Okay, those wontons were fun, but they were just a warm up for the main course: jiaozi. The wrapping process for jiaozi is a little bit involved, but once you've made and frozen a big batch, they go from freezer to tummy in about twelve minutes. Make them on a day when you've got extra energy, and you'll have at least two or three lazy day meals all lined up.
The filling is fairly similar to the wonton filling, only we'll be leaving the egg out and adding water chestnuts. I also made a ground buffalo filling, so for those of you keeping score, these are dumpling types 2 and 3.
First, make the dough. The dough needs to sit for about 45 minutes, so you can make the filling while the dough is resting.
I worked from two recipes I found on Epicurious. And as an aside, can I say how bummed I am that Gourmet folded? Here are my starting points: Shrimp & Pork Potstickers and Beef Potstickers.
I made the wrappers per my mom's technique; I doubled the recipe below to make about 50 wrappers total.
Dough (for 25 - 30 wrappers)
1¾ cups all-purpose flour (I used King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour).
¾ cup of very hot water
1. Boil a large kettle of water and let cool for a few minutes.
2. Measure out 1¾ cups of all-purpose flour.
3. Take ¾ cup of nearly boiling water and, using a chopstick, slowly stir it into the flour, forming a dough (many recipes I've read refer to it as shaggy, and once you make it, you'll see what they mean).
4. Working a few seconds at a time (as long as your hands can stand it), work the dough so that all the flour becomes incorporated. As you work the dough, it should quickly cool off to a temperature that is manageable to handle. You may need to add more flour, a tablespoon at a time, so the dough is not too wet.
5. Knead the dough for a few minutes, until you have a relatively dry, smooth dough. Set aside, covered with plastic wrap or a damp towel at room temperature while you make your filling (at least 45 minutes).
Pork and Shrimp Filling
7-8 fresh water chestnuts, peeled with a paring knife and blanched in boiling water for five minutes
¾ lb shrimp peeled, deveined, and roughly chopped
½ lb lean ground pork
1 cup chopped chinese chives
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon ginger, minced (or blitzed in the food processor)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon peanut or canola oil
1. Take the blanched water chestnuts and chop them into a rough dice.
2. Mix all ingredients together and let marinate for half an hour or longer, covered, in the fridge.
(Unfortunately, Safeway only sold buffalo by the pound. You really only need about half a pound). I made twice this amount and used the rest of the filling, modified, for the baos in part 3.
½ pound ground buffalo (beef would also work)
1½ tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons minced ginger (buffalo is very gamey, so I added a lot of ginger to counteract, if using beef, you probably only need 1 tablespoon of ginger)
1 tablespoon Chinese hot bean paste
2 cups chopped chinese chives (or garlic chives, if available)
3 napa cabbage leaves, washed and finely sliced
UPDATE: I did a second batch and added about two tablespoons of very finely minced (food processorized) zha cai to the filling. This batch came out insanely good: juicy, flavorful, but not at all pickle-y.
Mix all ingredients together and let marinate for half an hour or longer, covered, in the fridge.
Wrappers and Assembly
1. Once the dough has rested for at least 45 minutes, divide it in half, then in half again. Take one of the quarter pieces of dough and place the rest back under the plastic wrap or damp towel.
2. On a lightly floured board, roll the dough out into a long tube, about an inch in diameter.
3. Cut the dough into pieces a little over an inch long. I think of them as "gnocchi-sized" (See photo).
4. Flatten one of the pieces of dough with the palm of your hand, then roll it out with a rolling pin to a circle about 3¼ inches in diameter.
5. Repeat with the rest of the dough, being sure to flour your board lightly between wrappers.
To assemble the potstickers, you will need a small cup or bowl of water to seal the dumplings. You will also want a cookie sheet lined with wax paper and a piece of plastic wrap to lightly cover the dumplings and prevent them from drying out as you're working.
6. Place one of the wrappers in your palm and place about a tablespoon of filling in the center. Wet the edge of the wrapper.
7. Fold like a taco and pinch the center together. Then seal the edges with a series of pinches. (There are many sites on the web that describe a more elaborate "pleating" technique, if you feel like being fancy.)
8. Put the potsticker, resting on its "bottom" on the cookie sheet and cover with the plastic wrap.
9. Wrap the rest of your potstickers. At this point, they can be frozen and saved for up to three months. First arrange them on a sheet of wax paper, making sure to leave space between your dumplings so they don't stick together. Then place them in your freezer for about an hour. Once they are frozen solid, transfer them to a freezer bag. Cooking instructions below work for both fresh and frozen dumplings, but you may have to add a minute or two of cooking time for frozen.
Pretty much identical to the wonton boiling technique, but I'll repeat here. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Without overcrowding the pot, drop in your dumplings. Bring water back to a boil. Once it's boiling again, add a cup of cold water. Bring the water back to a boil. Again add a cup of cold water. Repeat one last time. This process usually takes about 8-10 minutes for me depending on how many dumplings I'm making. The dumplings will float and their wrappers will be semi-translucent when they're done. Serve with slivered ginger, rice vinegar, chili oil, and a splash of soy sauce.
Swirl a small amount of peanut or canola oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan just large enough to fit your dumplings in a single, loose layer (keep in mind that they will expand slightly when cooked, so they should be barely touching each other). If you're making a large amount, you may have to do this in batches. My 10" frying pan comfortably fits 20 dumplings which is pretty perfect for two adults (12 for my husband, 8 for me). Once oil is hot, place dumplings in the pan and cook for about one minute to form a crust on the bottom. Grab a tight-fitting lid for your pan, pour in ¼ cup of room-temperature water and *immediately* clamp the lid down. Be careful! Pouring water into hot oil generally causes some splattering, but if you're quick with the lid, you should be able to avoid any mess. Turn flame to medium and cook, covered, for about three minutes. Then remove lid and allow the rest of the liquid to cook off (about 2 more minutes). Serve with slivered ginger, rice vinegar, chili oil, and a splash of soy sauce.