There are some things that most people wouldn’t think to make at home because they think it’s too difficult and resort to frozen commercially made versions or take out. Pot stickers is one such item. Quite easy to make and ultimately freezable, why not make your own? I used to make these a lot when my children were still living at home. As teens, they loved to pop these out of the freezer and make them for a snack at midnight-trust me, I was long asleep-or show off for their friends. Eventually, we made them together (no free rides here!) and there was always a supply on hand. It’s the perfect starter to a stir fry or as part of a tapas-style Asian meal.
I have a number of versions of the filling including one straight from Susanna Foo, but the technique is the same whatever the filling. Recently a recipe in the Wall Street Journal for Pho, the Vietnamese noodle soup, caught my eye and I tore out the page and tucked it away. I was passing Assi, the Asian grocery store in North Wales, PA, over the weekend and thought about the tucked-away recipe. So I ran in for the necessary fresh ingredients. While I was prepping the Pho, I flipped the page and saw this recipe for Pho Pot Stickers. I had the ingredients. Why not? A perfect accompaniment for the Pho. I am so glad I made this-I think it’s the best dumpling I have made. In this case I used chicken thighs for the meat and they were delish.
I bring you a how-to for Pho Pot Stickers, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal via “The Pho Cookbook” by Andrea Nguyen.
Pho Pot Stickers
For the spice blend:
1 star anise pod, broken into 8 pieces
1 whole clove
¼ tsp. fennel seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
5 black peppercorns
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the Dumplings:
2 tsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and finely chopped
¼ C. finely chopped Thai basil, cilantro or mint
½ C, finely chopped scallions, white and green parts
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
¼ tsp. fine sea salt
1 TBL. fish sauce
¼ C. low sodium chicken stock or water
3 ½ TBL. plus vegetable oil
8 oz. ground or finely chopped pork, dark meat chicken chicken, beef or lamb
1 ¼ tsp. cornstarch(optional)
24 round dumpling wrappers, labeled pot sticker or gyoza skins
For Dipping Sauce:
2 TBL. soy sauce(I use dark soy sauce)
1 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled and julienned
1 ½ TBL. unseasoned rice vinegar
3 TBL. water
5 thin slices of jalapeno pepper(optional)
Make the pho spice blend(this is enough for 2 recipes of the pot stickers):
1) In a small skillet toast the star anise, clove fennel, coriander and peppercorns until fragrant and slightly darkened.
2) Finely grind the spices in a spice grinder, clean coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Add the cinnamon and stir to combine.
Make the filling:
1) In a bowl stir together the ginger, chilies, basil, scallions, pepper, salt, 1 tsp. of the pho spice blend, fish sauce, broth and 1 ½ TBL. of oil.
2) Add ground meat to the mixture and stir very well to combine. Add the cornstarch if using. The cornstarch is to thicken the mixture and absorb any liquid, making it easier to fill the wrappers without runny filling. I just refrigerated the filling for 30 minutes and didn’t need to use the cornstarch.
3) Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce by combining all the sauce ingredients. Set aside.
Make the Pot Stickers:
1) Line a baking sheet with parchment.
2) Place a small cup of water on your work surface.
3) Place a paper towel on your work surface and lay out one round wrapper.
4) Fold it in ½. And open it back up.
5) Place a small mound of filling spanning the crease in the wrapper.
6) Wet your finger and run it around the bottom edge of the wrapper.
7) Fold the top half over the bottom half, pressing to seal. Make sure no filling is in the pressed area-it will open during cooking.
8) Now stand the half moon up so the sealed edges are toward the ceiling and the filling is at the bottom, like a change purse.
9) Pleat the edges about 5 times, pressing firmly to seal in the pleats.
10) Place on the prepared baking sheet, covering with a clean towel. Repeat with the rest of the wrappers. Make sure the dumplings do not touch each other or they will stick together.
You can freeze the dumplings now if you like. Freeze them right on the baking sheet. When they are frozen, remove them from the baking sheet and put them in a plastic zip lock bag.
To cook the dumplings:
1) Heat the remaining oil in a large NON-STICK skillet with a lid over medium high heat.
2) Add the dumplings to the skillet in a single layer and fry(uncovered) until golden brown-about 2 minutes. Now, holding the lid as a shield (it will spatter!!) add about ¼ C. of water to the skillet. Cover the skillet with the lid and reduce the heat to medium. Let cook until most of the water had evaporated-about 5-6 minutes, sliding the lid slightly off the pan about ½ way through cooking.
3) Remove the lid, flip the dumplings if you like and continue cooking until the bottoms are nice and crisp-about 3 minutes more. It is more traditional not to flip the dumplings, so they are brown only on one side, but I like them slightly brown on the second side-it’s really up to you.
4) Serve with the brownest side up with the dipping sauce.
Once you master these dumplings, you will make them often-they are addictive.