Quality guo tie are easy to find in the frozen section, but I’m realizing that there is a certain taste to homemade versions that cannot be replicated. This was my first attempt at the Chinese potsticker or any Chinese dumpling, of which there are many varieties. (if you feel like nerding out on dumpling varieties, check out this Lucky Peach guide, complete with illustrations) So I learned during attempt #1 that making panfried dumplings is a definitely a process, as one can imagine, but so worth making if and when you have 2-3 hours to spare.
Being a fan of J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s column on Serious Eats, I decided to go with his recipe over the ones in my home cookbooks. (sorry, Fuchsia Dunlop, sorry Ken Hom, I’ll try your versions next time)
Making the dough is as easy as can be. If you are used to pie crust and tortillas and such, you’ll have no problem here- only flour and boiling water are combined in a food processor and left to rest. The filling is a little more difficult to pinpoint. The salt and spice ratios are said to be starting points in the recipe. It calls for you to heat up a small bit of filling and taste, making salt and other adjustments here before moving on. I decided to simply go with the listed amounts, leaving me with a slightly under-salted and under-spiced batch. Nothing terrible, and a little vinegar and chili oil made up for flavor in the end.
After the dough is rested, it’s time to roll out the dumplings. This is where recipes tend to differ on the technique: some call for rolling out a log rope of dough and cutting pieces from there. This recipe calls for rolling out tablespoon-sized balls from hunks of dough. Seems to be a matter of preference.
The toughest part for me is the sealing off the dumpling edges. As you can see from the photos, I don’t have a perfect pleating technique down. This video from Anita Lo was super helpful and helped me struggle a little less mid-batch. Be nice and give me time, though- I think it’s only fair to get critical after the 3rd try.
The end result was a healthy amount of flavorful, super-fresh dumplings. They were perfect with a smashed cucumber salad on the side. (this one is courtesy of Fuchsia.) All I need to do next time is amp up the salt and spice blend- and practice my dumpling pleats, of course.
Recipe Credit: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, Serious Eats
Kitchen Mess: 3 out of 4. Flour, food processors, and raw pork equals a lot of clean-up.
Recommended For: Hungry dumpling fans on a lazy Sunday afternoon, Group Dinner Prep
Not Recommended For: Weeknight dinners.