Tag Archives: Potstickers

Gluten-free dumpling wrappers, and pork and tofu potstickers

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.

gf potstickers round

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.

gf potstickers formed

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:

gf potstickers dropping

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.

gf potstickers dipped

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Broccoli potstickers

Sometimes I have to scrape and scrabble for recipe inspiration. And sometimes the ideas just float by uninvited. This was one of the easy ones: I was sitting around on a lazy Saturday, minding my own business, when two words suddenly popped up and took hold in my mind. Broccoli. Potstickers.

It’s hard to resist a sudden inspiration like that, and I didn’t even try. I already had a half-used package of wonton wrappers left over from making ravioli, and some broccoli that needed to get used. Riffing off of my turkey potstickers from Christmas, I steamed the broccoli and pulsed it in the food processor with scallions, ginger, garlic, and a mishmash of tried-and-true flavorings. Once again, folding and pleating the potstickers was slow, sticky work, and about halfway through I wondered why I’d gotten myself into this. But the payoff, unsurprisingly, was huge.

These suckers are addictive. There’s the familiar greenness of broccoli, mixed with the hot spark of fresh ginger and the soothing saltiness of hoisin and soy, all in one crispy-soft bite. I’m a broccoli fiend anyway, so these hit the spot with me, but even those who are suspicious of broccoli will very likely enjoy these. With the wonton wrappers, the potstickers came out bite-sized, perfect for dunking and munching one after the other after the other. Because there’s no meat or tofu to weigh these down, they feel almost insubstantial, which makes them effortless to eat. I was going to freeze half my batch for later, but I never got the chance, because Sam and I ate them all.

As far as dipping sauce options, anything light and soy-based would do terrifically here. My favorite dipping sauce–the one in the photo below–is just equal parts soy sauce and rice vinegar. I pinched a little of the chopped scallion from making the filling, added it to the sauce, then let the whole thing sit aside and mingle while the potstickers cooked. It was perfect. Highly recommended.

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Turkey potstickers

Things I learned while making potstickers for the first time:

  1. Homemade potstickers are totally worth it–if you’re patient.
  2. If the ground pork at the supermarket looks questionable, ground turkey makes a fine dumpling substitute.
  3. Supermarket round dumpling wrappers are convenient, but finicky as hell. They will tear at the least provocation. Be gentle, or go to an Asian grocery store for honest-to-goodness potsticker wrappers.
  4. Don’t do this on a weeknight. Make a stir-fry or something instead. Otherwise you will be lonely, exhausted, and cornstarch-covered at 11 PM.
  5. Don’t do this alone. Enlist your friends. Have a potsticker-pleating party. Save the wine for afterward.
  6. Speaking of pleats: they don’t have to be flawless. The goal is to seal the filling in and create a flat bottom for the pan, not to replicate the greasy perfection of your favorite Chinese restaurant. If you can pleat the perfect crescent dumpling, you are more impressive than I.
  7. Overstuffing is death. Think torn wrappers, gummy fingers, and raw meat everywhere. Don’t be like me–measure your filling.
  8. You can freeze the dumplings before cooking, using the old baking sheet-to-zip-top bag trick. If you’re cooking the potstickers straight from the freezer, be warned: they will spit and spatter something fierce. Act accordingly.
  9. The secret to great homemade potstickers? A nonstick pan. Who’da thunk.
  10. As with so many things in life, these are best fresh from the pan. Soft on top, juicy in the middle, crusty and dark on the bottom. I believe the verdict from my dinner guests was “addictive.”
  11. My friends will eat as many potstickers as I can put in front of them. There is no limit. See point 10.

DSC03765

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