Pot Stickers

Dim Sum are not particularly popular over here in the UK yet. I mean, it took us more than 40 years to catch onto sushi and I still can’t imagine anyone over the age of 70 relishing a delicious Salmon Skin Roll. My own grandfathers’ face, contorted into a mask of disgust at the thought of cold rice AND raw fish, will be forever etched into my mind when I first introduced him to the joys of supermarket sushi (and, as our dear old Coney would say, leave ‘em be).
Dim Sum is another matter altogether though. There is no searingly hot chilli to contend with, no raw fish to dice with and the chopsticks are entirely optional. Add all these winning factors to the irrefutable fact that they taste mighty fine and you’re onto a winner.
Or so you would think.
A local Dim Sum restaurant has opened up near us. Keen to visit, we checked out their website, only to be greeted with incredibly expensive delicacies that will surely mean that the death knell of this local restaurant is looming with great rapidity.
Why so expensive though? Sure, Dim Sum are fiddly, they are delicate and dainty. But the ingredients are dirt cheap. Pork Mince? Prawns, and seasonings. We are not talking about lobster and caviar folks, just honest, decent ingredients served in whimsical (to a Brit) steamers. Alas, in this instance, the name Dim Sum (roughly translated: Order to your Hearts’ Content) is – as usual - betrayed by British commercialism and greed.
But, there is hope for those of us who are not fortunate to live near a Dim Sum restaurant that offers great value as well as great food: make your own!
Don’t be shocked, it’s easy to wrap things in, er, wrappers. You’ve made egg rolls, right? Used Filo pastry? Wrapped a Band-Aid around your bleeding finger, using your non-dominant hand? Dim Sum are, therefore, a piece of metaphorical cake.
And, if you’re scared of wrappers, then take heart. Not all Dim Sum is fiddly. Chicken Feet, Spare Ribs, Congee Rice all take the form of Dim Sum. And for the sweet-toothed among you, there are the delicious dumplings, tarts and puddings, made with Red Bean Paste, Mango, Tapioca and, curiously, very little chocolate at all.
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can organise a Dim Sum feast for friends and get most of the prep work completed the day before.
As for us, sitting here all smug proselytising about the joys of Dim Sum, we can confirm that yes, we have made some and yes, they were entirely successful, if not aesthetically pleasing (although for a first attempt, still quite cute really): Savoury Dumplins’, known in China as Jiaozi and in Japan as Gyoza.
The dumplings, little savoury morsels of ground pork, prawn, water chestnuts, cabbage, ginger etc, encased in Wonton Wrappers can be poached, steamed or shallow fried (Pot Stickers), served with a dipping sauce or dropped into broth. I favour the Pot Sticker method. It gives a delicious triple texture: the tender upper half of the dumpling which is steamed, the bronzed derriere and the innards, both soft and crisp, depending on the filling. Pot Stickers are traditionally served at special occasions and when turned out, they certainly look stunning when turned out onto a serving platter.

And, despite them looking complex, they are simple to prepare (Paul even made his own Wonton Wrapper dough, which was incredibly quick, simple and easy to work with) and it would be fun to get your guests in the kitchen, forming the little dumplings and arranging them in the frying pan, then digging in with chopsticks around the cooker.
We served our Pot Stickers with some takeaway noodles and rice, but they make a filling treat by themselves.
To make your own Dim Sum Delight, here's how:
SHRIMP AND PORK POT STICKERS (from Gourmet Magazine Feb 2006)
(or you can use ready made Wonton Wrappers which are available on your local Asian supermarket or deli in the chiller)
1.5 Cups Plain Flour
1/2 Cup Lukewarm Water
3 or 4 Water Chestnuts (I used canned), chopped into small dice
1/2Lb Prawns, chopped
1/4Lb Ground Pork
3/4 Cup Chopped Spring Onion (about 4-5)
1.5 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Teaspoons Minced Ginger
1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
To make the dough, stir together the flour and water in a bowl until roughly combined. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and kneed until a smooth dough is formed. Add a little more flour if the dough is too sticky.
Wrap in clingfilm and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to an hour.
Whilst waiting for the dough to chill, you can mix the filling together by throwing all the ingredients into a large bowl and mixing well. The filling will be sticky. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the wrappers, roll out the dough until very thin, the thickness of a sheet of kitchen roll, cut into 3.5" rounds using a smooth biscuit cutter, lightly dusting them to avoid them sticking together. You should get 24 rounds out, reusing scraps.
To form the dumplings, hold a round wrapper in the palm of your slightly cupped hand and, using a measuring tablespoon (rather than a serving tablespoon), scoop some mixture onto the middle of the wrapper. Wet one half of the edge with some water and bring the edges up to the middle and crimp with your finger tips until completely sealed. We did this part wrong and folded them in half, like little Empanadas. If you find this easier, you will still get an impressive looking turnout in the end.
Once you have made the 24 dumplings, heat 1 tablespoon of peanut oil in a 10" frying pan over medium high heat.
To arrange the dumplings, place 7 in the middle of the pan in a simple Chrysanthemum shape, then arrange the remaining dumplings around the outside. You may have to jiggle them around a little to fit, but they will go.
Cook over relatively high heat for 3-5 minutes (depending on how hot your hotplate gets) until the bottoms are browned. We actually needed longer than this because our oven is very temperamental.
Once evenly and deliciously browned, pour over 1/2 cup warm water. It will sizzle a little. Tilt the pan to ensure that the water is evenly distributed, cover and steam for about 10 minutes.
To turn out, carefully get a large plate with no tilting edges, hold over the frying pan and flip over quickly but carefully.
Serve with some dipping sauce, Sweet Chilli is always popular but I mix up my own with a little Soy, a little Nam Pla (Fish Sauce), some Lime Juice, a sliced red chilli, minced garlic and ginger and some sugar to taste. Leave for at least an hour for the flavours to mingle. This sauce keeps really well in the fridge too.


Meeta K. Wolff said...

LOL! I can imagine the look on your granddad's face. I was introduced to sushi years ago by my dad - but I cannot imagine my granddad going for this either.
You've really taken Dim SUM a whole new level here. Fantastic!

L said...

Hi Freya,

Lovely blog, I found it via Roshani's Living to Eat.

The pot sticker dumplings are known as 'jiaozi' in Mandarin, and 'war tip' in Cantonese. Just a suggestion, if I may? wonton wrappers are definitely not right for this style of dumpling - they are too thin and are either deep fried or served in a soup.

If you'd like to try your hand at more dumplings, try this thread (at bbc food) out - the poster named sunflower has a wealth of knowledge.

I'm yet to get further than potsticker dumplings myself; I'm too close to chinatown which makes me a lazy girl!

L said...

D'oh! It'd help if I posted the link - sorry

Claude-Olivier Marti said...

Hello, glad to read you again! Thanks for your comment, hope you have understood..but the pictures tell everything ;-) Like in your post, it looks great! cheers

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

Wow - thanks for forging this path for us. Having read your account, I am willing to now try this at home, at least with store-bought wonton wrapper. But, having finally mastered home made pasta, I can see that preparing the dough would be about as simple, and probably more fun.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

Pot stickers, dim sum dumplings are possibly one of my all time favourite things to eat! I've made them with ready made wonton wrappers and I've bought special flour from wing yip a couple of times that has ended up in the bin out of date because I'm a lazy toad and never got round to making the skins myself!

Kelly-Jane said...

I can remember about 20 (that's scary!) years ago reading about pot sticker dunmplings, and being really enchanted with the name. I've never actually had dim-dum, probably due to the fact that the dim-sum place in town is opposite one of our favourite Chinese places, so we have always gone there!

I'd still like to try them though... they still sound so good.

One of our elderly relatives, who is, bless her, really adventurous with food, has said outright - (just in case there was ever any doubt) that cold rice and raw fish she will NOT eat! The repulsed facial expression is memorable for me too! =)

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

In all the many times I've made potstickers at home, I've never ever attempted to make my own wrappers from scratch. I am so impressed!

Chris said...

I love potstickers but have never made them from scratch. I usually but them from the store and steam some up. I love when they get a little crispy. These look absolutely yummy.

Paula said...

Seriously impressed by the dumpling wrapper making! We've made potstickers before (who wouldn't want to fry them?) but cheated and bought the wrappers making them really pretty easy. Weird as it sounds they're great with a dipping sauce of brown rice vinegar mixed with matchsticks of fresh ginger and a little sugar to sweeten.

Bruno said...

Freya and Paul,

Your pot stickers look great! They are one of my favorites when I'm in an Asian food mood!