Chinese Lunar New Year is upon us again and I can’t wait to head out to watch the parade and firework display that the Chinese Association from the local university put on every year. 2012 is the year of the Dragon which is said to deliver good fortune. With this year bringing our long-awaited and very major kitchen renovation/rebuild we could certainly do with some good fortune. To help with things along I thought it would be a good idea to celebrate by making dumplings which purportedly bring wealth, much like the tradition of eating lentils for New Year in Italy and France.
Potsticker dumplings or guō tiē (鍋貼) have become a firm favourite since I first tried making them last year. Their crimped, half-moon shape creates a large flat surface which you fry in a little oil. As soon as the bottoms are golden you chuck in hot water and clamp on a lid as fast as humanly possible in order to steam the tops. Once the water has all gone you crisp up the base of your dumplings for a minute or two and then they are ready to eat; the steamed tops are soft and chewy, the filling is juicy and the fried bottoms are deliciously crisp.
It’s taken me a little while to get the knack of folding and crimping the dumplings; I’m still not very neat or fast so making a full batch from scratch is something of a labour of love. I sped up the process this week by using pre-made gyoza wrappers (made by the very cute-sounding Happy Belly company) but to be honest, homemade is so much better that it’s totally worth spending a few hours making your own dough and rolling the wrappers out by hand. Jennifer Yu gives a great step-by-step guide and recipe on her blog Use Real Butter; she explains the process so much better than I ever could. What I share here is my filling recipe and a basic guide to making and cooking the dumplings with pre-made wrappers. Next time I make potstickers I’ll go back to homemade dough but I plan to roll out all the dough at once and cut circles rather than rolling out individual wrappers. I’ll be sure to update this post if I find a good method.
Makes 30 dumplings
Adapted from Use Real Butter
- 1 pack gyoza wrappers (made with wheat flour and no egg)
- 3 spring onions
- 3 leaves of Chinese cabbage
- 50g bamboo shoots
- 50g water chestnuts
- 1 clove garlic
- one thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, finely grated
- 250g minced pork
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice wine
- 1tbsp sesame oil
- 1.5 tbsp corn flour
- freshly ground black pepper
Defrost the goyza wrappers and cover with a damp tea towel.
Chop the spring onions, cabbage, bamboo shoots and water chestnuts by hand into very fine pieces. What you want is bits small enough to fit in the dumpling but not too small, a few millimetres is good. A food processor tends to chop too fine so the texture of the filling ends up more like paste.
Crush and mince the garlic and mix with the chopped vegetables and ginger in a large bowl. Add the pork, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, corn flour and pepper and mix well.
Take a wrapper in your hand and place about a tablespoon of the filling in the middle. Wet the edges with a little water and pinch the sides together to make an open-ended roll. Crimp one side of the dumpling folding the edge facing you inwards towards your first pinch. Tuck the end in, pinch closed and turn the dumpling around on your hand.
Now crimp the open end on the same side so that the sealed dumpling is pleated on one side and slightly rounded on the other. Pinch the top together to make sure it’s well sealed. Repeat until all the filling is used up.
Too cook, heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan and place the dumplings flat side down in a circular pattern (as shown in the first picture). Fry for 3–4 minutes over a medium-high heat until the bottoms are golden and crisp.
Very quickly pour in 125ml (half a cup) of hot water over the dumplings and cover with a lid. Once all the water had gone, turn down the heat and cook uncovered for a further 2 minutes.
Turn out onto a plate with the friend bottoms facing up and serve with a dipping sauce of your choosing.