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Experimenting with Frozen Potstickers

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I just recently purchased a large bag of frozen potstickers from Costco. The directions instruct the cook to place some oil, the potstickers, and some water into a non-stick skillet, bring it to a boil and then let it simmer covered for 8 minutes before taking the top off and letting the rest of the water cook out to brown.

I decided that I would do a little experiment to see if I could achieve similar or better results with stainless steel. So I followed the directions exactly as written on the package, but substituted a stainless steel pan with the non-stick. Not surprisingly, the potstickers stuck to the pan really badly. Much of the crispy skin of the potsticker was left on the pan and it was a pain to clean it.

I almost gave up on the idea, but then I thought I'd give it one more try, this time bringing the water and oil to a boil first before adding the potstickers. I used this method for both stainless steel and nonstick and achieve the following results:

Nonstick:
1. Non-stick pan took a bit longer to boil the water/oil mixture in the pan
2. The potstickers turned out with a slightly crispy skin with little browning
3. There was no sticking to the pan

Stainless Steel:
1. The potstickers turned out with a definitively crispy skin with nicer browning
2. There was only a little sticking, and most of the crispy skin remained intact.

Conclusions:
Non-stick really doesn't perform as well as stainless steel. It's slower to heat up and doesn't brown as easy. The only thing it has going for it is it's non-stick properties, which can be adequately duplicated with other pan materials with a little bit of technique.

Attached are some photos. The potstickers on the left are the stainless steel versions. I'm curious to see if others have tried using Stainless steel to cook foods straight out of the freezer and if you were able to achieve decent results?

 
 
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  1. We've made potstickers and frozen them for later use before. Mostly with pre-made wrappers.

    The concept of adding both the oil and water at the same time seems strange to me, if that's really what you're describing. My typical method is to heat the oil up, brown the dumplings, then add liquid (we usually use chicken broth) and cover. Steam for a few minutes, then you're done. I usually only add enough liquid (maybe 1/4 c.) so that it's mostly evaporated by the time the dumplings are done (and I can start the next round quickly).

    To me, there are lots of variables that go into how well this works (range, skillet brands, etc). We do fine with nonstick, but if I had a good spatula (to release dumplings if they do stick some), stainless works too.

    Unless you're planning on making dumplings all day, every day, I'd just go with what's handy.

    5 Replies
    1. re: ted

      "The concept of adding both the oil and water at the same time seems strange to me"

      Either way once the water is evaporated, the oil and potstickers are what's left. The oil is supposed to help brown the bottom and prevent sticking.

      "My typical method is to heat the oil up, brown the dumplings, then add liquid "

      This is how I was taught to took potstickers/dumplings in nonstick. I like this method better, the crust formed before adding the water prevents the potstickers from sticking at the end.

      1. re: ted

        Well, I also tried your method, but I didn't like the mess I created adding water to a super hot skillet. Grease was popping all over the place. Are you able to add water to hot grease without all the excess splatter?

        1. re: wiselad

          There's no need for the pan to be super hot at any time when cooking pot stickers. I take it off the flame for a moment, add the water and slap on the lid. No splatter.

          1. re: escondido123

            Cool, thanks for the tip!

          2. re: wiselad

            I've only experimented once in SS but I always cook potstickers in nonstick. So the surface doesn't need to be super hot. In fact, I never go above medium with my nonsticks cooking dry. This is where a big deep saute or skillet (fry pan) with a lid comes in handy. I take the pan to the sink and add water directly from the faucet without much splatter because the pan isn't too hot. Traditional nonstick surfaces tend not to get as hot as SS surfaces anyways.

            Sometimes I'll crack open the lid a bit slowly add water from the faucet.

        2. Regardless of the type of pan, heat oil, fry, then add a bit of water and cover to steam-fry. Works like a charm.

          1. Potstickers and oatmeal are things I've tried and will never again cook in stainless steel. Potstickers are stored in the freezer. The surface of frozen foods will be too cold to form a nice seared crust on SS. The crust is needed to prevent sticking. Boiling then evaporate flour wrappers in water will glue those potstickers to the SS pan.

            SS will never be a full replacement for nonstick. Even your alternate method, in theory, those potstickers should have stuck to the bottom because the wrappers would have been soft and turned very sticky on the SS surface. Although somehow you've managed to get them out in one piece.

            How much oil did you use? Are you adding more oil just before the water completely evaporated?

            1 Reply
            1. re: unprofessional_chef

              Stainless steel doesn't usually do well with any type of frozen food. But what I found with frozen hash browns was that if the pan was hot enough and there's enough oil, I was able to put a nice crispy golden brown crust on my frozen hash browns without much sticking. So I wanted to see if this would work with potstickers. My first attempt was a fail because I added the frozen potstickers to a cold pan. My second attempt succeeded, I believe, because I brought the oil and water to a boil before I added the frozen potstickers. That was the key. By the time the water boiled out the difference between the temp of the pan and the potstickers is much smaller and thus a much smaller chance of sticking.