pot-sticker contest! | 12:01 pm | 5 February 2006

I am absolutely a whore for potstickers. Chinese food in little dumplings! Dumplings, so good! They even have a sort of gross and cute name. Dumpling! Dumpling!

I hadn’t made potstickers at home — other than the occasional, mostly disappointing frozen ones from sundry places. Absolutely one of the best cooking magazines ever, Cook’s Illustrated, features a potsticker recipe this month, and given their stellar track record, it was time to get busy. They strongly recommend gyoza wrappers over wonton, and I was lucky that our new Asian grocery in the neighborhood carried them. All the other ingredients are pretty straightforward – pork, scallion, garlic, napa cabbage, egg…

The recipe says that it makes twenty-four dumplings, but either they have crazy-big gyoza wrappers, or just way better skill at fitting ten pounds of stuffing in a five pound bag. The package of wrappers I got is entirely gone, and I had a generous two cups of stuffing left over for another day. Oh, such tragedy…

It’s a little time-consuming, but not overly complex or putzy. Put a movie on the TiVo, and you’ll have a freezer full of heaven before you know it.

uncooked potstickers

So, how did these stack up? In the freezer I found two left from a bag of Whole Foods “Whole Kitchen” Shrimp PotStickers, and a tray of Gyoza potstickers with pork that I bought last week at the local Asian mega-grocery. Both of the store-bought brands are pre-cooked, which doesn’t really make much sense in that their tiny payloads would have plenty of time to cook thoroughly with the browning and steaming.

cooked potstickers

We started the tasting; the rule was first bite unsauced, second bite sauced, and we started with the Whole Foods “shrimp” dumplings. Scare quotes are intentional – these were bland, lacked character, and not shrimpy at all. The filling was maybe one step above that in those nasty freezer “eggroll pockets” or whatever those nasty little things that your mom bought in 1973. This is too bad, as I generally get palpitations over Whole Foods. (Then again, I rarely stray from the peripheral aisle with all the good stuff.)

Moving on to the Gyoza, these were a marked improvement, with a definite pork flavor and they “kinda taste like an oriental store.” There was something preservativey or weird, though. These would definitely do ok in the event of a potsticker emergency, but you might not serve them to guests.

Cook’s Illustrated wins the day again! Note in the photo how cute and dimpled they are next to the much more lifeless and wan store brands. Choice quotes: “Oh! They’re good!,” “by far the best,” “that’s a potsticker all right!” The sauce really does make up a huge part; on their own, they’re a bit bland but with the sauce, SUPER. Next time, I’ll add a pinch of five spice and maybe a pinch of sugar to the stuffing – but I’ve got a whole lot of yum in the freezer before I get to that next time!

2 comments on “pot-sticker contest!”

  1. Miriam

    I’ll bring you some tomorrow :)

  2. Heiderino

    I want to eat these NOW!

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