Stuck to the Pot

I have been procrastinating in making dumplings for a few weeks now until I took the opportunity to really try my skills in making this simple dish.

Dumplings are distantly related to wantons because both may contain meat and vegetable fillings. However, the dumpling wrapper is thicker and oblate in shape and sealed by crimping the edges together making a closed crescent or purse. These are usually accompanied by a soy sauce-based sauce with and or chili paste. In cooking dumplings, they can be just steamed, boiled, pan or deep fried. Or a combination of these methods may be applied to get the desired texture and effect.

It is believed that dumplings symbolize prosperity and good fortune (legend says that a Chinese Imperial chef accidentally over cooked a batch of dumpling and slightly burned one side. He served it to the court and fortunate for him that they loved it). During Chinese New Year and grand celebrations, the Jiaozi is part of the menu. But it doesn't mean that one would have to wait for celebrations to be able to have a wonderful time savoring this appetizer. Just go to any Chinese, Japanese (they call their dumplings as Gyoza) or Korean (Mandu) restaurant and order.

The easy part in making this is store-bought dumpling wrapper. I could make some from scratch but currently, I don't have the patience and time to do it. I could have just left is as plain crescents but I wanted to add a little flair plus presentation so I added "pleats" (see the inset photograph above).

The Ingredients:

1 cup napa cabbage(sometimes called Chinese cabbage or Baguio Pechay), chopped
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 cup green onions, minced
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
Dash of white pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
375 grams lean ground pork
60 grams shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
24 oblate/round dumpling wrappers
canola oil, divided
2 cups chicken broth, divided (you may use the fat-free, low sodium for a more healthier approach)

Cooking Procedure:

Mix the first 10 ingredients in a bowl.
Get 1 wrapper and spoon a heaping teaspoonful of filling into the center of the wrapper. Moisten the edges with water then fold in half. Pinch the edges or crimp the edges to seal. Holding the sealed edges of the pot sticker between the thumb and first two fingers of each hand, form 3 to 4 pleats along the seal. Set aside with the seam side up on a dry platter. Repeat the steps until you have filled the remaining wrappers.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. If a non-skillet is used, you have the option to omit the oil or lessen the oil further to a teaspoon at a time. If you have a small skillet, cook the dumplings in 3 batches.
Arrange 12 pot stickers with the seam sides up in pan, and cook for 45 seconds or until browned. Pour 1 cup of the broth and cook for 5 minutes covered. The steam will cook the dumplings through.Uncover and cook about 1 minute or until liquid evaporates . Remove the pot stickers from pan; cover and keep warm. Repeat for the remaining set of dumplings.

Serve with a soy sauce-based dip. The soy sauce-based dip could be a combination of soy sauce, grated ginger, vinegar or lemon juice, a little sugar and a few drops of sesame oil. Chili paste may be added for a more spice.

My Notes: Be careful not burn the bottoms completely because they tend to stick and it would be harder to remove. Keep the initial batches warm and covered because as they cool and is exposed to the air, the wrappers tend to harden.

The verdict: The ready-made wrapper was too thick for Mom's taste. But the filling was good. They were easy to make and cook. I didn't use a non-stick pan and thankfully they didn't stick. Each had a pretty brown crusty bottom. I am planning to serve this for the holidays and bless the family with some prosperity and good fortune.

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