Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pot Sticker Post: FOR THE WIN!

May Bourdain smite me as I say this: I like vegetables! In fact, I love them so much I've stopped eating meat. Please don't look at me that way. I know what you're thinking. "Oh, the horror she's become a VEGETARIAN!"

Well, not really. Meat is expensive here, and I don't think it tastes good. Furthermore, Paraguay and I have different definitions of "butchering." While I won't refuse meat, I don't purchase it myself. So rest assured, I won't be feeding you tempe or vegan-aise next time we meet. I still love to eat God's good creatures. 

It really is a shame that vegetarians are soul-less, terrible people. You would think that people who sustain themselves, in fact, define themselves by vegetables would treat them better. I've been looking on vegetarian food blogs and I'm finding that most any recipe that begins with "vegetarian" is horrifying. This is all without mentioning their fetish-esque relationship with tofu. It's all very sad.

So what's a girl to do? As with all things in Peace Corps, make it up as I go along. So here is my first "vegetarian" recipe.

Vegetarian Pot Stickers! 

They were awesome. 

By "vegetarian" I mean converting something that traditionally has meat, to a meatless version without hating myself for eating it. I want to concede that there are a whole plethora of dishes that don't need meat nor even consider it and are still scrumptiliuptious. It's just when people start trying to pretend substitutions are or taste like meat, that's when things go wrong. Like Hindenburg wrong.

Veggie Potstickers 

This whole post is essentially lifted from here at
The dough recipe is lifted exactly. If you plan on making the dough, I 100% reccomend you go to that site. She has lovely step by step pictures. As you'll see my pleating isn't so sexy.

The filling recipe I tweaked to make it without meat and still have a decent texture and flavor now that I can't rely of the wonders of pork. I've put the recipe of what I did. I might try tweaking the filling again for next time, but this turned out pretty good.

A few things I would recommend off the bat. CUT EVERYTHING SUPER SMALL. I got my veg as small as my shitty knife and shittier knife skills would let me, but you should cut them smaller. I was hoping for a more solid filling that wouldn't fall apart on the first bite. That's why I added an egg to bind it. It worked with varying results. I had more success with more finely cut veggie bits. Also, If you look at the original recipe you'll see she has mushrooms in the filling too. I totally would have put mushrooms in this if I could have found them. I would have also used napa cabbage and not the regular white cabbage had it been available. Finally, I should have added more siracha for a zing. When will I learn? When in doubt, add a little more siracha!

I whipped up the dipping sauce from what I had around the house. If you live in America, you should use the recipe that URB offers, also listed below. For Peace Corps folks, mine get's you pretty close.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup warm water
flour for worksurface

A large bowl for mixing
A surface to roll out dough
A rolling pin. (Wine or cana bottle is just fine)

Make the dough, Method 1: Place the flour in the work bowl of a food processor with the dough blade. Run the processor and pour the warm water in until incorporated. Pour the contents into a sturdy bowl or onto a work surface and knead until uniform and smooth. The dough should be firm and silky to the touch and not sticky.[Note: it’s better to have a moist dough and have to incorporate more flour than to have a dry and pilling dough and have to incorporate more water).
Make the dough, Method 2:  In a large bowl mix flour with 1/4 cup of water and stir until water is absorbed. Continue adding water one teaspoon at a time and mixing thoroughly until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. We want a firm dough that is barely sticky to the touch.
Preferred PC rolling pin? Used Cana bottle.
Both dough methods: Knead the dough about twenty strokes then cover with a damp towel for 15 minutes. Take the dough and form a flattened dome. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide. Shape the strips into rounded long cylinders. On a floured surface, cut the strips into 3/4 inch pieces. Press palm down on each piece to form a flat circle (you can shape the corners in with your fingers). With a rolling pin, roll out a circular wrapper from each flat disc. Take care not to roll out too thin or the dumplings will break during cooking. Leave the centers slightly thicker than the edges. Place a tablespoon of filling in the center of each wrapper and fold the dough in half, pleating the edges along one side.

 Filling: My version
A couple glugs of oils for sauteing
1/4 head cabbage minced or chopped as small as you can.
2 medium onions small dice
1/2 cup ginger root, minced (Go to your Yuyo lady and ask for Cana Brava)
1/2 cup carrots minced
4 cloves garlic minced
2 egg (Eggs in my town are small. So maybe you only need 1)
3 tbsp soy sauce plus potentially more to taste.
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp siracha

A pan
A strainer

Yeah, that's the knife I used.
Filling method
This tasted good by itself.
Cut all the veg as small as possible. Heat up a pan on medium heat with oil and caramelize the onions. After they've begin to sweat (5 minutes) add honey and soy sauce. Let them get cooked and sweet (10-ish more min) then add the carrots, ginger, garlic and cabbage. Take off the heat when the cabbage is just wilted. We don't want to cook it all the way through. Remember this is all gonna cook again. Taste this. You should want to eat it as is for the most part. Now is the time to add more S&P, soy, hot sauce, or honey to get the taste just right. If you want to add some Thai flair you could add basil, clantro and lime juice or any acidity to the mix too. Take off the heat put into strainer and drain off the liquid. Let cool. This is a good time to make the dough.

Once cool and you're ready to assemble, wipe the pan dry, put the mixture back in the pan and crack an egg in the mixture. (It may seem obvious, but don't crack the egg into the mixture while it's still in the strainer.) The egg is too bind it together. You want it wet but not soupy. Maybe mix in one egg and judge if you need the second. If you wanted more protein I imagine you could mince up some hard boiled eggs and put that in the mix. Assemble according to dough instructions.

Those could look prettier.

To pan fry (potstickers): Place dumplings in a frying pan with 2-3 tbsp of oil. Heat on high and fry for a few minutes until bottoms are golden. Add 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook until the water has boiled away and then uncover and reduce heat to medium or medium low. Let the dumplings cook for another 2 minutes then remove from heat and serve. They should release themselves from the pan. DON'T FIGHT THEM.

dipping sauce (Real version)
2 parts soy sauce
1 part vinegar (red wine or black)
a few drops of sesame oil
chili garlic paste (optional)
minced ginger (optional)
minced garlic (optional)
minced green onion (optional)
sugar (optional)
Combine all filling ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly (I mix by clean hand). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 
dipping sauce (My version)
A good amount of Soy Sauce. (I dunno 1/4 cup)
A little bit of honey or sugar
A couple glugs red wine vinegar or the fake red wine vinegar they have here.
Garlic powder
A little hot sauce. Of course I used Siracha.

Put all ingredients in an empty jar you have. You proabaly just drank vin-cola out of it. If that's the case, clean it first. Put the lid on and shake till combined. Adjust elements to taste.

Now plate it all up and enjoy. It was fairly easy although labor intensive. Take a rainy day or ya know any day that's kinda slow, so any day really, and make up a batch.