Easy Asian Potstickers

Monday, October 8, 2007

Your vote decided! The recipe you wanted is "Easy Asian Potstickers" - well, Cook's Illustrated called it "Easy" anyway. It's easy once you get the hang of it, but, let me tell you, this recipe is worth any trouble it takes - they're excellent! Also, make sure to use excellent ground pork (the first time I made this, I bought the pork from Whole Foods - A+; the next time I made it, I bought the pork from Smith's - B+).

Makes 24 dumplings, 6 first course servings

We prefer to use gyoza wrappers. You can substitute wonton wrappers, but the cooking time and recipe yield will vary (see the chart below Step 3). Potstickers are best served hot from the skillet; we recommend that you serve the first batch immediately, then cook the second batch. To freeze potstickers, place filled, uncooked dumplings in the freezer in a single layer on a plate until frozen, then transfer to a storage bag. There's no need to thaw frozen potstickers; just proceed with the recipe.

3 cups minced napa cabbage leaves
3/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 pound ground pork
6 tablespoons minced scallions (about 4 medium scallions, white and green parts)
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 medium clove garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
2 egg whites , lightly beaten
24 gyoza wrappers , round, (see note above)
4 teaspoons vegetable oil

1. Toss cabbage and salt in colander or mesh strainer set over medium bowl. Let stand until cabbage begins to wilt, about 20 minutes; press cabbage gently with rubber spatula to squeeze out excess moisture. Combine cabbage and all other filling ingredients in medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until mixture is cold, at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
2. Place 4 wrappers flat on work surface (keep remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap). Place one slightly rounded tablespoon filling in center of each wrapper. Using pastry brush or fingertip, moisten edge of wrapper with water. Fold each wrapper in half; starting in center and working toward outside edges, pinch edges together firmly to seal, pressing out any air pockets. Position each dumpling on its side and gently flatten, pressing down on seam to make sure it lies flat against work surface. Repeat to form 24 dumplings. (Filled dumplings can be refrigerated overnight in single layer on baking sheet wrapped tightly with plastic wrap.)
3. Add 2 teaspoons oil to 12-inch nonstick skillet and quickly spread oil with paper towel to distribute evenly. Arrange 12 dumplings in skillet, lying flat on one side, with all seams facing same direction, overlapping just slightly, if necessary. Place skillet over medium-high heat and cook, without moving, until dumplings are golden brown on bottoms, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add 1/2 cup water to skillet, and cover immediately. Cook, covered, until most of water is absorbed and wrappers are slightly translucent, about 10 minutes. Uncover skillet and increase heat to medium-high; cook, without stirring, until dumpling bottoms are well browned and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes more. Turn off burner and slide dumplings from skillet onto double layer paper towels, browned side down, to blot excess oil. Transfer to platter and serve immediately with Scallion Dipping Sauce (see related recipe). Let skillet cool until just warm, then wipe skillet clean and repeat with remaining dumplings and oil.

Choosing the Right Wrap: Tasters preferred the slightly chewy texture of gyoza-style wrappers to thinner wonton wrappers, but both styles produced terrific potstickers. Although we developed our recipe using round wrappers, square or rectangular wrappers can be used as well. Here's how to adjust filling amount and steaming time. Because the smaller wrappers yield more dumplings, you'll need to cook them in multiple batches. (For wrapping instructions, see instructions below.)

Round gyoza (3 3/4 inches diameter), fill with 1 rounded tablespoon, steam for 10 minutes
Round wonton (3 3/4 inches diameter), fill with 1 rounded tablespoon, steam for 6 minutes
Square wonton (3 3/8 inches square), fill with 2 rounded teaspoons, steam for 6 minutes
Rectangular wonton (3 1/4 inches by 2 3/4 inches), fill with 1 rounded teaspoon, steam for 5 minutes

STEP BY STEP: Wrapping Potstickers
The instructions below are for round wrappers, our preferred shape. If using square wrappers, fold diagonally into a triangle (step 2) and proceed with the recipe. For rectangular wrappers, fold in half lengthwise.
1. FILL: Place rounded tablespoon of filling in center of gyoza wrapper.
2. FOLD: After moistening edge of wrapper, fold it in half to make half-moon shape.
3. PINCH: With forefinger and thumb, pinch dumpling closed, pressing out any air pockets.
4. FLATTEN: Place dumpling on its side and press gently to flatten bottom.

STEP BY STEP: Clearing the Air
During testing, we discovered that air left between wrapper and filling can cause "ballooning" during steaming, as the wrapper puffs up and away from the meat. The result? A messy first bite. Once we were mindful to press the air out before sealing the wrappers, our potstickers came out right every time.