February is around the corner, and yet I’m still getting season’s greeting cards from friends and relatives. The greeting cards convey best wishes for a happy and prosperous Year of the Rabbit. As it is, the Chinese Lunar New Year falls on February 3 this year. It is customary for families to reunite and enjoy a big feast together the night before. And many families, especially those who came from the northern part of China, will be making and eating dumplings and pot-stickers. These delicious bites are particularly fitting for the occasion as they take on the shape of gold ingots, and are taken as a sign of prosperity in the coming year. Think of the fortune cookies you’ve been getting at the Chinese restaurants. They are also made in the shape of gold ingots.
The dumplings are called 饺子(jiǎozi). They are usually steamed or cooked in boiling water. The pot-stickers, 锅贴(guōtiē), are pan-fried dumplings. Some recipes ask you to steam the dumplings then pan-fry them. I prefer to cook and pan-fry the pot-stickers in one step. If you have an hour or so to spare, you could make a batch of these tidbits yourself. If you can gather a couple friends to do this together, it will be so much more fun. There will be more mouths to feed, but you can cut down the time it takes to form the dumplings. Although they are called pot-stickers, you don’t really want the dumplings to stick to the pot. Therefore, a non-stick frying pan is called for. The following recipe uses cooked shrimp meat and does not include any raw meat. It is safe for use in a high school cooking class, except for students or teachers who are allergic to seafood.
1 lb Green Cabbage
1 Tbsp. Vegetable Oil for stir-frying the cabbage
1/2 tsp. Salt
5-6 stalks Green Onions (cleaned and finely chopped)
10 stalks Chinese Garlic Chives (optional)
1/2 lb. small cooked shrimp, finely chopped
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Sesame Seed Oil (optional)
1/4 tsp. Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp cornstarch
1 package Extra-thick Gyoza Wrappers (about 34 per package.)
(Gyoza is the Japanese word for jiǎozi.)
3 Tbsp. Corn Oil for frying the pot-stickers
Sauce for Dipping
3 Tbsp Soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Vinegar
½ tsp. Water
1/8 tsp. Sesame Seed Oil (optional)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (optional)
1. Cut the cabbage leaves into very thin shreds.
Heat 1 Tbsp. of corn oil in a frying pan at MEDIUM HIGH until hot. Add the shredded cabbage and the 1/2 tsp. salt to the pan and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water, cover and cook 3 to 4 minutes until the cabbage looks limp. Do not overcook. Turn off the heat. When the cabbage has cooled down, transfer it to a cutting board and chop it finely.
2. Into a large mixing bowl, add the chopped cabbage, green onions, shrimp, sugar, sesame seed oil, and ground black pepper. Sprinkle the cornstarch over the mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed. You want to have about three and a half cups of filling.
3. Spread about 2 ft of clear plastic wrap on a clean, dry countertop. Layout 6 Gyoza wrappers at one end of the plastic wrap. Place about 1 Tbsp. of the filling at the center of each Gyoza wrapper. Moisten the tip of a pastry brush with water and go around the edges of each Gyroza wrapper. Fold the Gyoza wrapper over and pinch at the center. Pinch the two sides together to seal the pot-sticker well. Stand the pot-sticker up and push down slightly to form a flat bottom.
Arrange the 6 filled pot-stickers neatly at the other end of the plastic wrap. Repeat to assemble the next 6 pot-stickers. Continue until all the wrappers are used up.
4. Heat 3 Tbsp. of corn oil in a large flat non-stick frying pan at MEDIUM HIGH until hot. Carefully add 25-30 pot-stickers to the pan (depending on the size of the pan), arranging them in three neat columns. Push the pot-stickers close together, with the sides touching. Fry uncovered for 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water and cover the pan with its lid. Cook covered for 7-8 minutes, or until done. The pot-stickers are done when the water in the pan has evaporated, oil reappears in the pan, and the bottom of the pot-stickers have turned golden crisp. Use a long flat wooden spatula to carefully scrape up the pot-stickers, 1/2 column at a time, and invert them onto a plate. (With this dish, the bottom side is the “nice” side.) The sauce is quite strong. Go easy with the dipping.
好吃!! (Hǎochī!) Delicious!