Monday, July 6, 2009

Chinese Dumplings - Jiǎozi - Gyōza

A friend across the table had some pretty good looking potstickers on her plate the other day and this reminded me that we haven't had any Chinese dumplings in the freezer in a good long time. I had 1/2 a cabbage in the fridge and was headed to the grocery store anyway, so time to make gyoza!

Two fellow grad students, one from Taiwan, the other from Bangkok, taught me to make dumplings many years ago. We used to wait for very cold days so we could fill the back of a pick-up with trays of fresh dumplings to freeze. Like many filled dumplings from around the world, the filling is flexible. Lots of veggies not only add flavor but stretch the meat. We eat too much meat around here so this is not a bad idea.

Ingredients (amounts are flexible):
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, or a full head of nappa or bok choy
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • a 2-inch knob of ginger root
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 pound ground pork (or chicken or turkey)
  • 2-4 Tbl. soy sauce
  • About 100 wonton skins (usually found in the vegetable case in the grocery store)
You can use fewer wonton skins and make meatballs of part of the mixture by rolling balls of it in bread crumbs and frying.

  1. Mince cabbage, green onions, cilantro, ginger root and garlic in batches in the food processor and dump in a large bowl.
  2. Mix the vegetable mix, ground meat and soy sauce with your hands until well blended.
  3. Place a spoonful of filling on each wonton skin and fold to seal.
  4. Freeze flat on lined cookie sheets.
Note that I am not going to explain in detail how to fold these. That's because I am terrible at it. I dip my fingers in a bowl of water and wet two adjacent edges of the wonton. Then I fold it in half to make a triangle, smushing the air out and sealing the edges as best I can. Not a pretty sight. But the shape does not affect the taste so no need to shy from making them.

You can use a variety of different methods to cook these. Steam them. Boil them in chicken broth for wonton soup. Steam and then saute for pot stickers. If you are feeling very naughty, deep fry them.

Pork Potstickers on Foodista

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Imprecise & Inexpensive

Two themes predominate in my approach to cooking. 1. Daily cooking of flavorful food need not be a precise art. 2. You can be an adventurous cook on a budget. Cooking and eating should be fun for both cookers and eaters.