My boyfriend came home to Wisconsin with me for Thanksgiving this year. He’s been subjected to my family’s feasting before, last when I dragged him along to my sister’s wedding, first when he came to my grad school graduation and met my parents when they came to visit me as well. That time, my mom threw together a meal of NY strip, garlic shrimp, cheesy mashed potatoes, and salad. At my sister’s wedding, he got the full wedding-banquet treatment, whole roast pig and all. My mom fed him so much (you must accept your girlfriend’s mom’s hospitality on penalty of death, I guess) that, as he likes to tell it, he broke out into a nervous sweat, kind of like when you drink too much and you suddenly realize you are very comfortable and don’t know what to do with yourself. Eventually, my mom commanded him to go take a nap.
Thanksgiving, then, in comparison, was relatively light fare. That is, if you consider “light fare” as having pork and shrimp potstickers at every meal, including at breakfast. This apparently is what results when you bring your boyfriend home and your boyfriend tells your mother that he loves all of her food, but the dumplings in particular. It was nothing but the truth, but even I didn’t think my mom would make sure that he’d never go a single meal (this included breakfast) without at least a few. I can’t say I didn’t completely mind, as I more than once snuck down the fridge to steal a few cold on, washing them down with a glass of water and a little bit of shame.
Before I left I had to ask my mom for the recipe and technique, as she is in fact, the master of such things, but in typical-mom fashion, there were no exact measurements or times or directions…just a, you add a little bit of this, then you look at it to make sure it cooks to a golden brown…so on and so forth. And truly, this is the way to cook, and the way I generally cook, whether or not I have hard and fast directions, because really, where cooking (and not baking) is concerned, I think the try-as-y0u-go method is best.
But for a food blog, a general “a little bit of this a little bit of that” is not all that helpful, so here is an approximation of the recipe.
Start with the raw ingredients. I buy my pork pre-ground, but the shrimp start out whole. Shell and devein those suckers, and remove the tail. On a cutting board, cut and grind them with a knife until the shrimp become a paste. Add this into the bowl with the pork, scallions, ginger, seasonings, and soy sauce.
Some people might want to make their own wrappers, but I am not one of them. I went to the local H-Mart Asian grocery store and bought myself some gyoza wrappers (they should be round) in the frozen food section and thawed them when I got home.
To make the potstickers, prepare yourself a little work station with a plate for the finished potstickers, a bowl of water for creasing the edges, the wrappers, and then the filling.
Fill each wrapper with about a tablespoonful of the filling. Wet the edges of the wrapper and then fold it in half. Seal the edges with your finger, pushing the filling inward so it’s compact. When it’s sealed, pinch the edges to make accordion folds.
Keep at it and soon you’ll have a plate full of potstickers ready for the frying pan. Heat and oil the pan. When it’s hot, place 8-10 potstickers in the saucepan at medium to high heat. Let them sizzle, turning them over after about 2-3 minutes on each side. They should be golden, but not burnt. Once both sides have been fried to a bit of a golden crisp, get the water ready. Each batch needs about 1/2 cup of water. While the pan is still piping hot, pour in the water. This process will help steam the dumplings. After about a minute, cover the pan and let the dumplings steam. Do this for 7-8 minutes, flipping the potstickers over at the halfway point so that they get a chance to cook on both sides. Once all the water has evaporated, the potstickers should be cooked and steamed through completely. Serve with soy or some sort of chili dipping sauce, and not only will your stomach be happy, your friends and family will love you forever and a day and ask you to make these constantly if you’re so kind to share them.
- 2 cups water, divided
- 1/2 lb shrimp
- 1/4 lb ground pork
- 1/2 cup chopped scallions
- 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 white sugar
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1-2 packages of premade potsticker/gyoza wrappers
- Clean and devein the 1/2 pound of raw shrimp. Make sure to remove their tails. Chop up the shrimp until it mushy.
- Add shrimp to a mixing bowl along with the ground pork, scallions, ginger, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar, and pepper. Knead together until the ingredients are completely incorporated.
- Fill a bowl with 1/2 cup of lukewarm water. This will be used to seal the potstickers together.
- In each wrapper, fill with about 1 tablespoon of filling. Wet the edges of the potsticker and fold in half to create a half-moon shape. With your thumb and forefinger, create accordion pleats along the edge. Continue with this until you’ve used up all of your filling or all of your wrappers.
- Heat up a pan and coat lightly with oil. Place 7-10 potstickers into the hot pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. The wrapper should be a pale golden brow.
- To the hot pan, then add 1/2 cup of water to steam the dumplings. The water will evaporate and steam the potstickers. Make sure to distribute the water evenly throughout the pan. Cover with a lid for 4 minutes to let steam. Take the cover off to flip the potstickers over onto the other side. Cover again with the lid and cook another 3-4 minutes until the water has completely evaporated.
- Remove the potstickers in the pan and continue with the above steps until all the potstickers are cooked.
- Serve with sauce or eat plain. If you don’t want all of the potstickers at once, they will freeze well for a few days. Make sure, however, to freeze them before you cook them.
If you want to skip making your own potstickers, though, might I recommend you visit the dumpling maker at Chinatown Express next time you’re in Washington D.C.?