Sunday, November 14, 2010


About ten years ago, my roommates and I were involved in a cooking extravaganza. Every dinner we made, every party we threw, was an elaborate array of dishes, around which we arranged to invite and impress our nine friends. Let's be honest, the parties were for us, not for them.

At random moments, I'll remember something ridiculous we cooked. Ridiculous because it was incredibly complex for a party full of 22 year olds who would be happy with a keg and a bag of Ruffles. Deep fried ravioli, grilled pineapple soaked in rum, a fruit salad in a watermelon half, marbled cheesecake squares (yes that does mean making two types of cheesecake batter), and who could forget our "authentic" Chinese New Year meal?

Using a fabulous cookbook called the China Moon Cookbook which taught us how to make our own hot chili oil, we slaved over egg rolls and hot and sour soup. But the best thing about learning to make Chinese food was finding out how easy it was to make our own potstickers.

Potstickers or dumplings or gyoza - whatever you want to call them - are the most pleasing little packaged food. With a lovely, chewy wontonny wrapper and a gingery garlic filling, a potsticker is hardly any more trouble than mixing up a batch of meatballs. Pork is a popular filling, but I'm a fan of ground chicken too. The best part of potstickers is how easy it is to cook them, but you have to do it the right way or they will be potstuck.

Lemongrass Chicken Potstickers (Food and Wine)

1 lb ground chicken
1 cup finely shredded napa cabbage
1/4 chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons finely grated lemongrass
2 tablespoons snipped chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 minced garlic clove
1 beaten egg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
wonton wrappers
peanut oil

Mix all ingredients, kneading into the ground chicken. Fill a small bowl with water. Wet your finger and rub it around the edges of the wonton wrapper. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. Lift the sides and press together. I keep it simple by making triangles but you can also crimp the edges or something fancier. It can take some time to fill all the wontons, but just plop yourself in front of the tv while you do it.

When your potstickers are ready, heat two tablespoons of peanut oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Fill the pan with potstickers with their pleated edges up and cook until the bottoms are lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water and cover, reducing heat to medium. Finish the potstickers by steaming them in the pan for five minutes until filling is cooked through and water has evaporated. Uncover and brown the bottoms another 1 minute. Transfer to plate and repeat with any remaining potstickers.

You can also freeze extra potstickers. Placed them on a sheet of parchment on a baking sheet that fits in the freezer. Freeze separately, then put in a zip lock bag and store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Cook the same way from frozen.

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