Potstickers: A universal food

24th August, 2009 - Posted by admin - Comments Off

Vegetable potstickers with dipping sauce.

Food is the universal language. Sharing a meal is the oldest form of hospitality there is. I suspect because we all come into the world looking for our first meal, it’s a feeling everyone can relate to.

Study world cuisine long enough and eventually the similarities start to become more obvious than the differences. There is a finite number of ingredients out there, yet infinite ways to combine them. Start thinking about the all the different ways to cook a chicken to see what I mean.

Every cuisine in the world also has a variation on what I like to call “bread with stuff in it”. South America is home to the empanada, Russia has the classic periogi, and the United Kingdom has given us the pasty.

On the Asian side of the world, we have potstickers: dumplings filled with whatever sounds good then both steamed and fried – although not in that order.

Potstickers are easy to make and freeze really well. Since making enough for just one meal is a pain, I recommend doubling the recipe and freezing the extras. They can be cooked without thawing and the filling can be endlessly customized to any taste.

Potsticker wrappers can be found in the produce section of the grocery store near the tofu. Look for the round ones – not square.

The key to making the filling is to get the ingredients as small as possible. This is a good job for a food processor. The recipe below is for vegetarian potstickers, but an equal amount of any meat would work as well. I used a potato ricer to mash the tofu, but it could also be easily crumbled with your fingers. Just remember that the dumplings will only hold about one heaping tablespoon of filling, so don’t overstuff them.

Once the filling is in place, use a pastry brush or your finger dipped in water to moisten the edge of the wrapper, then press them together. To create the pretty crimped edge you see in Chinese restaurant, find a potsticker press. They can be bought locally for less than $5. Normally I don’t recommend buying a tool that only does one job, but this does its one job very well.

At this point, the dumplings can be frozen in a single layer, then transfered to an airtight container or cooked in a hot wok or skillet with a lid. The lid is important to the steaming process.

Vegetarian Potstickers

1/2 pound firm tofu
1/2 cup finely shredded carrot
1/2 cup finely chopped bok choy
1/4 cup finely chopped water chestnuts
1/4 cup finely chopped bamboo shoots
1/4 cup finely chopped garlic chives
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package potsticker or gyoza wrappers

Preparation:
Drain the tofu, cut into cubes and mash. Wash and prepare the vegetables. Combine the tofu with the remainder of the ingredients and seasonings.

Lay out one of the gyoza wrappers in front of you. Dip your finger or a pastry brush in the water and moisten the edges of the wrapper.

Place a heaping teaspoon of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Fold the gyoza wrapper over the filling and pinch the edges to seal it shut. (You may want to use a cornstarch/water mixture to make this easier).

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet or wok. When oil is ready, carefully add the dumplings and cook on high heat until golden brown (about 1 minute). Without turning the dumplings over, add 1/2 cup of water and cover. Cook for about 1 minute to cook the raw filling and then uncover and continue cooking until most of the liquid is absorbed.

Serve the potstickers with the browned side on top and soy sauce mixed with minced ginger for dipping.

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Posted on: August 24, 2009

Filed under: Sides, Vegetarian

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