Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pot Stickers

 chicken and vegetable pot stickers

There are variations on what we westerners call "pot stickers," but the one I know best is the Chinese Jiǎozi, which you can find at any swank or dive Chinese restaurant in the U.S. I love this dish, and I now love making it.

Read more about pot stickers here: Jiǎozi

The basics: ground meat, vegetables and seasoning wrapped in a thin dough, then fried or steamed. So, dumplings. I ignored the "ground" part and managed to make some excellent pot stickers.

1 lb chicken
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, shredded or grated
2 cups chopped cabbage (green or red)
2 tsp grated ginger
2 cloves garlic, pressed or diced small
1Tbs seseame chili oil
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup cooking oil (I used canola)
1 egg, beaten
1 package wonton wrappers (You can use spring roll wrappers, cut in fourths)
sauce: equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar

This makes 30+ pot stickers, and while it's not a quick dish, it's easy enough and lots of fun. Your first few dumplings may be a little sloppy (depending on your fine motor skills) but you'll get the hang of it and they'll get more consistent. Most importantly, they'll taste great.

Make the filling:
1. Marinate small, skinless, boneless chicken pieces (I used breast tenders) for an hour in wine, oils, garlic, ginger, yellow onion and a little salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, chop cabbage, green onion, shred/grate carrot and mix it together in a bowl.
3. Cook chicken in marinade on top of the stove in a skillet with a lid. I turn up the heat to get it bubbling, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, turning once or twice. Essentially, the chicken will be stewed so you can break it apart easily with a fork and knife after cooking.
4. After cooking, put chicken and juice in a large bowl and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
5. Add chopped veggies to the chicken and stir, coating everything with the juice.
6. Cover and refrigerate.

Build the dumplings: (note: this step is best done to music, preferably with a friend)
1. Beat an egg in a small dish.
2. Put wrappers on one dinner plate and have another one handy for the finished (wrapped) dumplings.
3. Place a spoonful of filling in the center of the wrapper, diagonally.
4. Take your fingertips and apply egg along all four edges of the wrapper.
5. Fold the wrapper diagonally over the filling, making a triangle, and pinch the edges shut. If you have excess dough, you can fold the triangle point on itself, making it more compact.
6. Do it again 35 times.

Cook the dumplings:
You can boil, steam or deep-fry these. I chose to steam them because they end up a little crispy without being drenched in oil. To my shame, I used a non-stick skillet for fear of tearing the dumplings, and I winged it. Here's the method I used:
Add equal parts canola oil and water to skillet (about 2 Tbs each per 5-6 dumplings), heat to med-high, then place dumplings in and cover. Let steam for a minute, flip, steam another minute, and then remove lid and finish browning as water evaporates. Remove to plate, add a little more water and oil, and repeat.

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