Pot stickers, known as guotie in Chinese or gyoza in Japanese, are my favorite type of dumplings second only to xiao long bao, of course! I recently had the opportunity to learn how to make them, particularly the tricky art of correctly folding the seams, when I visited my friend Tehlin in Hong Kong.
Tehlin and I went to university together. Of Chinese heritage by way of the Philippines, she has tried to teach me how to make pot stickers on previous visits but my fingers were to clumsy or my patience too thin. This time, though, I overcame the obstacles and learned how to turn out a proper pot sticker.
To make the filling, you use fresh ground pork and, if you like, chopped shrimp meat. Finely chop Napa cabbage, mushrooms, and a small amount of garlic.
Once the vegetables are chopped, add a teaspoon of salt to the cabbage, stir it, and let it sit for a few minutes. This will draw the water out from the cabbage.
After the water has been drawn out, squeeze the cabbage and then add it to the mushroom, garlic, and meat mixture.
Mix well, seasoning with some soy sauce, sesame oil, and ground white pepper. If I understand the proportions correctly, about 1 kg (2 pounds) of meat will make about 100 pot stickers.
The hardest thing for me to comprehend and do was to correctly seal and fold the seams. While I finally figured it out, I’m still quite clumsy about the process. First, place about a tablespoon of filling in the middle of a wrapper. We bought them premade from the local noodle vendor. Wipe the edges with water then hold like a taco. Start by pinching one end.
Then, using your index fingers, create a flap about one-quarter of the way across the edge of the dumpling. The flap will fold over towards the already sealed end of the dumpling and is then pinched closed. Make another flap about half way across the edge of the dumpling, folding it over and pinching, too.
A final flap is made about three quarters of the way across the edge of the dumpling. After is it folded and pinched, the unsealed end is pinched together. It looks so easy when Tehlin does it, just a blur of dumpling origami.
Me trying it was another matter. Ultimately, I found it easier to set the wrapper on the table after making the first pinch, instead of trying to hold it in my hand. After a few rough starts, I got the hang of it.
We soon filled two trays, a mixture of Tehlin’s beautiful pot stickers and my less consistent ones. Nonetheless, they turned out looking pretty good and I look forward to making some back at home. Oh, and they tasted great, too.