Monday, 10 March 2014

Craving some Potstickers

I was first introduced to the delicacy that is the potsticker dumpling many years ago by my parents-in-law. They buy theirs from a local Chinese take-away and usually pick some up as a special treat to go with pre-dinner drinks. Unlike other steamed dumplings, the potsticker is fried first until the bottom is golden brown, then steamed. This results in a dumpling which combines a moist, flavourful filling with a partially crusty exterior. 

Intensive research soon revealed, however, that my own local takeaways offer a rather predictable range of appetisers: sticky ribs and spring rolls were in abundance but the potsticker remained elusive. I set about making my own and was surprised to find that the wrappers are made from a simple hot water dough, while the possibilities for fillings are endless. Pork mince is traditional, though I have made vegetarian options with cabbage and chestnut mushrooms. I like to keep a bag of frozen prawns in the freezer and these are my favourite filling, although crab is also excellent. I must confess to using tinned crab on occasion which is inexpensive and extremely handy to keep stored in the larder. 

Lidl were stocking frozen lobster over the Christmas period and although I have since thrown out the receipt, I think they were between €5-6. I was suspicious of the low cost but picked up a couple anyway. They are Canadian lobsters and extremely small. The taste of the first one I tried was perhaps better than expected but it yielded a very small quantity of meat. I made lobster cannelloni with sauce Am√©ricaine and rocket leaves and this comfortably served two people. 

Yesterday evening I was seized with a craving for potsticker dumplings so I decided to use up the remaining Lidl lobster. These come pre-cooked so once it was defrosted, I placed the lobster meat in the food processor along with some freshly grated ginger, some grated lemongrass, a squeeze of lemon and a couple of dashes of soy sauce. This was then blitzed for a few seconds and the filling was complete. While I generally prefer to use Metric quantities I find it easier in this case to use the American volume system.

Potsticker Dough
2 cups plain flour
1 cup boiling water

1. Mix flour and hot water in a bowl or pulse in food processor until it forms a ball. Knead for 5 mins approx. until smooth and silky and then rest in bowl covered with cling film until ready to roll out.
2.   Shape dough into a roll and slice into small rounds.
3.  Roll out on a floured board using a rolling pin. I like to use a ring cutter for uniformity of size.
4.    The pastry disks can be stacked sprinkling a little flour between each one to avoid sticking.
5.    They can be frozen at this stage for use again.
6.   Fill each disc with a teaspoon of filling and join up the edges pinching to seal. They look fine like this, but I like to add a pleat as the ones I first tasted were shaped in this way.
7.    Heat some oil in a wide pot or frying pan with lid and fry for two minutes until golden underneath. Add ½ cup water, cover with a lid and steam for about 8 mins or until cooked. Depending on the size of the dumplings or the pot you have used, you may need to do this in batches.

Dipping Sauce:
2 parts soy sauce to one part rice wine vinegar.
Half red chilli pepper sliced with seeds removed (or left in if you want some serious chili heat)