Dumplings are a traditional Chinese food, especially in Northern China. It is made into a shape like the "yuanbao" (元寶), a silver/gold ingot used to be the currency in China until the 20th century. The filling can be a mix of ground meat and vegetables. It can be boiled, steamed or pan-fried. Because of its shape, it is a "must-have" during Chinese New Year, representing good luck in money. Of course, it is also a common food through out the year. I like to have pan-friend and steamed dumplings in the summer time, and the boiled dumplings in the winter time. It's just a personal preference.
The charm of pan-friend dumplings is the crispy and crunchy crust, when fried to the golden brown color. I used to line the dumplings up in the pan with no particular pattern, but now I learned this great trick from Carol. She puts them in a pretty flower pattern, and when it's done, it looks so pretty! The taste is even better! It's so crunchy! Delicious! If you like crunchy texture, you've got to try this! The secret is the flour (1 Tbsp) and water (1 1/4 cup) mix, when fried with the dumplings, it creates crunchy crust under the dumplings. Also, it glues all the dumplings together. That's why another name for pan-fried dumplings is "the pot stickers".
My dad's family is from Northern China, so making dumplings from scratch is right up my valley, but it's a lot of work, which I will share someday. I always have frozen dumplings I bought from the market in my freezer. The best kind from my opinion is the Wei-Chuan high end dumpling series. The wrappers are thin, and the filling is tasty. This is a quick meal, in 15 min, you can have golden brown and crunchy pot stickers.
1. Turn on the stove, set it on extremely low heat. Pour two Tbsp cooking oil in the pan. (Adding more oil is not necessary if using a non-stick pan.) Spread the oil evenly in the pan.
2. When the pan/oil are still cold, line up the frozen dumplings in the pan in a flower pattern. Start with the first round at the center of the pan, 6 dumplings. Then put one dumpling between the dumplings to make the second round. Repeat until all dumplings are in pan (see picture below).
3. As the pan is heated (on low heat), the dumplings start to sizzle. Prepare a mix of flour (all-purpose flour, 1 Tbsp) and water (300 mL = 1 1/4 cups) in a bowl; stir until no flour clumps.
4. When the sizzling calm down a little (2-3 minutes), add the flour water to the dumplings. Cover the pan, and turn the stove to high heat.
5. While the dumplings are cooking, prepare the sauce (1 Tbsp soy sauce, 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (烏醋), 1 tsp sesame sauce and 1 tsp hot chili sauce). We also add 1 mashed garlic (from Microplane grater).
6. When the water in the pan is all gone (5-6 minutes), remove the cover and turn the heat down to low heat again so that the dumplings won't be burned. Let the residual water evaporates, and only liquid in pan is oil. (Note: This is very important, otherwise the dumplings won't be crispy but soft and soggy, speaking from experience.)
7. Turn off heat. Take a spatula, stick it under the dumplings and make a circle to loosen the crust. It's now easy to invert the dumplings onto a plate in one piece, because the flour water, once cooked, serves as a paste and clue all dumplings together.
|Pan-fried dumplings with a crunchy crust|