Dumpling wrappers (Recipe: shrimp potstickers)
Everything tastes better when it's served in a Japanese bento box. Fill each compartment with a different taste and texture, then put the lid on and pack for a picnic, indoors or outside. Welcome to Bento Week, Day One.
I have never, ever, walked out of an Asian market empty-handed.
Even when I manage to convince myself that there's no room in my pantry for more dried rice noodles or jugs of soy sauce, or even for my favorite chili paste with garlic, the cookware aisle draws me in.
And so it is that I am the proud owner of three small wooden rolling pins made specifically for rolling out dumpling wrappers.
Which, by the way, I have never, ever done.
Made primarily of wheat flour and water, round dumpling wrappers (also called siu mai or gyoza skins) are thinner than wonton skins (small squares) or eggroll wrappers (large squares or rectangles). They're meant to be stuffed, steamed, pan-fried, or cooked in soup, but not deep-fried -- you need the thicker wonton skins to stand up to the heat of deep frying.
Dumpling wrappers are easy to make, but I buy them fresh at my local Asian market. (While you're at the market, pick up a gyoza press -- mine cost one dollar each, much less than online.) You can find dumpling wrappers at many supermarkets, too, in the produce aisle.
Store the wrappers in the refrigerator for a few days, or in the freezer (defrost slowly, in the refrigerator). Fill your dumplings with any combination of homemade ingredients and store-bought condiments; try pre-packaged cole slaw vegetables (carrots and celery), mixed with shredded cooked chicken and some bottled peanut sauce.
When you do make dumplings, make extra and freeze them. You'll be glad to have them for a quick weeknight soup, elegant appetizer, or main course with a spicy dipping sauce.
And those little wooden rolling pins? They're great for rolling out cookie dough, too.
Make these vegetarian by omitting the shrimp and doubling the tofu. Freeze some before or after cooking. Makes 40 potstickers.
10 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled, finely chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 green chile (jalapeño, serrano, or Thai), seeded and minced
1 cup peeled and grated carrot (approx. 1 carrot)
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup firm or extra-firm tofu, patted dry, chopped into 1/8-inch squares
8 large cooked shrimp, chopped
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce
40 round fresh dumpling wrappers
1-2 Tbsp peanut oil
1 cup vegetable or low-sodium or homemade chicken stock
Put the dried mushrooms in a bowl, cover with warm water, and let soak for 30 minutes until softened. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and chop mushrooms finely.
Put the mushrooms in a large bowl and add cilantro, garlic, ginger, scallions, chiles, carrots, bell pepper, tofu and shrimp. Stir to combine.
In a small bowl, stir together peanut butter and soy sauce, and add to the vegetable mixture. Stir well to combine.
Put a dumpling wrapper on a dry work surface and put 1 level tablespoon of filling in the center. Brush the edge with water and fold into a half-moon shape, pleating one side 3-5 times as you go (or use a dumpling press). Place on a tray lined with wax paper, flattening the bottom of the dumpling as you do. Cover the tray with a damp cloth. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling, adding each to the tray. Keep the tray covered with the cloth until you're ready to cook.
Heat two large nonstick frying pans to medium-high heat, and brush each with 1 teaspoon of oil. Add as many dumplings as you can, flattened side down in a single layer, equally divided between the pans, without overcrowding. Saute for 2-3 minutes until browned on the bottom (do not flip them).
Mix the reserved mushroom liquid with the stock and, very carefully, pour half of it over the dumplings in the two pans, until part covered (use more if needed). Keep your distance -- when you add liquid to the pan, it will splatter. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover the pans, and cook 8-10 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the dumplings are a bit translucent.
More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Curried chicken wontons
Wonton skin soup
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I love a homemade potsticker wrapper! They have a different texture and consistency than the store bought. But when you have to fill dozens of potstickers, making the wrappers seems like more work than it should be. I am so looking forward to Bento Week. I love a beautiful Bento box!
Everything tastes even better when it is in someone else's bento box ;)
Thanks for the gyoza press info- so cute! I'll have to look for it.
Yum yum, beautiful, yum yum!
I love that you cook your pot stickers with stock instead of water. Brilliant!
Good suggestions, Lydia.
I had a lesson in making Chinese dumplings from scratch, but never tried it on my own. That was over 30 years ago. Now I buy packages of frozen dumplings ready to put in the frying pan -- my Chinese friends recommended a few drops of balsamic vinegar with the water for steaming them after they are browned.
Frozen dumplings are what I can't leave the Oriental grocery store without!
What a great photo of the bento box filled with delicious treats! I've made pot-stickers a few times at Christmas (when my sister makes the filling) but never on my own. I love the idea of making extra and freezing them! Look forward to more bento treats this week.
I love bento boxes!
I can't imagine why you'd need to use cooked shrimp in these -- since they're not only going to be sauteed, but also poached.
They look so delish I want potstickers right NOW. Oh how I miss living in San Francisco , with such treats on every corner.
My grandfather was a great cook and he never left the Asian market in our hometown without buying something. I haven't explored Asian cooking too much but pot-stickers sound like a good segue.
I love bento boxes!
I’ve used that small rolling pin for just about everything except dumpling wrappers, go figure. I’ve got to get a bento box, never thought of using it as a lunch box. I’m looking forward to the rest of the week to see what else I can put in my bento box.
I'm so bad about making asian food at home. This makes me want to try it.
Mimi, I agree that the taste of homemade and storebought cannot compare. But if I had to rely on making dumpling wrappers at home, I'd never make dumplings, wontons, gyoza, eggrolls -- all of which I love.
Nupur, the presses are inexpensive and easy to find in any Asian market with a cookware aisle. You can use them for savory dumplings (like samosas), or sweet dessert dumplings, too.
Julia, the mushroom soaking liquid really adds a lot of flavor.
Mae, thanks for the tip about balsamic. I'll try it.
Kalyn, I fill them and freeze them. Then, sometimes, I just take half a dozen frozen potstickers, put them in a bowl, and microwave for a couple of minutes. A drizzle of soy sauce or hoisin, and I eat them right from the bowl.
Maggie, you don't really need to use cooked shrimp, but many people feel safer with it. Either way, these are delicious.
Maris, Peabody: these are a great introduction to Asian cooking. The filling is easy to make, and doesn't use anything you can't find in the grocery store.
Kim, bento boxes are easy to find if you live in a community with Japanese markets
it's been ages since i made potstickers! and i agree things always taste better in a bento box!
I've often wondered what the difference between the wrappers was... I learn so much from each of your posts!
I...need..to make my own potstickers. I love them, gyoza or dumpling whatever they are simply delicious little morsels!
Meeta, I used to think that things tasted better in my Archie and Veronica lunch box when I was a kid, too.
Kristen, thanks so much. These are really easy to make, especially with a dumpling press.
Veron, I love them, too, and always like to keep a bag in my freezer.
love your blog!! can't wait to try these! keep up the great work!!! :)
Mmm, shrimp potstickers are my fav! Your blog is lovely, great photos.