Pot Stickers

Pot stickers are pan-fried dumplings, one of the Chinese varieties of savory small filled appetizers. The name comes from the fact that the crisp bottoms of the dumplings tend to stick to each other and to the frying pan, and thus you need to use a spatula to carefully remove them from the pan. The trick is to use the right length of time initially to fry them, the right amount of steaming liquid, and the right length of time to evaporate the liquid so that the dumplings stick to each other and to the pan but don't end up burned or as a soggy mess.

You can make your own wrappers for these, which I've done when I cannot find kosher wonton skins, but the store-bought wrappers work quite well. I've used both the square and round wrappers, perhaps untraditionally, but both work well. The timing of pot stickers is also critical. Before you begin the process, set the table, prepare the remaining dishes for the meal, and then begin.


Dipping Sauce

Sauté onions and ginger/garlic in 2 T. oil. Add the mushrooms and stir. Add cabbage, carrots, and scallions. When the mixture is soft, remove from heat and put in a colander to drain. Add the pepper, sesame oil and soy sauce.

Mix the dipping sauce ingredients and put aside. You won't have time to mix this later because the frying and steaming of the pot stickers takes your complete attention. You should also have an attractive serving plate ready and warn the family that they have about 10 minutes before these are ready. Pot stickers are best eaten immediately upon completion.

In one hand, put a single wrapper. Put a rounded spoonful of filling in the wrapper. Make triangular or half-moon (if you are using circular wrappers) pocket shaped dumplings and pleat the closure to form a curve, closing with a bit of water. As you are forming dumplings, place on a plate coated with corn starch to keep them dry.

Heat a large frying pan until it is hot enough to evaporate a bead of water on contact. Add 1-2 T. canola oil, and place dumplings in so that they are touching each other. Cook over high heat until the bottoms of the dumplings are very brown but not burned. Carefully add 1/2 cup of stock to the pan, pouring around the edges. The pan will almost "explode" with steam and sizzling, but this is what you need. Lower the heat to low, and cover the pan tightly to steam the dumplings. Carefully watch to completely evaporate the stock, brown the dumplings, but stop before they burn, about 5 minutes. With the help of a spatula, remove immediately to a large round plate, and serve with the dipping sauce.

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