You may never get takeout Chinese dumplings again after learning how easy they are to make yourself and stash in the freezer for easy appetizers and quick dinners.
I made up a batch for the Firefly birthday party, as part of our Asian feast. Someone well-schooled in the art of making dumplings would probably cringe at my technique, but the recipe is, at least, authentic. It comes from a cookbook my parents picked up in Hong Kong when we lived in the Philippines, called Chinese Snacks. It's written in actual Chinese, so I am assuming it's authentic, at least. I can, however, guarantee that it's a delicious recipe.
Combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl, and cover while making the dumpling wrappers.
In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Slowly add the hot water to the flour in 1/4 cup increments. Mix with a wooden spoon (the recipe actually calls for chopsticks) until a ball of dough is formed. As soon as the dough has cooled enough to handle, knead on a floured surface until it turns into a smooth, elastic dough ball.
Sure, you could use pre-packaged dumpling wrappers instead. The dumplings will still be delicious. But man oh man, homemade dumpling wrappers take these potstickers to another level entirely. I think it's worth the extra effort.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a long, 1" diameter rope. Cut small pieces (maybe 3/4" long), and roll out into a thin circle. The dumpling wrapper should be about 3" in diameter.
Place a small mound of filling in the middle of the wrapper. Be careful not to let the edges of the wrapper touch the filling, as this will keep the edges from sealing properly, and will end up making a big (though tasty) mess when you're trying to cook the dumplings.
Gently fold the wrapper in half, dabbing the edges with water, and pinching to seal the dumpling completely. The dumplings can be cooked immediately, or they can be frozen at this stage. If you're going to freeze your dumplings, place them on a sheet pan, and don't let them touch. They must freeze individually. If you need to do more than one layer, use parchment to separate them.
Once the dumplings have completely frozen, you can put them in a freezer bag for use later.
The dumplings are cooked the same way, no matter if they're cooked immediately or frozen first. Heat up oil in the bottom of a nonstick skillet. Place potstickers in the skillet and cook over medium heat until they're golden brown on the bottom. Add one cup of water, and cover the skillet with a lid. Let cook for five minutes. Remove the lid, and cook until the remainder of the water evaporates, and the dumplings crisp up again on the bottom.
Eat and enjoy! After learning how to make these lovelies, there's only one place in town where I bother ordering dumplings--a place that makes their own noodles and dumpling skins. We almost always have a bag in the freezer for a quick dinner option that even my husband can handle cooking. (His one claim to culinary fame is a really amazing grilled cheese sandwich.)
You can serve these with plain soy sauce, or whip up an easy dipping sauce with equal parts soy sauce and rice wine vinegar, a bit of sesame oil, and some green onions for garnish.
Do you have a favorite make-ahead appetizer or freezer meal? I'm always looking for new recipes to add to my repertoire.