When B. and I first started dating, he had to travel a lot for work. During one particular trip, I got the idea to stock his freezer with something he could eat when he got back. For reasons that remain unclear even to this day, potstickers came to mind. I had never made them before, but I forged ahead all the same with what I thought was a reasonable approximation of the frozen ones I had been buying at Trader Joe’s. What resulted were inedibly salty, dense little meatballs in inelegant rubbery pouches. These Best-Ever Potstickers, the result of many subsequent years’ worth of trial and error, are better than anything you could buy at the store. Not too salty and not too dense, with a burst of freshness from ginger and cilantro. They’re great for snacks, appetizers, lunch, dinner, or to freeze uncooked for later, and I guarantee whoever you make them for will be impressed.
The amounts below make 40 potstickers. You’ll have some wrappers left over, which you can freeze to make ravioli sometime in the future.
• 1 package round Gyoza wrappers: $1.48
• 1/4 head of cabbage: 46 cents
• 8 oz. ground pork: 85 cents
• 3 green onions, chopped: 25 cents
• 1/2 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped: 20 cents
• 1 1/2 T finely minced ginger: 5 cents
• 1 T sesame oil: 10 cents
• 2 T soy sauce: 10 cents
• 1 tsp black pepper: 1 cent
• Salt: 1 cent
• 1 egg (garden), beaten: $0
• Canola oil for frying: 10 cents
• 2 T soy sauce: 10 cents
• 2 T rice vinegar: 5 cents
• 1/2 T sesame oil: 5 cents
• 1/2 tsp sugar: 2 cents
• Sriracha to taste: 5 cents
TOTAL: 27 cents
GRAND TOTAL: $4.06 + .27 = $4.33/4 = $1.08
Slice the cabbage into thin strips. Mix with about 1 T kosher salt and let sit in a colander for about 10 minutes. Wring the water out of it, then transfer to a bowl with the pork, ginger, green onion, cilantro, pepper, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Gently stir in the beaten egg.
Spread out about a half dozen gyoza wrappers on a clean, dry surface, keeping plastic wrap over the rest of them so they don’t dry out. Keep a little bowl of water handy (I like to use the bowl I beat the egg in). Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of the wrapper.
Dip your finger in the water and wet the very outer edge of the gyoza wrapper, all the way around. Fold the wrapper in half, pinch the sides together, and carefully pleat. (My attempt to explain how to do this will probably be more confusing than your trying to figure it out on your own. It’s not hard at all; just use the photos of how they should look as a guide.) Place the finished potsticker on a clean, dry surface, like a cookie sheet, and keep covered with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Repeat until all the filling is gone.
To cook, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. I actually like to use a nonstick skillet, because once the potstickers…well…stick, they’re really hard to get off, and you will end up with a lot of ripped and torn ones. Add about 1/2 T of oil (1 T+ if you don’t have a nonstick skillet), when hot, add as many potstickers as will fit in a single layer without touching. Add enough water to come about 1/2-inch up the sides of the skillet (stand back when you do this), cover it, and let cook until all the water has evaporated, about 3-5 minutes. If you’re using a regular skillet, you may have to shake it a few times to make sure the potstickers don’t glue themselves to the bottom. It may take you a couple of rounds to learn exactly how long they take to cook; take one out and cut it in half if you’re unsure. The bottom should be browned and crispy and the wrapper should be translucent.
Stir the dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Serve and enjoy.