One of my luckier food moments was to be invited into the home of a classmate from China for a day of making dumplings. They were absolutely so good and she made it look easy, ground pork mixed with finely chopped cabbage (and green onions and ginger IIRC) and she so quickly and expertly folded and pleated the wrappers around the filling. Then when we ran out of store-bought wrappers she quickly made dough and rolled out many more wrappers. Finally we ate bowls full of freshly boiled dumplings with some sort of dark (black?) vinegar. So so good and my orange-cranberry bread that I brought just didn’t compare.
One of the things that I thought of making when I was racking my brain trying to come up with uses for all the napa cabbage in the fridge was potstickers (or um, dumplings – they sort of get lumped together in my white-girl brain). Of course we don’t eat meat now so I stared looking around for a new recipe. I grabbed my binder of recipes and looked for that vegetarian potsticker recipe I found online in like 10 years ago, I checked Vegetarian Times, Epicurious and Martha (each had a few recipes, I consulted this VT recipe a couple times during the process). I dug up a saved online newspaper article (from my days of clunkily saving the entire html page). And then I made up this recipe.
I cooked the first 20 potstickers right after wrapping them, because it was lunchtime and I was hungry (as was my guest). Then I froze the remaining 40 for other days. Of course my wrapping skills are pretty rudimentary (I forgot to check out that youtube video from the Mark Bittman recipe) so I went straight to the frying pan, fearing that if I boiled these as dumplings they would just fall apart on me. I eat my potstickers with a mixture of soy sauce, water and rice vinegar, and some sort of heat (either cayenne or sriracha) freshly grated ginger is also great in the sauce but I had put the last of my ginger in the filling.
- ~ 6 cups chopped napa cabbage, finely chopped in food processor (it was about 1/2 of my 12 oz cabbage)
- ~ 14 oz tofu, pressed for several hours between towels and then finely diced
- ~ 1/2 lb. shitake mushrooms, stemmed & finely chopped in food processor
- ~ 2-3″ piece ginger, peeled, chunked and finely chopped in food processor
- ~ 1 bunch green onions, cut into chunks and finely chopped in food processor
- 2 T soy sauce
- 1 T water*
- 2 t toasted sesame oil
- dumpling wrappers (my package had 60 round wrappers)
As I was prepping my individual ingredients I was aiming for almost half cabbage and half tofu and shitakes. Mix everything together in a big bowl and set aside (for me it was overnight). The mixture was a little watery so I transferred it to a fine-mesh strainer and pressed out a some liquid. I filled each wrapper with 1-2 teaspoons of filling, the filling itself did not cling together and so I erred on the side of underfilling; if you overfill the wrapper you make pinching it closed very difficult. I placed each filled, uncooked potsticker on a wax paper covered cookie sheet. Once I was ready to freeze them I simply put the cookie sheet in the freezer for an hour, once they were frozen I transferred them to a plastic freezer bag.
To cook the unfrozen potstickers I heated up some oil in my large skillet, placed the potstickers flat side down (pleated seam up) in the pan and let them brown for a couple minutes, then I added a few tablespoons of water and quickly covered them. After about 4 minutes I had to add more water (maybe I didn’t add enough initially) to help dislodge some stuck potstickers – I let them cook for probably 8 minutes total and then served them with my homemade dipping sauce. I imagine I will try a similar approach straight from the freezer next time.