Every family has that cookbook that is so loved that it is stained, burned and falling apart. For my family, that cookbook is Madame Wong’s Long Life Chinese Cookbook (the book that came with a wok my Dad got in the 80’s), the spine is completely useless and the back cover bears the circular burns of an electric range coil. Although all the recipes are great, our favorite, hands down, is the pork and shrimp pot-sticker recipe; my Mom and I were known to fight over who got more, snapping at each other with our chopsticks.
I think the thing that makes pot-stickers so delicious is that they are a labor of love, my Dad would spend the whole afternoon making the dough and carefully steaming and frying the perfect little dumplings, and as I got older I would learn to help roll the dough and fold the pot-stickers into little pouches of love. Hours of work, all joyfully demolished in minutes.
Since you guys are capable of looking up my family’s pot sticker recipe in Madame Wong’s cookbook, I’m going to share a recipe that I learned when I was a personal chef for a Chinese-American family that their grandmother showed me. These awesome pot-stickers are a great way to celebrate a holiday (like Chinese New Year!!!) and show your family and friends some love without breaking the bank.
Pot Stickers (Chow-Tse) –served with white rice and sauteed Napa cabbage
Makes 30 pot- stickers – serves 10 as an appetizer or serves 3 as a main course
Cost approx $ per batch – $.20 per serving as an appetizer or $1.15 per serving as a main course, including sides.
- 1/3 lb ground pork ($.72)
- 1 egg ($.12)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped green chives – this is a specialty item you may have to go to an Asian market for. I think the flavor is what makes it taste unique and authentic. If you can’t find them, you can use green onions, the flavor will be different but still quite tasty. ($.36)
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder
- 1 Tbs sesame oil
- 2 Tbs soy sauce
- 1/2 package circular pot sticker wrappers ($.60)
- Soy sauce and/or Chinese vinegar and/or Asian hot sauce – for dipping
Begin by making the filling: combine the pork, egg, green chives, ginger powder, sesame oil and soy sauce. Mix well. You don’t need to season with salt, as the soy sauce has a salty flavor and the dipping sauces are salty too.
Put on a large pot of water to boil and set up your dumpling making station. You need a spot for your finished dumplings to sit, I like a plate or platter with a kitchen towel over it, to ensure that your beautiful dumplings won’t stick. You also need a small cup of water to use as your pot-sticker wrapper glue.
Now for the hard part, assembling the dumplings. If you want to make cute little dumplings with one pleated side and one smooth side, use the pictures and instructions below, if not, there’s an easier set of instructions below as well
#1 Place a scant teaspoon of filling in wrapper and use your finger to paint the edge half of the way around with water. #2 Pinch once in the middle. #3 Starting with one side, fold half way in and pinch the back side down firmly, making one pleat (the most outward/lateral pleat). #4 Pinch half of the remaining dough inward to make one more pleat (the middle pleat). #5 Pinch the remaining dough down, making one more pleat (the most inward/medial pleat). #6 Repeat with the other side, making six pleats total on one side, the other side being completely smooth. Give one overall firm pinch across both sides to seal up the dumplings.
Don’t worry, you’ll get faster with more practice. It’s kinda like riding a bike; after doing hundreds of these I’ve gotten a lot better than when I started!
[*Easy Version* Place about a scant teaspoon of filling in the center of your wrapper. Use your finger to paint a line of water along half of the edge of the wrapper, a half circle. Just make half circles and firmly close the dumplings.]
Now that your beautiful pot-stickers are assembled, it’s time to cook them in the boiling pot of water. The goal is to gently poach them until the meat and egg in the filling are all the way cooked through. So, see that your pot of water is at a gentle boil over high heat. Get about 1-2 cups of cold water and set to the side of your boiling pot. Get a slotted spoon or spider-style strainer at the ready as well.
Add in about a dozen dumplings to the boiling water. You don’t want to crowd the pot or stack any of the dumplings. How many dumplings fit will be based on the size of your pot. The water’s temperature will drop after you add the cold dumplings in, stopping the boiling, because the burner is still on high the pot will come back to a gentle boil in a few minutes. When the bubbles start to break the surface, add in about a half a cup of cold water to stop the boiling and gently stir the dumplings so make sure they aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. Repeat this process of waiting for it to boil again then adding cold water two more times. At this time, all the dumplings should be fully cooked. Remove them with a slotted spoon and place on a plate or platter, making sure they’re not touching or they will stick to each other.
At this point, your dumplings are cooked and ready to devour, but if you want to gild the lily, heat up a non stick pan, add a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil and fry until golden on all sides. Serve with soy sauce, Asian style hot sauce and Chinese vinegar to mix and match for dipping sauces. Yum!