Monday, February 04, 2008

Bastardization of Chinatown's Finest

Instead of sentencing them to a lifetime of freezer burn, I decided to use some leftover wonton wrappers to cook homemade pot stickers in hopes of duplicating the Chinatown Dumpling Shop-style treat. Although nothing compares to those Lower Manhattan classics (especially in the speed of preparation department), this recipe was close in my estimate. You'll need:

1 lbs Ground Pork
1/2 lbs Shiitake Mushrooms diced
3 Cloves of Garlic minced
3 Scallions chopped (both white and green bits)
1 bunch Cilantro
1 tbsp Chili Sauce
3 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Ginger Paste
Dash of Sesame Oil
One package of defrosted Gyoza Wrappers (roughly 50)
1 Egg beaten

Add a light oil (I used vegetable) to a heavy pan and saute mushrooms for a few minutes until they start to take on color, then add garlic. Make sure to keep at a medium to medium low temperature so the garlic does not burn and turn bitter. Add salt and pepper and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.

While mushrooms continue to soften, whisk together chili sauce, soy, hoisin, ginger paste and sesame oil in a separate bowl. Taste to check the levels of flavor and adjust to your preference. Then, double the sauce in volume with water and whisk to combine. Increase pan to high heat and add liquid to the mushroom mixture. Simmer and stir until the liquid has absorbed, leaving plump little shrooms and little excess sauce. Set aside to cool. In another bowl, combine the uncooked pork, scallions and cilantro. When mushrooms have cooled down, add to pork and incorporate all the ingredients along with more salt and pepper. Using your hands is the best way to make sure all of the ingredients will make it into every dumpling.

Add a small dollop of the pork mixture (careful not to over stuff, as you need room for a tight seal around the edge) to the center of the wonton wrappers. Line the outside of the filling with the beaten egg all the way to the edges. With your hands, gently not to rip the covering wonton wrapper, stretch the dough in a circular motion to create a slightly bigger wrapper to cover the filling. Place over the top. Create a seal with fingers around the entire dumping ensuring the two wrappers are pinched tightly at the edge and no excess air is left inside. This is a very important step so your finished product won't inflate and/or blow up in the cooking process.

In a non-stick pan, add oil and bring to medium high heat. Add dumplings flat side down making sure not to overcrowd. My pan held 7-9 comfortably. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until a brown crust has formed on the bottom. Feel free to shimmy them around to prevent them sticking to each other or the pan. Flip dumplings to the other side, add a 1/2 cup of water, and immediately cover with a tight fitting lid. Be quick with the lid and watch for splashing when you add the water to whatever hot oil might be left in the pan. The water will steam the dumplings and should completely cook out within 4 minutes (keep an eye on it, but try not to remove lid too often, as it slows down cooking). Don't be afraid to add more water and recover if the meat is not completely cooked through. When water is gone, cook with the top off at a low heat for an additional minute, or until the bottom (what started off as the top) is browned and crisp. Remove to a paper towel to drain excess oil.

A simple, but kick-ass dipping sauce for the dumplings uses the same sauce that went onto the mushroom mixture, minus the water, and add the juice of one lime. Whisk and serve in a side bowl.

Forks can be used to cut the finished product into manageable pieces, but I found the best way to inhale these bad boys was use chop sticks and shovel down the whole thing in one bite. Enjoy....

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