I first made dumplings with my wonderful friend Xin Li in graduate school. Known as Mama Xin in my little lab of beleaguered grad students, Xin had moved to the US with her husband and daughter from China about 3 years before we met. She knew the dumplings were my favorite, and would bring them to me if she knew I was having a hard time in the lab. The day after the funeral of my best friend, there was a hot plate of dumplings left for me with out explanation on my desk. I think I cried for about a week over that. Asian Dumplings are comfort food, as sure as a big bowl of the puffy Bisquick variety.
¼ soy sauce
1 tbs chilé garlic sauce
splash white wine vinegar
drizzle sesame oil
Combine soy sauce, chilé garlic sauce, and white wine vinegar. Slowly wisk in a thin stream of sesame oil (about 2 tsp).
1 brick extra firm organic tofu
1 cup shredded bok choy
½-¾ cup shredded red cabbage
½ cup shredded carrots
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
¼ cup fresh green onion tops, chopped
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs hoisin sauce (optional: leave it out for vegans)
2 tbs chilé garlic sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 package goyza wrappers, or wonton skins
4 tbs water
2 tbs corn starch
**Meaty alternative: Combine 1 lb ground pork, ½ cup green chopped green onion, 2 tbs soy sauce, 2 tbs hoisin sauce, 2 tsp sesame oil, 2 tbs chilé garlic sauce. Use this instead of the tofu/cabbage mixture.
Drain water from tofu and then crush the entire brick in a large bowl. Add shredded cabbages, carrots, ginger, shallots, hot sauce, soy, hoisin, cilantro, and green onions. Mix, just to bring together. Taste the mixture and re-season as desired. You want a dry mixture. No liquid should pool in the bottom of the bowl. In a small dish combine water and corn starch.
Prepare an area in which to assemble the dumplings. You will need: A large plate on which to work, a cookie sheet lined with wax paper (plus additional wax paper for additional layers), a small soup spoon, raw goyza wrappers, and a clean dry cup towel.
With the area set up: place a single goyza wrapper on your work plate. Place about 1 tbs of the filling in the center of the wrapper. Dip a finger in the corn starch and water mixture, making certain to mix the solution a little. Shake off most of the excess liquid, then run the finger around the bottom edge of the wrapper only. You want to just barely wet the wrapper, not soak it.
Dry your fingers using the clean cup towel. Carefully fold the top half of the wrapper down to meet the bottom. Then pick up the wonton, and use the fingers of one hand to gently seal the edges. You aren’t trying to press the dough together, only use the corn starch/water mixture as glue. Carefully press out bubbles. Try not to get the filling in the seam as this will prevent it from sealing.
Place the folded wonton on a wax paper lined baking sheet. Separate layers with an additional sheet of waxed paper. If you don’t wish to use all of them in one day, place the dumplings in single layers in your freezer. When they have completely frozen through, you can bag them and save them in the freezer for about a month. Between the assembly of each dumpling, wipe your plate with the cup towel. You want a dry work surface.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium high heat. Add about 2 tbs of canola oil to the bottom of the pan. Place folded dumplings, one at a time, in the hot oil. DO NOT TURN. Clamp a tight lid down over the dumplings and let them cook for about 1 minute. You are actually encouraging the dumpling to stick to the bottom of the pot. Hence the name potsticker. Lift the lid from the dutch oven and add about ¼ cup of cold water to the pan. Clamp the lid back on and cook for an additonal minute. This will unstick the dumpling from the pan. If you are using a meat filling make certain it has time to cook all the way through.
Serve, burned side up, with the dipping sauce.
I actually prefer the meat filling here. Somehow the tofu will always be just a tiny bit too watery for my taste. I like this tofu filling though. It’s got plenty of flavor and is virtually guilt free as far as calories go. If you don’t want to use the pot sticking method, you can steam the dumplings using a metal steamer basket, a spray of olive oil, and a big pot. If you would like to boil the dumplings (more precisly you would poach them): bring a large pot of water to just under the boil. Stir the water slowly with a large spoon to create a vortex. One at a time, gently drop in the dumplings and cook for about 3 mintutes. Strain and eat.