With all of my Dads’ family still living in Hawaii, we have spent plenty of time there over the years. I grew up enjoying the unique foods that are available there such as spam, plate lunch, saimin, Maui chips, and shaved ice. My favorite dish that I have learned how to cook is potstickers. I love that once you learn how to make them, you can alter them in any way you wish. They can be filled with savory or sweet items, and the potstickers can be steamed, pan fried, or deep-fried. Think of them as a pizza, where you can add any toppings and in any combination that you like. So here is the basic steamed potsticker recipe. (Steamed and soft potstickers are a great protein source for someone with a lack of ability to chew)
1 package won ton wrappers
1 pound of ground pork
4 green onions (white and green parts chopped)
¼ cup water chestnuts finely chopped (optional)
Small bowl of water
Won ton wrappers are fairly easy to find at most grocery stores. They come in round or square shaped. Try looking in the produce refrigerators or where the packaged tofu is located. Once you buy a package of the wrappers they stay good for a couple weeks so you do not have to use them immediately.
Mix the ground pork, green onions and water chestnuts until just combined. Here is the slightly tricky part, wrapping your potstickers. Using a cutting board or other work surface, lay out several individual won ton wrappers. Place about a spoonful of the pork mixture into the middle of the circle won ton wrapper. Then dip your index finger in the bowl of water and run your damp finger around the edge of the wrapper. Now fold one side over and seal the edges together. You should now have a half moon shaped potsticker. It will be able to stand up on its bottom with the sealed edge pointed up. If the wrapper does not stick together well you can use a little more water. If you are using the square won ton wrappers, arrange your empty wrapper with one corner pointed up and put your spoonful of meat mixture across the middle on the horizon. Run a dampened finger around the edges. Fold the top corner down to meet the corner that is pointed down. Then seal the two sides and curl them inwards. This should end up looking almost like a tortellini shape. Set up a pot with water and a steamer assembly (depending on your steamer container you may want to use a little bit of cooking spray to prevent sticking). Working in batches you want to steam the potstickers for 5 minutes or so, until they are soft and the filling has been steamed. It generally works well to form about 10 potstickers, start them steaming, and then form another set of ten potstickers so you can steam in batches. As you make the potstickers you will also get a feel for exactly how much filling you can put inside without suffering a potsticker blowout during steaming.
Serve the potstickers warm or at room temperature with a dipping sauce. A simple dipping sauce is soy sauce with chopped green onions (maybe add a little crushed red pepper for kick). Or you can use any store bought sweet and sour, or teriyaki sauce. Sometimes the Asian section of the grocery store will have specific sauces for potstickers. Experiment and find what you like! If you do not have a steamer assembly, you can cook the potstickers in a frying pan just as easily. Put a couple tablespoons of peanut oil (or vegetable oil if you have a nut allergy) in the bottom of a skillet. Cook the potstickers in the oil over medium high heat for about a minute. Then add about a half cup of water into the skillet and immediately put a lid on the skillet (watch out, there is a splatter moment here). Steam the potstickers for about 5 minutes. This cooking method gives a potsticker with some golden crunch on the bottom and a nice and soft steamed exterior. The last option is to toss the potstickers in a deep fryer set at 350 degrees until they float to the top. Remove them to paper towels to absorb the extra oil.
Once you have mastered making the potstickers, the fun of varying the recipe can begin. You can make vegetarian potstickers with a filling of finely shredded cabbage, carrot, onion, water chestnuts and green onion. You can make dessert potstickers by filling the wrapper with apple or cherry pie filling. Feel free to add cinnamon and nutmeg to the dessert versions. The sweat potstickers are very good deep-fried, they are like mini fruit pies. Try dusting them with powdered sugar, yum! For lower calorie potstickers you can substitute ground turkey or chicken in the recipe above. Use ground beef, refried beans and Spanish rice in a filling for a Tex-Mex version that is awesome deep-fried. You can do vegetarian Tex-Mex potstickers with corn, beans, rice and cheese. See what other versions you can think of and feel free to share!!