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Cooking with Kelly This Week: Potsticker Perfection

By KELLY HOUSEN, The News Journal
January 10, 2007

Spark Weekly

After my latest cooking adventure, I bounded back into the Spark office with a container filled with tender, delicious potstickers. As I was passing them out and we were chowing down, Matt asked incredulously, "You made these? Dumplings are notoriously hard to make. These are great."

I'm glad I didn't know that making dumplings (also known as potstickers) were hard to make when I decided on them as the next food to conquer. (I like to go into these confident that I can make whatever it is the chefs make.) I couldn't think of anyone better than Li Shih, the chef and owner of Potstickers restaurant, to accompany me on my journey to make the perfect potsticker.

A brief history of the dumpling: In northern China, north of Beijing, the major crop isn't rice, it's wheat. That makes the dumpling one of the most popular dishes in northern China. On Chinese New Year, it's traditional to hide a gold coin or a date in the dumpling, and whoever gets that dumpling gets good luck for the year

But before I could start putting gold coins in my dumplings, I had to learn how to make them. Li told me the most important part of the potsticker is the dough -- two parts flour to one part warm water, with a dash of salt for good measure. Mix the dough, then let it sit overnight, an important step which will give you a more tender dough.

Li had dough that had rested overnight, so we grabbed a ping-pong-ball-sized piece of dough, floured our boards and rolled it out until it was about an eighth of an inch thick on the outside and a little bit thicker in the middle. Then we put a teaspoon full of the filling in the center, and closed the dumpling. Li and the rest of the staff tried to teach me the complicated folding method they use to seal the potstickers, but I failed miserably at the folding. (It wasn't for lack of trying either.)

We don't have to know how to fold them to seal the potstickers. Just wet your finger, rub it around the edge of the dough, fold the dough in half and press. They taste just as good that way, even if they're not as pretty.

Tips
  • Keep scrolling down for the bonus recipe for the potsticker dipping sauce. Believe me, you want that recipe.
  • If you want healthy dumplings, steam them. They're still delicious, but I like the crunch of the pan-fried dumplings.
  • Chef and owner Li Shih insists that it's the dough that makes the potstickers so good, but you can buy premade wonton wrappers. Li advises against it, but I'm just telling you.
CHEF AND OWNER LI SHIH

Li owns Potstickers with his wife Elizabeth. He's traveled all over the world learning about food, but to learn to make the perfect potsticker he worked in a dumpling house in Shanghai.

INGREDIENTS
Pork filling
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • ¾ cup napa cabbage, chopped into small pieces
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped green onions
  • 4 Tbsp. water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. white pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped ginger
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. rice wine
  • 1 Tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. corn starch
Veggie filling
  • 1 lb. bok choy
  • 4 Tbsp. shiitake mushrooms, diced
  • 4 Tbsp. carrots, diced
  • 4 Tbsp. firm tofu, diced
  • 4 Tbsp. chopped green onions
  • 2 oz. vermicelli noodles
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. white pepper
DIRECTIONS

Combine all the ingredients, and mix well. Put a teaspoon-full into the prepared wrapper and steam or pan fry for about 12 minutes.

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