I had bought some wonton wrappers on an impulse a few weeks ago and they had been silently mocking me from my refrigerator ever since. I had done my recipe research and decided that pork pot stickers – which I had never made before – were just the thing I needed. So when I set out for my errands yesterday, I sought out ground pork, cabbage, green onions, and fresh ginger. Ground pork was on the list, though perhaps not in the cards. Two grocery stores later (granted one was East Nashville’s Turnip Truck, a natural grocery) and I was left without ground pork. Now I live in Nashville – the pig is not exactly an alien creature down here – so clearly I shop at the wrong grocery stores.
Back at home and considering if it was worth the gas to go to a third grocery store, I remembered the frozen shrimp in my freezer. Suddenly the idea of shrimp pot stickers sounded great and I set out to find a recipe that would not require another trip to the grocery store. I found a recipe that would work from that doyenne of Asian cooking – Martha Stewart. Now I readily admit that this recipe was one where I left out or modified many ingredients I didn’t have, but in the end the filling tasted great. Perhaps it would have been even better if I had left in the cilantro (I’m not a big fan of cilantro, so I doubt it); if I had used real chili oil (olive oil and a pinch of chili powder worked fine); or if I had used a shallot (I used minced onion and with a bit of garlic and no one was the wiser).
I also realized I had stupidly bought rectangular wonton wrappers all those weeks before – Martha thinks that round ones are better. But I couldn’t have managed to do that signature wrinkle top on them, so really it was all for the best. I would note that I had to trim the rectangular wontons into squares so I could have perfect triangle pot stickers. But I saved the scraps and with the leftover ginger and green onions I figure I’ll make Asian flavored noodle soup next week.
Now cooking the pot stickers – this was where this entire experiment could fall apart. In theory, pot stickers are supposed to stick to the bottom of the pot and then release when you add water for the steaming. In reality, I would urge you to modify Martha once again. Don’t bother with the cast iron pot even if it’s perfectly seasoned. After one batch stuck a little too much to my cast iron pot – even after adding the steaming water – I switched to nonstick and they browned perfectly, released easily, and saved my sanity. Perhaps it was not exactly authentic – but then my pot stickers are inspired by Martha Stewart, so I’m not exactly worried about authenticity.
In the end, the pot stickers were a satisfying and unusual treat. As an added benefit, the recipe made a ton, so I have a freezer full of shrimp pot stickers and am looking forward to pulling them out the next time I’m craving something different.
Makes about 30.
- 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves ( I left this out)
- 1/2 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
- 1 large egg white
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chile oil, or 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil mixed with a pinch of cayenne/chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil ( I used toasted sesame oil)
- 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 3/4 cup finely chopped (about 2 ounces) Napa cabbage
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 small scallions, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon minced (about 1 small) shallot ( I used a combo of minced onion and garlic)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 package 3-inch round Chinese dumpling wrappers, available at large supermarkets
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon rice-wine vinegar
- 1 scallion, sliced
- Finely chop 1 tablespoon cilantro leaves. Set aside. Coarsely chop half of the shrimp by hand, and set aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine remaining shrimp, egg white, chile oil, sesame oil, and soy sauce. Puree into a smooth paste. Transfer to a medium bowl, add chopped cilantro, reserved chopped shrimp, carrot, cabbage, ginger, scallions, shallots, salt, and pepper, and mix well.
- Place 1 teaspoon of filling toward the front of a dumpling wrapper. There are two methods of sealing dumplings. Pleating one edge of the wrapper gives the dumpling its distinctive curved shape and allows it to stand upright in the pan. Do this by moistening edges with water using your finger. Bring the edges together, forming a taco shape, and pinch them together only in the top center to seal. Pinch 6 small pleats (3 on either side of the sealed center point) along one thickness only of the wrapper. Seal dumpling by pressing pleated and unpleated edges tightly together, enclosing filling. Alternatively, moisten wrapper edges with water, fold in half into a crescent shape around the filling, and pinch edges tightly closed. While forming dumplings, keep remaining wrappers covered with plastic wrap. Place filled dumplings on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and cover with plastic wrap.
- In a small serving bowl, whisk together ingredients for dipping sauce.
- Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in a well-seasoned 11-inch cast-iron skillet (or nonstick skillet) over medium-high heat for 1 to 2 minutes. Arrange half of the dumplings tightly together in heated skillet, and cook until deep golden brown, shaking the pan one or two times, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 cup hot water, partially cover, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook until the bottoms of the dumplings are very crisp and all the water has evaporated, about 4 to 5 more minutes. Slide a spatula under dumplings to loosen them from the pan. Serve this batch of dumplings immediately or place them on a baking sheet, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and keep warm in a low oven. Wash skillet, and repeat process with remaining dumplings. Transfer to a plate, garnish with remaining cilantro leaves, and serve with dipping sauce.