Who doesn’t love dumplings? Whether they’re Japanese gyoza, Italian ravioli, or Chinese pot stickers, they’re a crowd pleaser. They can be served as appetizers, as snacks, and – true to Filipino culture – as ulam with rice. They’re relatively easy to make, given that the fillings are customizable, as with the dips and sauces to serve them with.
This week, I’m focusing on pot stickers. Typically, they consist of a ground meat (pork, mutton, beef, chicken, fish, or shrimp) and/or vegetable (cabbage, spring onions, leek, or garlic chives) filling, encased in a thin dough wrapper. Ready-made wrappers are always available in the supermarket, but if you want to make everything from scratch, the dough is basically flour and hot water. The pot stickers can either be boiled, steamed, pan-fried (or dry-fried). Dipping sauces may include vinegar, garlic, ginger, rice wine, hot sauce, and sesame oil. (Or a combination of; my personal preference is vinegar and soy sauce – a rough ratio of 2:1 – and chili sesame oil.)
I think these are going to be good toddler food as it’s bite-size and crispy. It’s also a good way for my daughter to unknowingly eat vegetables – my last batch of gyoza, for example, had cabbage and carrots in them. There’s also a recipe for squash pot stickers, removing meat entirely and replacing it with mashed butternut squash. Finally, they freeze well. I’ve learned the hard way to freeze them in a tray first, then once each piece is frozen, you can dump them in a bag; do not attempt to freeze them piled on on top of the other, unless you want to pan-fry a blob of dumplings stuck to each other.
As I was writing this entry, I really got a craving for pot stickers; but I didn’t have the complete ingredients. Luckily for me, my husband likes to stock up on frozen dumplings (siomai, wonton, shark’s fin, etc.). Out of desperation, I defrosted a few wonton dumplings, fried them in a little oil, then – when one side was cooked to crispy perfection – added water to the pan and covered it to give it a steam bath. It was so good, I tell you. That or I was just really desperate and/or really hungry.
Recipes: most are from marthastewart.com, which has four different pot sticker recipes.