Tag Archives: Tofu

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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Baked tofu and vegetable egg rolls

Well. Seems like everything else this year, Christmas snuck up on me from behind, tapped me on the shoulder, and darted away. I was busy eating egg rolls. I hope that’s a good enough excuse.

To be honest, I needed these egg rolls. The past few days have been exhilarating, and overwhelming, and about three different kinds of emotional. Two of my dearest friends from college got married–to each other, no less–and so I spent the weekend in Virginia with our closest cadre of friends, drinking too much and staying up too late and feeling deeply, radiantly happy every time I looked into their faces. We’re all scattered across the country now, and when we all saw each other it was as if no time had passed. And yet. There are weddings now, and graduate degrees, and careers forming, and the slow realization that we’re settling into places and identities without each other. This process of cutting a path through the thicket of adulthood, knowing that I’m doing it so far away from many of the people I love, is starting to become very real.

So I came home and made egg rolls for Christmas. The recipe is an odd one, out of a stained and dog-eared old cookbook on my parents’ kitchen shelf, written by an American woman intent on introducing Chinese Buddhist vegetarian cooking to the masses. The filling is a cornstarch-thickened melange of carrot and celery and baked tofu, chunky and chewy and rather unlike any other egg roll I’ve ever had. My family has made these egg rolls, in one form or another, since I was a preteen, and so they taste familiar to me, and soothing, and comfortable. Now, on my own, I’ve adjusted the flavors in marginal ways, changing an ingredient or two to suit my tastes and compensating for errors in the original directions. But I haven’t strayed too far. In at least one aspect, I keep coming back to where I’ve been.

Belated Merry Christmas, everyone.

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