The first day of the Chinese New Year is Jan. 28, and we’ll welcome the Year of the Rooster. The delicious little dumplings called potstickers are a traditional food this time of year because, according to chef Katie Chin, they resemble gold ingots and symbolize wealth.
Chin, L.A.-based cookbook author, food blogger, TV personality and mom of 8-year-old twins, also points out that in Chinese culture, food is served family style and meant to be shared. “I think in a lot of cultures, and especially Chinese American culture, food is an expression of love,” she says. “I also think that food is storytelling from one generation to the next.”
Chin’s kids, Dylan and Becca, started making potstickers with her mom when they were 3 years old, and Chin advises parents to let yours get creative in shaping the dumplings. “No matter how they look, they’re going to taste delicious,” she says.
Potsticker wrappers can be found in most grocery stores, and Chin says covering them with a damp paper towel once you open the package will help them stay pliable. She advises home cooks to keep the wrappers moist, press firmly when making the pleats and be patient.
A bonus with these is that parents can sneak in some sautéed spinach, leftover roast chicken, shredded carrots or other leftovers from the refrigerator. You can even make a double recipe of filling and freeze half of the filling and the wrappers for another meal.
Potstickers from Katie Chin’s “Everyday Chinese Cookbook”
Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer or snack
Preparation time: 20 minutes, Cooking time: 10 minutes
For the potstickers:
4 oz (100 g) napa cabbage, cut into thin strips
1½ teaspoons salt, divided
8 oz (250 g) ground pork or chicken
2 tablespoons ﬁnely chopped green onion (scallion), white and green parts
2 teaspoons dry white wine
½ teaspoon all-purpose cornstarch
½ teaspoon dark sesame oil
Dash of white pepper
20 to 30 potsticker wrappers
2 to 4 tablespoons oil for frying
For the dipping sauce
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
½ teaspoon sugar
Toss the cabbage with 1 teaspoon of the salt and set aside for 5 minutes, then roll the cabbage up in a clean, dry dish towel. Twist the dish towel to squeeze out the excess moisture.
In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, pork or chicken, green onion, wine, cornstarch, sesame oil, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and the pepper.
Lay a potsticker wrapper on a clean work surface. Place 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture in the center. Lift up the edges of the circle and pinch several pleats up to create a pouch encasing the mixture. Pinch the top together. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and ﬁlling.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil for frying in a wok or skillet over moderately high heat. Place 12 dumplings in a single layer in the wok or skillet and fry 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. Add ½ cup (125 ml) water.
Cover and cook for 6 to 7 minutes, or until the water is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.
Make the dipping sauce: Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Serve alongside the dumplings.