Introduction: Chinese Potstickers/Dumplings

About: Like to solve everyday life little problems. I'm curious about things I don't know much. Like to do things that require and allow creativity.

You will be hard pressed if you try to find one person in China who doesn't eat or doesn't like to eat dumplings. It's also true to my experience that Chinese families don't make dumplings at home daily, not even weekly or monthly, but yearly, usually on the Chinese Lunar New Year Eve. Why? Making dumpling from scratch is at least half day, team work and whole family affair.

After I came to the United States, I hadn't made dumpling once for many years. When my sisters came from overseas to visit me once, we made dumplings, which also awakened my longing for eating it more often. Also my child (only one at that time) liked it so much. So I tried to make dumplings more often, every time after wrapping only a few of them, I lost patience and my family became hungry waiting, I would roll out the dough to four large pieces and made huge potstickers, one for each member of the family. They tasted great. You can see from pictures 4, 5 and 6 in this introduction, they are pies not dumplings. I still needed to find a practical way to make real dumpling.

Dumpling(jiao zi) in Chinese usually means shui jiao(boiled dumpling). There are also steamed dumpling(zheng jiao) and potsticker(guo tie). In the old time, Chinese families didn't have good flat bottom non-stick cookware to make potstickers. They had no other choice but to boil the dumplings. Over time, they became to like boiled dumplings and became good at boiling dumplings which is also the hardest among the three cooking methods. Steamed dumpling(zheng jiao) is popular but second to shui jiao in China. Potsticker is the least popular, some think it's hard to make potsticker, some think it makes a person "shang huo"(a common concept in the culture very hard to explain in English), others think potstickers aren't cooked through. I, on the contrary, am crazy about potstickers. I love any food that has charred crispy crust. I found cooking potsticker is the easiest among the three methods and it doesn't require super good seal of each dumpling and it's guaranteed cooked through every single time.

Making dumpling involves three major processes: making wrappers, filling and wrapping dumplings. Commercial and many restaurant dumplings are made by machines. After doing some research on how and what the frozen wrapper from store is made of, I decided there is no significant difference in health value between frozen wrapper and homemade fresh wrapper. By using ground meat from store and food processor to chop vegetables, now I can make dumplings/potstickers on weekly basis or on one of the weekend days. If you are like me, having a picky eater at home, dumpling is the best solution for them. With all the vegetables, meat, oils, spices and seasonings in the filling, I feel I can have a good night's sleep after seeing with my own eyes my picky eater eat several of it. After eating a dozen or so of dumplings myself, I neither feel overfull nor want to eat more or anything else. It's the most comforting food to me.

In this Instructable, I show step by step how to make Chinese potstickers at home, including how to make Chinese chili oil and dumpling dipping sauce. Hope you will give it a try as well.

Ingredients and Things Used:

1 Pound ground meat(used turkey), 15-20% fat

1 Medium Chinese cabbage

2 14-ounce package of frozen dumpling wrappers

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tsp sesame oil

2 Tbsp less sodium soy sauce

1 Tbsp shaoxing cooking wine

4 Green onions, finely chopped

1 Tbsp ginger root, finely grated

1 Tsp finely chopped garlic

1/2 Tsp Chinese five spice

Several grounds of black pepper

1/2 Tsp Chicago steak seasoning (optional)

1/4 Tsp paprika (optional)

1/2 Tsp roasted garlic (optional)

1 Tbsp coconut oil

1 Lemon/ginger/garlic zester

Food processor

Rectangular 15" by 12" non stick electric skillet with glass lid

Eurocast professional cookware 11" pan

A piece of muslin fabric

This recipe makes 90 potstickers.

To make the chili oil, and dipping sauce:

1/3 cup peanut or almond

1 zip lock bag

Rolling pin

1/3 cup Chinese chili powder

2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 tsp sichuan peppercorn powder

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 cup peanut oil

3 large garlic cloves, ground to paste.

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Below are the steps.

Note: This article may contain affiliate links as references for the same or similar products used in this project. If you click on the links and make purchases I could receive a small percentage of commission from the advertising company with no extra cost to you.

Step 1: Thaw the Wrapper

First of all, take the wrapper out of the freezer.

Place it in a deep bowl or zip lock bag and immerse in warm water.

Step 2: Prepare Chinese Cabbage

Wash the cabbage

Separate the soft edges from the crunchy part

Cut them to smaller pieces

Process them in food processor to even finer

Add generous salt, stir and set aside for use at the end of next step

Step 3: Make Filling

Add all seasoning and spices to the meat and mix well.

Squeeze out water from the cabbage made in previous step.

Add the squeezed cabbage and mix well.

If the filling is dry, consider adding 1 tbsp of water at a time until it is soft.

P.S. In the video and photos, I was making a batch for 10 servings. Don't be confused by the sight of the volume of the meat, whenever in doubt, use text as the right proportion for seasonings and spices. Everything in this recipe in text is given for a batch for 5 servings.

Step 4: Wrap Dumplings

Place the coconut oil in the pan, plug it in and melt the oil and brush it to coat the bottom of the pan. Then unplug the pan.

Have a small bowl of warm water for wetting the edges of the wrappers.

Open the wrapper package.

Wet the edge of one wrapper using finger tip, then place about 1 tbsp of the filling and wrap the dumpling.

There are several ways to wrap the dumpling. In the video I'm doing what we call wheat ears. If you are interested in more ways of doing it, you can search online or follow me as I will upload more videos on making dumplings. This is also when my children come to help as they can wet the edges of the wrappers. For fresh wrappers, wetting the edge isn't necessary. And children can learn to wrap dumplings too as fresh wrappers are much more learner friendly.

Step 5: Cook the Dumplings

Cover the pan with the lid.

Plug it in and set at medium heating.

Once the light sizzling sound stops, add 1/2 cup water to the pan and cover it again.

Cook until the water is all dried and the bottom of dumplings are charred golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Step 6: Make Chili Oil and Dipping Sauce

Without plate licking good dipping sauce, Chinese dumplings are never complete or comforting meal.

To make the chili oil, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Roast 1/3 cup peanut or almond at the temperature for 5 minutes or until golden.

Let it cool.

Place it in a zip lock bag.

Crush it to fine powder.

Place it at the bottom of a medium bowl.

Add 1/3 cup chili powder on top. At home, my mom always use the Chinese hot chili powder which she grew in the garden. I used 1 tbsp each of kimchi chili, pizza chili, paprika, chipotle, cayenne, aleppo, and ancho.

Add 2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds on top.

Add 1 tsp sichuan peppercorn powder on top.

Add 1 tbsp salt to it around the bowl.

Add 1 tbsp sugar to it around the bowl.

Heat 1/2 cup peanut oil to a sauce pan and heat at medium heat.

Once the oil starts to have visible smoke, pour it over the dry chili and spice and stir at the same time to cook them.

To make the garlic paste, chop 3 large garlic cloves to small pieces and use mortar and pestle to ground it to paste. The finer the better and add 1 tbsp of water to it.

To make the dipping sauce, add 1 tsp chili oil made above to a small bowl, 1 tsp garlic paste, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp water, a few drops of olive oil and sesame oil.

This dipping sauce is also good for dipping bread and making pasta or fry noodles.

P.S. If you or your children are not a fan of hot sauce, topping your boiled dumplings with a few drops of olive oil, salt and black pepper is simply great. (shown in last picture in this step)

Step 7: Enjoy!

If you like this Instructable, please vote it for Comfort Food contest.

If you have question, comments or wonder what other fillings you can make, please get in touch with me.

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