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Nov 22, 2009 09:32 AM

Porkless pot sticker fillings?

Hi all, I'm on a bit of a pot sticker kick (used this recipe for starters: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/mi... ) and added some ground turkey to see how that would work out (tasty but not quiiiiiiite right).

I knooooooow, I've read threads about fav pot sticker fillings, but can not find even one when I try to search. Would very much appreciate pointers--whether they are to existing threads that are hiding from my search "skills" or paraphrases of your favorite fillings.

Thanks a million!

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  1. 1/4 cup chopped cilantro?! Come on Ming, what were you thinking?

    Regular cabbage, fatty ground chicken (this might be hard to find- you might be able to get away with ground white meat and rendered fat- maybe), ginger, garlic, chives (probably fresh). Those are your main players. The cabbage will probably need to be boiled/steamed and pressed to get the water out prior to making the filling.

    As with most Chinese takeout savory dishes, there's probably some sweetener in the actual filling. If it's good cabbage (hard to find these days), it should be bringing some sweetness to the party, but I wouldn't rule out adding some additional sweetener.

    Some soy sauce, but not enough to effect the color (chicken pot stickers should be pale).

    9 Replies
    1. re: scott123

      In my experience, you're better off not boiling/steaming the cabbage but rather chopping it well and salting the heck out of it, letting it sit for a while and then pressing all of the water out of it in a strainer. The point is to get all of the water out so that it won't bust the skin, not to pre-cook it...The excess salt will dissolve into the water when you boil them.

      1. re: StheJ

        I could be wrong here, but the cabbage in the dumplings I've had doesn't seem like it's salted. At least, I don't think it does.

        Does salting soften cabbage? To an almost cooked texture? The cabbage seems very very soft- a level of softness that could never be achieved by the 4 minute or so simmer of the dumpling.

        The shredded cabbage used in dumplings is the same used for egg rolls, correct?

        1. re: scott123

          scott, cabbage for pot stickers, whether to be included in meat dumplings, or to be used in an all-vegetable dumpling, is salted, then squeezed dry. The salt does "cook" the cabbage and renders it limp but flavorful. Between squeezing and steaming, so much of the salt comes out it's hard to taste. Cabbage for dumplings should be minced or ground.

          The cabbage/carrot/celery mixture for egg rolls is shredded, rather than ground/minced. The shredded vegetable mixture sits with salt, sugar and vinegar (again, in the case of egg rolls) and then that liquid is thoroughly squeezed out before mixing with pork and placing in wrappers.

          Our restaurant makes an all-vegetable dumpling (we even color the dough with parsley juice). Beside the cabbage, grind in equal amounts of blanched Chinese broccoli, fragrant (shiitake) mushrooms, and add tiny (1/8") cubes of soy-dried tofu. We also mix in a little scrambled egg and some scallions.

          1. re: shaogo

            Minced or ground... yes, I can resonate with that. But salt... I'm not saying I disagree with you, but with any new idea relating to Chinese restaurant food, I have to let it incubate a bit before I can officially declare it as personal canon. Give me a little time on that one :)

            Also, just to make sure we're on the same page- I'm talking old school New York style chinese restaurant food.

            Vinegar in egg roll cabbage? Really?

            1. re: scott123

              I don't know anything about "old school new york styke chinese restaurant food" and I think that you need to clarify whether you're talking about americanized chinese food or authentic cantonese/szechuan restaurants like you would find in ny ctown, flushing, sf, toronto etc...

              In terms of the salt, personally, I'm relating a technique that I have found to be quite usefull and effective in making great dumplings that I learned from actual chinese people who cook authentic food in their home on a regular basis. If you don't find it helpful or don't want to employ it in your cooking... ok.

              1. re: StheJ

                StheJ, I'm referring to Americanized Chinese restaurant food that had it's roots in Canton, Hunan and San Francisco, but, imo, was forged in the streets of Manhattan in the middle of the 20th century and then pretty much conquered the rest of the globe.

                When I say Old School New York Chinese Restaurant food, I'm talking about the beginnings of 'Chinese Take Out' in Manhattan/surrounding area 1930 to about 1980.

                Chicken Chow Mein, General Tso's, Sweet and Sour pork, Duck Sauce, BBQ Spare ribs, etc etc. Although potstickers are more authentically Cantonese than most dishes on the American restaurant menu, they are still a very solid fixture, and, as such tend to be very similar from restaurant to restaurant.

                For me, take out's my holy grail, so I'm always seeking insights into the short order Chinese American kitchen.

                1. re: scott123

                  Can you give an example of the place/places you're talking about? I like authentic asian food as well as americanized asian food.

                  I am/was what they commonly call a latchkey child in nyc, so I am familiar with take out.

                  Honestlly tough, while I like both, if I were to cook one or the other in my own cooking, it would certainly be as close to authentic as possible...

          2. re: scott123

            As indicated in my post above, the salt dissolves into the water when the dumplings are boiled and therefore the dumplings aren't overly salty, or this cooking method wouldn't make sense... The salting causes the water in the cabbage to be expelled so the filling won't expand and burst through the dumpling skin.

            In terms of the egg rolls, I would not recommend salting the cabbage in this way because they are not boiled first and there is no opportunity for the salt to dissolve in to the water.

            1. re: scott123

              Stuffed cabbage recipes call for either boiling the outer leaves to soften, or freezing then thawing the whole head. Either method softens the leaves by breaking the cell walls. If I were making potstickers I would shred, freeze, and thaw the cabbage. ( I use cabbage prepped this way in meatloaf and frikadellen.) Then, to dry and sweeten it, I would saute it in a little oil over medium heat until it starts to caramelize.

              Costco's Ling-Ling brand potstickers are made with chicken and are pretty decent, if a tad bland. I think you could make a good Thanksgiving leftover potsticker using ground dark meat, stuffing, sweet potato, gravy, and cabbage and scallion/chive.

        2. My standard is a mixture of ground pork, minced cabbage, grated ginger root and a little garlic. You can really use anything, as long as you get everything in small pieces.

          Crab or shrimp make fantastic dumpling fillings too.

          1. I would second the fatty chicken recommendation as a substitute for the ground pork, as the taste seems to work better than ground turkey. I use a combination of finely minced fresh ginger, shallots, cilantro, very finely chopped bok choy or cabbage, soy sauce and a pinch of sugar in my potstickers. Sometimes I also add hot garlic sauce or sirracha if I want them spicy.

            1. I just read the recipe the OP links to.

              Oooh. I'm a traditionalist, so the mention of red onion *inside* a dumpling sent me running in the other direction.

              On another note, the dumpling dipping sauce is all-important. We use:

              1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
              1/4 cup rice vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or white vinegar
              zest of half a lemon
              3-4 green onions, chopped, whites/greens and all
              tsp. honey
              3 Tbs. chopped garlic, mellowed in a bit of olive oil
              chili pepper flakes to taste
              3 Tbs. dark amber sesame oil

              We let this sit for a couple of days before we use it.

              1. Don't use turkey. You need some fat in your pot sticker filling.

                If you don't want to use pork, try ground chicken thigh meat (not breast) and add in some soft (silken) tofu, with a good dose of sesame oil. Add those ingredients (chicken, tofu, sesame oil) to your original pork filling recipe and you should be set to go.

                Good luck.