That's right, folks! I've decided that I've got too much free time on my hands, so I'm giving some of it to The Daring Kitchen! I've heard about this group for a while and finally decided to join so I could build my arsenal of skills and challenge myself. The Daring Bakers have been around quite a while, and The Daring Cooks officially kicked off in May with their first recipe. The two groups are linked together under The Daring Kitchen. This is the second Daring Cooks challenge and I'm so excited that I got to challenge myself and participate in a new group as well.
This month's challenge was picked by Jen of Use Real Butter. Jen's been making potstickers her whole life and was kind enough to share a family recipe with the rest of the interwebs.
This was a great challenge (challenge being the operative word here), and I learned that when it comes to potstickers, my pleating skills are woefully lacking.
Potstickers (or Chinese Dumplings)
1 lb. ground beef
4 large napa cabbage leaves, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. bamboo shoots, minced
1/2 c. water chestnuts, minced
1/2 c. shiitake mushrooms, minced
1 red onion, minced
3 T. soy sauce
2 T. sesame oil
2 T. corn starch
2 c. flour
1/2 c. warm water
Flour, for dusting
To make the dough, dump the flour into your food processor fitted with the dough/mixing blade. Turn the food processor on and slowly but constantly add the water until it's incorporated. Pour dough into a glass bowl and knead until smooth. The dough should NOT be sticky, but rather soft or silky to touch and firm.
Knead the dough "about 20 strokes", according to Jen and cover with a damp paper towel for 15-20 minutes. Remove damp towel from dough, form a flattened dome, and cut the dough into strips about 1 1/2 or 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into long snakes of dough; make sure they're round! On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces and press them down with the palm of your hand. Using a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each dough disk. The center of each disk should be slightly thicker than the edges.
For the filling, pour all ingredients into a bowl and mix well. Mixture should hold together on its own and not fall apart. If mixture is (for whatever reason) add more corn starch in small amounts until mixture is binding well.
Drop 1 T. of filling into the center of each wrapper. Pinch the wrapper together at the top and pleat. Pinch in teardrop shaped ends. (Note: dough is perfect thickness if you can just see the filling through the wrapper, but not so thin that the wrapper will burst during cooking.)
To cook, steam them on a lightly greased surface and steam for 6-7 minutes.
Pour 3 T. vegetable oil into a medium frying pan and heat over high. Add dumplings to pan and fry 3-4 minutes until bottoms are golden brown. Add 1/2 c. of water to pan (stand back from the pan, add all the water at once, and make sure you're wearing an oven mitt!) and cover pan. Cook until the water has boiled away, then remove cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook potstickers 2 more minutes and remove from heat and serve.
- I didn't include any notes on pleating because my technique clearly sucks. Visit this link to get Jen's tips on pleating and pinching.
- To quote Jen, "There is an ungodly amount of prep involved." Uh, yeah. EVERYTHING needs to be minced, and not sloppy minced. Everything needs to be minced finely, so be prepared to stand at your counter and chop chop chop!
- My dough was a bit sticky, and I added water in 1 T. amounts to fix it, and it worked okay. I was feeling a bit pressed for time and was worried I'd add too much water and have to add more flour and it would end up being a constant battle for the dough. It worked okay. It will dry out a bit if you don't keep it covered.
- I found out after I completed the challenge that there are nifty little dumpling presses you can buy in Chinatown, and they'll even make the pleats for you! Kinda wish I'd known about that before...
- These are really easy to customize. I used Jen's traditional recipe as a guide, but I saw that other Daring Cooks members made dessert dumplings, or Italian-style dumplings. Very cool.
- I was a bit wary of the recipe because it didn't call for browning any of the meat before binding it together, but these cooked quickly and completely for both methods! Graham didn't have any complaints about his steamed dumplings, and I loved my crispy-bottomed potstickers. The beef was totally done and I was actually pleased with myself for using my steamer for something besides vegetables.