Traditional potstickers get a new twist with spinach and thyme. They’re crisp on the outside and juicy on the inside. Perfect for your next party!
Who knew that the dumpling making skills I started learning as an 8-year-old would come in handy 20 years later?
I fancy myself being Mama Lin’s favorite kitchen helper. Whenever she pulled out her big royal blue plastic board (which she still uses even though it’s about as old as I am), I knew it was dumpling time. Of course, I would be lying if I told you that I enjoyed making dumplings every time. If dumplings cut into my Saturday afternoon TV, I moaned and groaned. Unlike my older siblings, however, I would still help Mama Lin because I knew I got first dibs on cooked dumplings. There’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
The theme for this month’s Recipe Redux is “Food Memories,” and I knew immediately that I wanted to do something with potstickers. It’s the wonderful crisp that these dumplings get from heat and oil that make them one of my favorites. It’s funny that even though I don’t make potstickers often (the last time was probably a few years ago), my fingers immediately know what to do when I put the wrappers in my hand. The first two always look ugly. Always.
We’re going to shake things up a bit with the potstickers by putting ingredients in here that Mama Lin never would: spinach and fresh thyme. Mama Lin’s recipe for potstickers is best described as whimsical. It changes depending on her mood. There’s always pork, cabbage, and ginger, but she’ll alternate between Chinese chives, water chestnuts, Chinese sausage, and shrimp. In the same whimsical spirit that Mama Lin puts into her potstickers, we’re adding a bit of spinach and a whole lotta thyme in these darlings.
But first, we need to learn how to fold potstickers like a pro. Of course, the easy way out is to fold them in half and seal them, but I like to make them look fancy. Again, I’m always about the presentation.
The folding looks a bit intimidating at first, but once you get the hang of it, it ain’t no thing but a chicken wing! Mama Lin swears by the New Hong Kong Noodle Company’s potsticker warppers, and they’re my favorite, too. Unfortunately, I only find these in Chinese supermarkets.
Whichever brand you buy, just make sure that it actually says potsticker wrappers on the packaging. Potsticker wrappers are thicker than other wrappers (like wontons), which make them perfect for pan-frying. I’ve used thinner wrappers before, and they tend to fall apart when I scraped them off the pan. (Side note: The photos you’re seeing in the step-by-step sequence are from a batch of pork and cabbage potstickers I made.)
Mama Lin’s little trick for making potstickers is to dip a bit of the wrapper (about 1/2 inch deep), and rotate it so that you get a semi-circle of water. This will help you seal the pleats on the potsickers. Let the potsticker wrapper rest on your fingers on the left hand. Don’t put it on your palm because it will make the next step more difficult. Then, fill the center with a spoonful of meat. Resist the urge to fill it with too much meat! We don’t want the potstickers to burst.
Using your right thumb and right forefinger, pinch and seal a bit of the dry part of the wrapper with the wet part. Use your left thumb to hold the filling down as you pleat the potsticker. Then, using your forefingers, pinch a bit of the wet part of the wrapper together. You have created your first pleat!
Press down that pleat along the dry side of the wrapper. Continue creating pleats until until you reach the end on the left side. Seal the potsticker. When I’m done folding/pleating a potsticker, I like to set it down on a large tray or baking sheet and use my fingers to make sure that the top of the potsticker is shaped like a half-moon. This is not necessary, but it is just makes the potsticker prettier. Again, presentation points.
That is it! I also need to thank my friend Jackelyn at Fiterazzi for helping me take these step-by-step photos! I definitely would not be able to shoot all these on my own!
Let’s see what food memories other members of The Recipe Redux conjured up for their tasty creations!