Cooking frozen potstickers
A bit back, I made a batch of Alton Brown's Perfect Potstickers and froze
what we couldn't eat in a single sitting. I'm not sure now though how to
cook the remaining potstickers. When fresh, they cook in a saute pan over
medium heat for 2 minutes in oil and then for another 2 minutes after
adding stock to the pan, with the heat turned down to low. And, the ground
pork went into the potstickers raw.
So, as these little beauties are now frozen, should I thaw first and then
cook or can I cook straight from the freezer. And, if I can cook frozen,
how long in each phase?
I cook them frozen, I seem to get skin/wrapper damage when I let them defrost. The skins stick to each other, my fingers, and they tear.
I don't time my cooking, I cook until the food is done. I use a non stick pan when cooking frozen pot stickers, and low heat. If you feel more comfortable cooking by time: go to the store, read the cooking instructions on a package of frozen potstickers, or cook just a few, doubling the time you used for fresh ones and if they turn out the way you like them, continue.
There is a "story" about how pot stickers were "invented". The cook left them in the pan too long.
The Ultimate Potsticker Technique
Most people (including my mom) have it all backwards. When you brown potstickers then steam in the pan, you lose all the wonderful crispy texture created by the browning in the first place. What a crime against dumplings.
The trick is to steam and then fry. You can do it all it one pan. I use a large non-stick with a lid, but a well-seasoned cast iron might also work.
DO NOT THAW. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO SEPARATE frozen potstickers.
Put 3/4" water into the pan and add 1 liberal tablespoon of canola oil. The oil is essential. Bring it all to a vigorous rolling boil. Then fill the pan with a single layer of frozen potstickers. They should be half-immersed.
Cover the pan and boil/steam on high heat for max. 2 minutes.
Remove the lid, keep it boiling and let all the water evaporate, in just a couple minutes. Resist the temptation to stir or flip them. Your tender just-cooked dumplings will now be sitting in droplets of the remaining oil. Bring the heat to down to medium and let the bottoms crisp.
With gentle persuasion, I hope you'll find your potstickers will then separate by themselves, from the oil droplets having found their way between them.
Sandra, Vicki's really got the right idea here, as far as authenticity. This is how all Chinese chefs cook frozen potstickers. They actually come out much more nicely than fresh potstickers, and for me it's easier to guage cooking time on frozen ones.
Basically, if you have them half covered in water, then put on a TIGHT lid, by the time the water has all evaporated the potstickers will have cooked through no matter how frozen they were in the first place. The oil that you put in will also coat the potsticker nicely, and allow them to brown on the bottom before you're done.
Really authentic potstickers are cooked fresh using homemade dough, which is significantly softer than storebought dough. If you go to a restaurant that specializes in potstickers, the way they cook it is exactly as Vicki has described, but the dough will melt a little, forming a sheet on the bottom of the pan. When the potstickers are ready to go, the chef slides the whole sheet, with potstickers popping out of it, upside down onto the plate. The diners then split the crispy, slightly burnt layer at the table and enjoy each potsticker. it's a beautiful thing, and can only be achieved by this cooking method.
And, this is how I ended up cooking them in the end. I used half water, half turkey stock of all things (it's what I had) for the steam/boil. They had a nice, sort of sticky glaze glaze on them when done and the bottoms were crispy. We ate them with a dipping sauce of 2/3rd soy to 1/3 rice vinegar, ginger, sesame oil, chili oil, and sugar.
I'm responding to an old thread here, but I wanted to say that I just made frozen potstickers for the first time and I followed Vicki_Vale's technique exactly and they came out AMAZING. So thanks Vicki! I used a small non-stick pan (only made 7 potstickers) and it was great....the boiling off of the water took a bit longer than I expected (over 10 mins) and I was worried for a bit, but it ended up being just perfect!
While I appreciate the "cook until the food is done" comment, this is one of those cases in which it's hard to tell just when the food is done, given that the potsticker contains frozen, raw pork. I'm imagining that the outsides could look done but the insides not be at optimal temperature. Which is really what prompted the question.
I buy frozen potstickers from Costco the reheating instructions give 2 methods. Recommended method - brown bottoms in saute pan then add water, cover and steam OR Put in microwave safe dish and cover with water zap on high for about 1 min per potsticker. Overzapping results in a mushy potsticker that falls apart. Any dough not covered with water dries out and becomes chewy-nasty.
Are they all stuck together? Unless you flash froze them individually, they'll probably be stuck together, and you'll cause a lot of damage getting them apart. Even when left on the counter to thaw, the pieces often stick to each other.
If someone knows a good way to take these apart, please comment.
I use this technique mostly with frozen veggies like corn but it will work with potstickers and other dumplings. Success depends on the thickness of the skins (the thicker the better) but if you really want to get them to separate, try dropping the bag on the floor. The shock will usually knock the ones that aren't too stuck together loose. The ones that are really stuck you'll just have to cook like that.
I do straight from freezer. I have a well-seasoned cast iron skillet with a tight lid, if I didn't have that I guess I'd use nonstick (do NOT use a flimsy stainless pan, they get welded on). Heat pan, film with oil (don't be stingy), put in potstickers and let sizzle half a minute or so, add a few spoonfuls stock or water (more if your lid is leaky) and cover tightly. Let steam about 5 minutes (depends on how big they are), uncover, and cook until liquid has evaporated and bottoms are nicely browned.
I would just steam them until thawed and cooked, then pan sear on high heat for extra flavor.
Incidentally, I couldn't bring myself to make Alton's perfect potstickers.... I can't bring myself to put ketchup in Chinese food. Did they turn out okay? I keep visualize eating a McDumpling.
Not to be a smart alec, but do you realize that ketchup (both the word and the sauce) *originated* in east Asia? And although the tomato-based version is relatively new (earliest references are from the late 1700s, but it's possible it was around before then), the Malaysians have been cooking with a sweet version of 'kecap' made with soy, spices, and sugar or mollases for centuries.