Yuchi Chang shares interesting stories and recipes from East Asian cuisine. She's learning to be a chemical engineer in her kitchen.
I Love Potstickers!
Potstickers, also known as steam-fried dumplings or jiaozi, are a popular food in Taiwan. Increasingly, they are gaining popularity in many other parts of the world, as well.
When I was a kid, I would have 10 potstickers for breakfast, and then maybe have five more as an after-school snack. Taiwanese people love their potstickers; there are over 10,000 chain dumpling restaurants on the island—and this number doesn't include the street food stands and privately owned restaurants. If you travel to Taiwan, you'll see dumpling restaurants everywhere, even in the microwave food section of the 7-11 shops!
Dumplings are composed of two parts: the wrapper and the filling. I understand that it isn't easy to get dumpling wrappers in the United States, and even if you do, they may not be fresh. In this article, I will share a recipe for easy homemade wrappers. As far as the filling, I will give you a recipe for the most common flavor, as well as three variations that reflect the latest trends in Taiwan.
|Prep time||Cook time||Ready in||Yields|
1 hour 10 min
1 hour 40 min
Step 1: Make the Wrappers
The first step is to make the wrappers. Some people might be intimidated by this process, but it's easier than you might think.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or low-protein flour, gluten-free flour, or soft wheat flour)
- 1 pinch salt (This adds a bit of flavor to the wrapper. Don't add too much; 1-2 grams is enough.)
- 1 cup water between 140°F–158°F (The higher the temperature, the more elastic the dough will be, which makes it easier to shape.)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- In a bowl, mix the flour and salt. Then add the water and oil.
- Shape the dough into a ball and knead it for at least 5 minutes until it is smooth.
- Set the dough aside at room temperature to rest for 30 minutes.
While we are waiting, we will prepare the filling.
Step 2: Dehydrate the Cabbage
Cabbage is the soul of any dumpling filling. It adds a natural sweetness and it balances the fat from the pork. You might wonder why we need to dehydrate it, and the answer is that we need to remove a lot of the water that occurs naturally inside this vegetable.
- 1 head cabbage
- 1 tablespoon salt
- Cut the cabbage in half and then quarter it. Remove the stem.
- Chop the cabbage into small pieces (3 x 3 millimeters). The smaller the pieces, the better it will mix into the pork filling. A typical cabbage, say 5.5 to 6 ounces, should take you about 10 to 20 minutes to process.
- Put all of the chopped cabbage in a bowl and add the salt. Mix well.
- Set aside for 10 minutes until the cabbage starts to wilt. Salt draws water out of cells via the process of osmosis.
- Squeeze the cabbage in your hands to remove more water. Set aside.
Step 3: Make the Filling
The next step is to make the filling for the potstickers, which means you need to choose which one you want to make! First I'll give you the ingredient list for the traditional version (pork and cabbage), and then I'll tell you how to tweak the recipe for a few fun variations.
Traditional Taiwanese Filling: Pork and Cabbage
This is most common and traditional filling for Taiwanese potstickers.
- 300 grams / 11 ounces dehydrated cabbage (see instructions above)
- 400 grams / 0.9 ounces seasoned ground pork (see instructions below)
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 160 milliliters water
- 4 pinches white pepper powder
- 2 teaspoons white sesame oil
- 1 tablespoons soy sauce
- 10 grams / 0.35 ounces ground ginger
- 40 grams / 1.4 ounces finely chopped green onion
Pork, Cabbage, and Sweet Corn
To the traditional pork and cabbage recipe above, add 100 grams (3.5 ounces) sweet corn kernels.
Kids love this version. My 3-year-old niece once ate 10 of them and then asked for more. This is one of the most popular styles in Taiwan.
Pork, Cabbage, and Shrimp or Scallop
To the traditional pork and cabbage recipe above, add 100 grams (3.5 ounces) chopped shrimp or scallops.
My preference is for white shrimp. Either way, the seafood brings out a sweetness that enhances the general umami flavor.
Pork, Cabbage, and Korean Spicy Kimchi
For this version, the quantity of the dehydrated cabbage is lowered because the kimchi contains cabbage, as well. Everything else remains the same.
- 140 grams / 5 ounces dehydrated cabbage
- 160 grams / 5.5 ounces chopped spicy kimchi, dehydrated
Posticker Fillings: Traditional, Trendy, and DIY
As I said above, the most common and traditional filling for Taiwanese potstickers is a combination of ground pork and cabbage. Probably the second-most common local style is chopped chives mixed with ground pork.
One recent trend I've spotted in local restaurants is a vegetarian dumpling for people who wish to decrease the amount of meat they're eating. The filling is composed of cabbage, carrot, Chinese mushroom, and omnipork (a plant-based protein).
The latest local trend that I've seen in the last five years in Taiwan is the kimchi potsticker. This trend emerged as K-pop has become popular and influenced nearby countries with its quality music, movies, and TV dramas. There was a period of my life when I was crazy about K-pop, and I grew to enjoy kimchi potstickers as well.
By the way, you are free to create your own recipes for dumpling fillings! For example, when I travel to the United States for work, I make a shortcut filling out of seasoned Italian sausage. This is one of the reasons I never get tired of making potstickers—because you can always innovate and create something new.
Filling Instructions (Plus Secret Tip for Moist Pork)
Whichever filling you choose, follow the instructions below. In order to make the ground pork moist and tender, I will show you a commonly employed technique that involves slowly infusing the pork with water (or stock). My family uses this technique when making fillings for potstickers or baozi (steamed buns).
- In a large bowl, add the ground pork and salt. Mix well.
- With a pair of chopsticks or a fork, slowly add water into the bowl in several stages (5 to 8 times). The perfect percentage of ground pork to water (or stock) is 5:2. Swirl the ground pork and let it absorb the water until you can't see it anymore. The ground pork should stick together and become a bit slimy.
- Season the ground pork by gently mixing in the rest of the ingredients listed above (white pepper, sesame oil, soy sauce, ground ginger, and green onion).
Step 4: Make a Potsticker Assembly Line
My years of experiences have taught me that the best way to make potstickers is with an assembly line. If you do this, you can make large quantities in a short amount of time.
What You'll Need
- 1/2 to 1 cup flour, for dusting
- Rolling pin
- Divide the dough into four portions. Take one portion and roll it out to a thickness of about 1 millimeter. The thinner the dough, the shorter the cook time.
- Cut the dough into many rectangular wrappers (refer to the photo above). The size of each wrapper should be about 2.5 x 1.5 inches, though you can adjust the shape and/or size to best fit in your skillet.
- Place a moderate amount of filling in the center of each rectangular wrapper.
- Close the dumpling by folding the wrapper, leaving the two ends open. We leave the two ends open to let the steam go in and shorten the cooking time.
Step 5: Cook the Potstickers
Now it's time to cook the potstickers. Are you ready?
What You'll Need
- Nonstick pan or stainless steel skillet
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cooking oil + more for cooking
- 200 milliliters water
- 5 grams cornstarch
- Preheat the pan or skillet over medium-high heat for 3 minutes, then turn the heat to low.
- Wipe the pan with a little bit of cooking oil (1 to 2 milliliters) so the wrappers won't stick.
- Place the dumplings on the pan side by side (refer to photo).
- In a bowl, mix the water, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil, and cornstarch. Pour the mixture on top of the dumplings, making sure each one is soaked. Note: The amount of water required depends on the number of dumplings in the pan (see the photo for reference). We need enough water to generate hot steam, but not too much! Excess water will cause wet wrappers and the potstickers won't cook properly.
- Increase the heat to medium-high for 3 to 5 minutes. This is where the water will start to boil and generate steam. Cover the pan with a lid to keep the steam inside. If you don't have a lid, you can cover it with another skillet.
- Open the lid and check the volume of water. Decrease the heat to low and wait until the water is gone. The oil left in the pan will start to fry the dumplings. You will hear them sizzling (a wonderful sound), and you will start to see a crispy lattice coating forming on the bottom of the pan. Watch out, don't overcook them!
How to Tell When the Potstickers Are Done
- The color of the wrappers changes.
- The wrappers form wrinkles.
- The wrappers become slightly translucent so that you can start to see the filling inside.
- A crispy, brown lattice coating will form on the bottom of the pan.
Step 6: Make a Dipping Sauce
Potstickers taste great on their own, but they're even better with a dipping sauce. This dipping sauce features some of the same seasonings we used in the filling, but the overall effect is sweet and sour.
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon vinegar (any kind, though rice vinegar is a traditional choice)
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 10 grams / 0.35 ounces fresh chopped or mashed garlic (optional)
- 10 grams / 0.35 ounces chopped chilli pepper (optional)
- A few drops white sesame oil
- In a bowl, mix all of the ingredients together.
- Serve with fresh pan-fried potstickers.
© 2020 Yuchi Chang
Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on July 15, 2020:
What a great article! So well thought out and detailed with great photos. I love Potstickers and hope to try these some day.