I really, really like potstickers. They’re an ideal way to consume Thai sweet chili sauce. They’re bite-size packets of juicy, savory flavor. They’re quick for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
What I don’t like are production potstickers. There’s something added to most commercial varieties that just sets my intestinal flora on edge, and edgy flora are not something I appreciate a great deal. And besides, production potstickers are really expensive. Cheaper than getting takeout potstickers, sure, but still more expensive than making them at home.
Here’s the run-down:
- 1 pound plain ground pork (about $2.50 to $3.00; this run, I got 1.3 pounds for $2.83)
- 2 cups fine-shredded cabbage (I found a small head. It was 54c, and I used half. So, 27c total. The other half is going into coleslaw tomorrow.)
- 1 nice carrot (at 48c a pound, bulk, this works out to about 10c of carrot)
- 1-2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger (18c for a knob of ginger, of which I used half, so 9 whole pennies’ worth. You could also use the grated ginger that’s already jarred in the Asian section, which runs a bit more.)
- 1-2 green onions (maybe 10c)
- 1 tsp fresh smashed garlic (ditto with the ginger)
- 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce (which is a kitchen staple at our house, so no new expense there.)
- 1-2 tablespoons sesame oil (ditto)
- 120 noodle wrappers (square or round) from the refrigerated Asian section in produce (about $2.30 per 60-ct package here.)
So, quick bit of math: you can make about 120 (Ten Dozen) potstickers at home for $7 total. If you’re using a coupon and buying them frozen, you’ll spend $4 on 24 potstickers. If you’re buying them at a restaurant, you’ll be paying $4 or more for about 4-6 potstickers. Making them at home? Really good monetary return. Tasty, tasty frugality.
Slice the carrot, then whirl it to fine bits along with the cabbage, grated ginger, green onions, and smashed/chopped garlic. The finer the veggies, the better the finished texture of the potsticker.
Moosh the whirled veg with the ground pork, soy sauce, and oil. Don’t be delicate; dig in with two hands and really goosh it up. You want to smell each ingredient fairly strongly; don’t be afraid to add a dash more soy or oil.
When forming potstickers, you’ll want to have a cornstarch-sprinkled baking sheet (or three), a damp cloth, and a small bowl of water. It really works best to do them one at a time, but put on some good music, and just get into a groove.
You’ll use a finger dipped in the water to wet the edge of one wrapper:
Then add between 1/2 and 3/4 of a teaspoon of filling, right in the middle. I use less filling than many do, because I like more one-bite dumplings.
Cup the wrapper kind of like a taco (in a U shape), and start pinching and pleating one curved edge to the edge you’re keeping flat. I pleat the edge closest to me, pushing the pleats toward my left hand, where I squash ‘em flat.
Click the pic to embiggen if you really, really need a close-up of my poor, battered hands.
Traditional potstickers have a neatly folded/pleated edge, making a plump half-moon. I want them to sit up on their fat little bottoms in the pan, with the pinched-together part standing tall, so I can fit more in and steam them efficiently. Make sure the edges you’re pinching together are damp, as that creates a seal for the dumpling. The meat and veg cook by steaming, so that seal is very important. It made a whole lot more sense to me after watching this video made by some lovely friends while they were living in China:
I don’t do the center pinch, pleat to the middle… I just pleat ‘em all to the left. It works. It’s pretty fast. That’s nice.
Once they’re formed, you can cook them immediately, refrigerate for a few hours and cook them later, or put them cheek-by-jowl on a cookie sheet, freeze them, and bag them for later use.
To cook them, heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Drizzle in about 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and swirl it around to coat the pan a bit. Then, arrange circles of dumplings, pinched seals upwards. You can crowd them in a bit, but try to keep them from touching very much at all, so you get separate dumplings. They will start to sizzle on the bottoms. This is a good thing.
When you have them all in the pan, let them sit for about 45 seconds or so… just long enough to get a little crisp on the bottom. While they’re sizzling, turn on the tap for about 1/2 cup of hot water. Pour the water into the edge of the pan, and clap a lid on the whole works.
Let the potstickers steam, covered, for 3-7 minutes, or until the water has mostly been absorbed. Open the lid, sprinkle in a gludge of soy sauce, and clap the lid on again. Give the pan a good shake to start dislodging the potstickers (because you don’t want them to stick forever.) Decant them onto a plate, and devour. I like mine particularly well when dunked in Thai sweet chili sauce.
If you want, you can also drop them into egg-drop (egg flower) soup, or hot-sour soup to simmer and cook through. Or, pan fry/steam them, then drop them into soup. There is just really no way to mess that up.
I hear that they’ll keep in the freezer for six months or so, but I cannot confirm that, because my minions? They are gyoza-snorfing fiends. I have no idea where they got that.