Thursday, December 15, 2005


Mushroom-Ginger Potstickers

Why hello you sweet things! How are you today? Let's dish. Have you ever gone into a restaurant and ordered something off of the menu with a full mental picture of what you were going to receive, but when the food is set down, it is unfamiliar or maybe just a little bit off? You know, maybe you asked for a wienershnitzle and got veal instead of a hot dog? That kinda thing.

Of course, with a zillion possible variations on any one theme, is there really any absolute version? Even with classics - something tried and true, we almost always tweak it to our tastes, to what is available or to what we are able to pull off. And if you have never even seen the original version, who is to say your version is off? Right? Right. And for me, it's exciting to see how someone else interprets a dish I think I know so well.

All that said, I made pot stickers last night. At least, what I consider pot stickers. Tasty bites of pan fried and steamed stuffed noodles. I could eat them all day. I have had pot stickers in restaurants in North America, but never in Shanghi, (where I guess they originated) so I only know this style, and I can honestly say they meet and exceed my own expectations for yumminess.

They are tricky to serve as a cocktail snack because they require utensils to dip them into the salty, tart and gingery sauce, so I suggest serving them as a starter to a meal, or just for yourself as an indulgent morsel. (Though, if you are going that route, cut the recipe by 3/4, ya?)

The method, one you have tried it, it quite simple really. Authentic, of course not, but scrumptious none the less. The best type of food.

The basic idea is that your ingredients need to be minced fine and cooked, then the potstickers built and cooked. The ingredients themselves can vary any which way you like, so long as you end up with about 2 cups of filling for 24 wontons. At that point you can keep them for a few days (no more than three I would say) and make them to be served hot. The beauty here is that unlike with pastry type turnovers, the noodles and the filling will stay the same size when cooked, so you can stuff them as full as you like, so long as they seal shut. Try them, and enjoy.

24 wonton wrappers
2 pounds mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1/2 small onion
2 tablespoons ginger
A few scallions
Vegetable oil
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine or black vinegar
Sesame seeds
1 cup water, chicken or vegetable stock
Chives for garnish

Optional additions:
Minced chicken or pork, water chestnuts, celery, cabbage, carrots, chiles, peanuts or cilantro

Finely mince the mushrooms, garlic, onion, ginger and scallions. (And any other ingredients you want to add.) In a large saute pan over medium heat, saute the minced ingredients until they are fully cooked. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Mix together your dipping sauce. It should be to your taste (obviously) but to get you started, go with three tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the wine/vinegar, a few drops of sesame oil and a teaspoon of minced ginger. Whisk that together and then add a sprinkling of sesame seeds. Taste and adjust.

Pour a little bit of water into a small container.

Place about a teaspoons worth of the filling onto the lower half of each of the wontons. Lightly moisten the top edge of each noodle, fold over to create half moons and press down to seal. (Ideally you would create a few decorative folds at this point, but you know, who has the time...)

In a large pan with a lid, heat a few teaspoons of your vegetable oil until it is rippling. Carefully add the potstickers in a single layer. Do not move them. Let cook for three minutes. Peek under one and see if it has browned. When they are browned add enough stock/water to just cover the bottom of the pan. Slap on the lid and let steam three minutes. Remove from the pan with a slotted spatula onto a cutting board. Blot with a towel if they are super wet.

Garnish with sesame seeds and chives and serve


Black Vinegar: A dark complex vinegar made of glutinous rice and malt somewhat similar to a balsamic used in Chinese stir-frys, braises and sauces. Substitutions: Red rice vinegar - Gourmet

Japan’s two-year-old ban on American beef was lifted and Colorado ranchers sent their first shipment out Wednesday. Japan is putting limitations on types of cattle that will be accepted, "all animals must be 20 months or younger." - Cattle are Colorado's top commodity - there are approx. 2.5 million head, valued at $2.5 billion statewide - Denver Post

Dumplings have been made in China for more than four centuries. They are still a favorite in Shanghai and Beijing, where hundreds of specialty stalls make nothing else. They should be eaten with a dip of vinegar and shredded fresh ginger. Dumplings are called "pot stickers" because the base of the dumpling is crisped and browned in oil before steaming. - Do

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Yum! I've always been intimidated by making potstickers at home, but I just might give these a try!
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Great ! My husband loved them, he didn't believe I made them ! I added boiled chicken thighs (seasoned first & then shredded after boiling) and used shitake mushrooms (since I had them-packaged), water chestnuts (I had them leftover from a recent spinach dip recipe), and shredded broccoli slaw (bag in the salad section)[cabbage slaw/mix would be just as good]. I would suggest if you wanted this to be a quick meal to prepare the mix a day prior as doing all of it on the same day is a little time-consuming (especially with little ones around). I didn't mind the extra time spent though - they're fantastic. [PS - I used the broth leftover from boiling the chicken and since I seasoned the chicken before I boiled it, it was seasoned broth). Next time I'll try it with just vegetables to make it even healthier.
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