Gluten-free potstickers. Oh, man, were these good.
Continuing our newly created tradition, Sam and I invited friends over for homemade Chinese food on Christmas. With an army of willing hands (and plenty of wine) at my disposal, it seemed like an ideal time to make potstickers. One of the friends who came over is newly gluten-free, and I wanted to make something special she could eat. Homemade potstickers are a treat to begin with, and made with fresh wrappers, they’re downright indulgent.
Right from the get-go, I knew I wanted a wrapper recipe that didn’t require flour blends or stabilizers. Not that there’s anything wrong with those, but given that I’m not gluten-free, I didn’t want to buy a specialized flour mix or a big bag of xanthan gum and have the rest of it go to waste. Fortunately, I found a recipe that relies on only rice flour and tapioca flour, both of which I’ve been meaning to buy anyway. Rice flour–the regular stuff, not glutinous rice flour (which doesn’t have gluten either, incidentally)–is great for dredging and battering fried foods, while tapioca flour or starch is considered the “gold standard” thickener for fruit pie fillings. I knew any leftovers would not go to waste.
I’m not going to kid you: this is a lot of work. The dough itself comes together lickety-split, but the process of forming the wrappers and folding the dumplings takes a while. This is where throwing a party and enlisting friends comes in handy. I had four people rolling balls of dough, flattening them with the bottom of a bowl, filling them, pleating them, and laying them out nicely on a baking sheet–and the whole process still took at least a couple of hours.
You’ll notice in the original blog post that Andrea Nguyen’s wrappers are perfectly smooth and thin; ours were shaggy and uneven, and many of our dumplings ended up looking more like stegosauruses than potstickers. It was very much a process of trial and error, as we learned that larger wrappers are easier to fill and pleat, but much harder to eat. I highly recommend keeping the wrappers on the small side, and covering any dough you’re not using with a towel to keep it moist and workable.
For the filling, I adapted my trusty turkey potstickers recipe, using a mix of ground pork and crumbled tofu left over from making hot and sour soup. I started off doubling the wrapper recipe, which wasn’t quite enough to use up all the filling; I tried to make another full batch, but had only 1/2 cup of tapioca flour left, which worked out to 2/3 of a recipe. As it turned out, multiplying the original recipe by 2 2/3 gave us the perfect number of wrappers for our filling–I was astonished how well it worked out. I’ve included the larger numbers in the recipe below.
So how did the wrappers actually turn out? Not quite like ordinary potsticker wrappers, but phenomenally delicious in their own right. As they fried, they scented the kitchen with a wonderful sweet-toasty rice aroma, which I wasn’t expecting but thoroughly enjoyed. I actually thought it was easier to gauge doneness with these, since the dumplings started out opaque white, then turned translucent and slick when done. I got impatient with the first batch that came out of the pan–here’s me trying to pick up a hot potsticker with my fingers, and failing:
When I finally managed to let one cool enough–barely–to bite in, I was so happy I started dancing. The crust on the bottom of the potstickers was harder and crisper than with a wheat wrapper, and the tops were sticky and chewy and dense. The filling turned out pitch-perfect: it had that familiar fatty pork flavor, but the tofu made it light and almost fluffy. I mixed up a dipping sauce of tamari, rice vinegar, and scallions, then sat back and watched the dumplings disappear. Gluten-free and gluten-eaters alike, our friends gobbled them up–even the stegosaurus-looking ones.
I set aside some of the dumplings to freeze, as per usual: I popped the baking sheet they were on into the freezer, waited a couple of hours for them to harden, then slipped them into a plastic bag. The next day, I cooked a few straight from the freezer for lunch. They were just as delicious as they’d been the day before, when the wrappers were fresh–only now, they took minutes to make. In my book, that makes them an unqualified success.
Rice Dumpling Wrappers (makes about 60 small wrappers)
2 2/3 cups regular rice flour (NOT glutinous rice flour)
2 cups tapioca flour
3/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp + 1 tsp peanut, canola, or vegetable oil
About 1 3/4 cups boiling water, plus more as needed
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together rice flour, tapioca flour, and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the oil and 1 3/4 cups boiling water. Mix to combine, adding hot water a little bit at a time as needed, until the mixture comes together into a dough and is just cool enough to handle. Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead for about 1 minute, or until it’s very smooth and malleable, like Play-Doh. Divide the dough into quarters, and cover each quarter loosely with plastic wrap. Let rest at room temperature for 5 minutes.
Roll one portion of the dough into a log about an inch wide, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Working one at a time, press the pieces of dough into round discs about 1/4 inch thick, then use a heavy flat object–like the bottom of a glass measuring cup–to flatten the discs into circles about 2 3/4 inches across. Transfer the finished circles to a baking sheet, and cover them with a clean kitchen towel while you work on the rest.
Once you’ve rolled out one portion of the dough, fill and form dumplings with that batch. When all your rolled wrappers have been filled, start working with another portion of the dough. Keep the finished dumplings, the rolled wrappers, and the unused dough under a clean kitchen towel to keep them from drying out.
If the dough cracks or dries out as you’re working with it, moisten your hands with water and knead the water into the dough. I found it helpful to have a small bowl of water nearby, so that I could dip my fingers as needed.
Pork and Tofu Potstickers (makes about 60 potstickers)
Adapted from this recipe
1/2 lb firm tofu (about half of a 16-oz container), drained and patted dry
1/2 lb ground pork
4 scallions, white and light green parts only, minced
1 (8 oz) can bamboo shoots, drained and minced
1 large or 2 small garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp minced or finely grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp salt (if using low-sodium soy sauce, increase salt to 1 tsp)
60 small dumpling wrappers (or 1 batch of dough, above)
Peanut, canola, or vegetable oil for pan-frying the dumplings
Water for steaming the dumplings
Using your hands, crumble the tofu into a medium mixing bowl. Add pork, scallions, bamboo shoots, garlic, ginger, cornstarch, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and salt. Use your hands to thoroughly combine the mixture, breaking up the tofu so that it incorporates smoothly with the ground pork.
Place the dumpling wrappers under a clean towel. Working one at a time, remove a wrapper from under the towel and place 1 tsp of filling in the center. Fold the wrapper over the filling, then pleat and seal it using the one-sided pleat shown here or the peapod shape in this video. As you finish wrapping the potstickers, place them on a plate or a baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel to keep the wrappers from drying out.
To cook the potstickers, heat about 1 tbsp peanut oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil just starts to smoke, add your first batch of potstickers, placing them in a circle flat side down, making sure they don’t touch. Depending on the size of the pan, you should be able to get about 10-12 potstickers in each batch. Fry the potstickers for 1-2 minutes, or until they are golden on the bottom. Add about 1/4 cup water to the pan, cover, and reduce the heat to medium. Let the potstickers steam for 3-4 minutes, or until the wrappers are cooked and the dumplings are firm to the touch. Remove the lid and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes more, or until the liquid in the pan is gone, the dumpling wrappers are tender, and the potstickers have started to sizzle again. Cut one of the potstickers in half to make sure it’s cooked through, then remove the potstickers to a plate and wipe out the pan with a paper towel. Repeat the whole process with the remaining potstickers.
Once the potstickers are fried, serve them with your favorite dipping sauce. You can also freeze the uncooked potstickers in a single layer on a baking sheet, then transfer to a zip-top bag and store in the freezer for up to 2 months.