Weekly musings on the nuances of home, family, and better living

Homebody Eats: College Days Potstickers

Folding potstickers is one of those activities that is both challenging and highly rewarding, and they’re a really fun activity to do with loved ones. I made these potstickers all the time in college and have fond memories of them as a favorite cheap eat when I was college-poor. There’s something deeply satisfying about eating like a king (or queen!) when you don’t have much money, and I think that’s why I have such warm memories about dumplings in general.

My cheater folding method for potstickers makes little purses. This is the shape you want.

So here’s my personal recipe you can take into your own home and make memories with! If you’re a cook who doesn’t mind spending some time in the kitchen with some wine, these are for you. There are lots of variations, but this is my favorite way to do them. You can vary the spicy components and can buy premade wrappers at the store, but fresh dough is better tasting and more rewarding texturally.

Pork Filling:
1/2 pound pork mince (something with some fat like an 80/20)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp corn starch
½-1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp rice wine (shaoxing)
2 tsp soy mix (light/dark mix or whatever you’ve got)
1 tbsp sesame oil (I sometimes omit this)
Bok choy chopped very thin (about a handful)
Green onion (2-3 stocks)
Ginger knob (1-1 ½ inches ginger)
2 cloves minced garlic
2-4 tbs Huy Fong Chili garlic chili sauce- (Look for the stout green capped bottle at the store in the Asian section)

200 ml boiling water (about ⅚ cups – must be just off the boil when flour is mixed)
300g flour (2.4 cups appx-more or less as the dough needs it)
Dash or two of salt

To cook:
100 ml water-cold (a generous half cup)
1 Tbsp oil (I use canola)

Combine all filling ingredients except for wrapper components. Note regarding the bok choy and green onions: We just want enough of the green parts to have enough spread throughout the filling. It isn’t a salad, so don’t overdo it!

Let the filling set for 20-30 minutes while you mix the flour. The baking soda will break down the pork a bit and the cornstarch will provide a smooth mouthfeel when cooked. Very nice. Grab a glass of wine. Feel fancy.

Put water on the boil and measure out your flour. Add your boiling water into the mixing bowl with the flour and salt and mix with chopsticks until low temp enough to handle comfortably with your hands. Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes until it feels smooth and velvety. Add flour to it as you knead if it’s too wet. We want something you can easily handle and not have it leaving tons of stuff on your hands. We want a velvety texture that is smooth. Divide your dough in half and cover with cling film. Rest 20 minutes. Have another glass of wine. I won’t judge!

Roll your dough ball out into long tubes and cut off equal sized 1-1.5” pieces of dough. Keep them uniform and flatten each on a floured surface. Roll them into 3” diameter circles with a rolling pin or wine bottle. You can cheat by using a round cookie cutter and can actually roll out your dough all in one big sheet. Whatever floats your boat, Chef!

Place about a teaspoon and a half of filling in each dumpling wrapper, then wrap them by following this tutorial video. Place each filled dumpling on a lightly floured surface under a slightly damp towel or cling film until ready to cook.

I cheat and make little purses instead because I have large sausages for man hands. To make purses, close the dumpling in the middle and sides, then press it to seal in a ‘sealed taco’ shape. Fold the corners inward and push the dough into the center top a bit while pinching. This gives the purse shape and goes way faster than the traditional method. See my picture below for the shape of my cheater method potstickers.

To cook:
Heat the oil and pan over medium heat. Place the dumplings flat side down for about two minutes until you get the bottom golden brown. Quickly add your water into the pan and cover it with a lid. Reduce your heat down until the water simmers, then wait 7-8 minutes until all the water evaporates before taking off the lid. Take the pan off the burner and give the dumplings a shake so they release from the pan. Don’t touch them for about another minute, and let them rest a bit so they’re less liable to rip. Temp one of them to ensure they hit 145 F for food safety. They can temp higher and that’s fine, but don’t overdo it. Keep in mind that the pork filling will be slightly pink because of the chili sauce, but they’re safe to eat and not a concern if they reach the right temp.

Serve your potstickers with rice, more wine (sake?), soy sauce, chili paste, and any side you’d like. I hope you and your family start some new memories in your home with this recipe and find it as rewarding as I do! May your bowls, bellies, and hearts be full!

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