parts soy sauce
- 1 part red wine vinegar (or black vinegar)
- a few drops of sesame oil
- chili garlic paste (optional)
- minced ginger (optional)
- minced garlic (optional)
- minced green onion (optional)
- sugar (optional)
- Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use, up to a day but preferably within an hour or two.
- In the medium bowl mix flour with ¼ 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. (Food Processor Method: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.) Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water.
- Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes.
SHAPE THE DUMPLINGS
- Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1-½ to 2 inches (4 to 5 cm) wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into ¾ inch (2 cm) 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, about 1/16th inch (2 to 3 mm). Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking. 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 Jen’s post for how to fold pleats). Place the shaped dumplings on the floured plate. Keep all unused dough under damp cloth.
COOK (CHOOSE ANY OF THE FOLLOWING METHODS)
- BOIL: Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add dumplings to pot. Boil the dumplings until they float.
- STEAM: Place dumplings on a single layer of napa cabbage leaves or on a well-greased surface in a steamer basket with lid. Steam covered for about 6 minutes.
- PAN FRY (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add ½ cup (120 ml) water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve.
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, amounts of optional ingredients to taste.
More Daring Challenges
You can see all of my Daring Challenges in the the Daring Challenges list.