Gretchen’s table: Pork pot stickers with soy-garlic dipping sauce

Pot stickers (

By Gretchen McKay, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“I hate dumplings,” said no one, ever.

Pierogies, ravioli, wontons — we all love plump and tender dough pockets stuffed with juicy, flavorful fillings.

Which is why when my freezer suddenly went on the fritz, and I had to very quickly decide what to do with all the half-frozen meat and bags of vegetables suddenly on my kitchen counter, pot stickers immediately came to mind.

A toothsome marriage of crispy (on the outside) and tender (on the inside), pot stickers can be filled with just about anything. They’re also easy to make, requiring just a frying pan and tight-fitting lid to first fry and then steam the dumplings, which also are known as gyoza in Japanese cuisine.

Best of all they’re fun to eat. Or should we say gobble because that’s how they usually go down in just one or two bites after a quick dunk in a soy sauce-based dipping sauce.

Homemade wrappers are incredibly easy to make with just flour and water, a rolling pin and nimble fingers; easier still is stuffing the filling into commercially prepared dumpling skins or wonton wrappers. This recipe features a succulent pork filling made with ground-up boneless pork chops, fresh ginger, garlic and mixed vegetables.

You can find chili oil with crunchy garlic — a popular and incredibly addictive Japanese condiment — at Asian markets like Lotus Foods in the Strip District and also on Amazon. It’s a bit pricy, but so worth it; you’ll want to slather it on just about everything.

Pork pot stickers

Makes 20 pot stickers

For wrappers

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup hot water (between 110 and 120 degrees)
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For filling

  • 1 cup ground pork chops
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch knob fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green onions
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables, thawed

For dipping sauce

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon minced scallion
  • 1 heaping teaspoon chili oil with crunchy garlic

1. Make dough: Place flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Slowly pour in hot water, mixing with a wooden spoon as you go, until it forms a shaggy dough. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and with lightly floured hands, knead dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. (If dough is too sticky, add a little more flour. If it’s too dry, add water by the teaspoon.) Wrap dough ball in plastic, and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

2. Make filling: Place ground pork, garlic, ginger, green onions, soy sauce and sesame oil in a large bowl, and mix with a fork to combine. Fold in mixed vegetables. Cover bowl with plastic, and refrigerate filling until chilled, about 30 minutes.

3. Make dipping sauce: In small bowl, stir together soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, scallion and chili oil until well combined; set aside.

4. Roll out dumpling wrappers: Divide dough into 20 pieces and roll each into a ball. Flatten a ball with the heel of your hand, then use a rolling pin to roll it out as you would a pie crust into a small circle, rotating the dough 90 degrees as you go along. Continue rolling and rotating until the dough is about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Use the dumpling wrappers right away or dust each with a little cornstarch or tapioca starch before stacking, wrapping in plastic and placing in the refrigerator. Otherwise, they’ll stick together.

5. Assemble pot stickers: Place a wrapper in the palm of your nondominant hand, and fill in the center with a heaping teaspoon of the pork mixture. Dip your finger in a bowl of water and moisten the wrapper around the outer edge until it’s wet all around. Fold wrapper in half, and seal the edges.

6. Using your right thumb and index finger, start making a pleat about once every 1/4 inch on the top part of the wrapper from the center toward the right. Continue with the left side of the wrapper.

7. Plump the dumpling with your fingers, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (the bottom will flatten slightly, but that’s OK.) Cover the dumplings with a damp paper towel while you’re folding the remaining dumplings so they don’t dry out. Repeat until you run out of the filling or wrappers.

8. Cook pot stickers: Heat 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Place about 6 or 7 pot stickers in the hot oil, flat side down. Cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add about 1/3 cup of water to pan and quickly cover the pan; steam for 3 minutes. Uncover, then reduce heat to medium. Continue cooking until water evaporates and bottoms are browned and crunchy, 1 or 2 minutes.

9. Transfer pot stickers to a warm serving dish. Repeat with remaining pot stickers. Serve with dipping sauce.

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