How to Make Won Tons and Pot Stickers
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Have you ever wondered how to make those cute little Won Tons or Pot Stickers you get at your favorite Chinese restaurant or takeout?
My son-in-law is Chinese and when we went to visit them in Florida a while back, he made wonton soup for us. It was soooo good. He and my grandson, only 9, sat at the table and folded and pasted and voila! Dinner was on.
When I got back home, I decided to look into it and see if I could replicate his perfect little won tons. It took a little bit of practice, but once I got the hang of them, it was pretty easy. I won’t lie to you – this is not one of those “In Under 30 Minutes” dinners. But it is if you’ve made them up in advance, frozen them on a silicone sheet or parchment paper, and then bagged them up for a later date.
It’s important to line your cookie sheet before placing the won tons on it. Don’t let the won tons touch each other, and do only one layer deep. If you don’t line your paper, you might have a hard time getting them off your frozen cookie sheet. Stick them in the freezer overnight, until the won tons are good and frozen. The next day, get a good quality freezer bag (labelled with contents and date!), mark them on your “freezer” list, and throw them in. If they touch each other at this point, it will be fine. Just don’t let them thaw all jumbled up, because the won tons will go back to sticking together, and you want them all detached.
The actual “recipe” is easy and one I just sort of invented. You can alter it or change it in any way, depending on your taste. I used ground pork for this recipe (which is the yummiest version but the least healthy). I have also used ground chicken and ground pork tenderloin. For these, I use my handy-dandy Kitchenaid grinder attachment. I confess that I don’t use this all that often, but when a recipe calls for ground chicken, this saves me a boatload of bucks. A pound of ground chicken costs me $2.00 rather than pre-ground at $6.00. Plus, it’s just kind of fun. And I do like my gadgets! Here’s the link on Amazon, if you’re curious: http://amzn.to/2gZY75C
Won Tons and Pot Stickers
1 ½ pound ground pork
5-8 scallions, sliced finely
1 T soy sauce – I only use this little because my dipping sauce is very soy-y. You can always add more.
1 T toasted sesame oil
I heaping T minced garlic (from the jar or fresh)
1 heaping tsp ground ginger (or fresh)
Won ton wrappers
Gyoza (pot sticker) wrappers
Finely shredded Napa Cabbage or White cabbage, optional
Egg white wash, for the “glue” – just mix 1 egg white with 1 T water
In a large bowl, place all of your ingredients. Gently mix with your hands, until everything is nicely incorporated but don’t overwork it. (I once mixed my meatloaf in my kitchenaid with the paddle and then wondered why it tasted like my saddle shoes from Catholic School). No, no. No.
If you want to go the extra mile, (which I really do recommend) take the pan that you will using to pan fry the won tons in later. Put a tiny of amount of oil in the pan and heat it up. Make a tiny meat patty and cook through, then taste. This will allow you to adjust your seasonings before assembling the won tons. Get out a silicone sheet or parchment paper on your cookie sheet. Line all of the little squares up like so, so you have a little assembly line.
With your pastry brush, paint all around the won ton squares. If you’re lazy, like me, you can just paint the entire square, which is a lot easier.
Now take a little tiny spoon. You can use a baby spoon; I like these cute little porcelain spoons I got on Amazon. I like these to put in salsas and other condiment bowls because they don’t react with the condiment the way silver can. Here’s the link, if you think you’d like these: http://amzn.to/2yImRHl. The ones I bought were identical to these, but mine didn’t have the cute designs on the handles. Bummer.
Scoop out a little bit of the ground pork mixture onto the middle of the diagonal wrapper. Grab the uppermost corner and bring down toward you til it almost meets up with the bottom corners. Now you have an inverted triangle.
With your fingers, press down on all sides of the meat, so that there isn’t any air in your won ton (much like you do with ravioli). After you’ve pressed around the meat, move out toward the edges, sealing the won ton well.
Take your pastry brush, dipped in egg white wash, and dab all folded won tons on the left hand corners (see photo).
Now, the fun part. Take hold of the top two corners (leave the one pointing at your stomach alone).
Bring the two corners around the back of the meaty center and join them by pressing the right corner on top of the left and pinch down, so it forms a good seam.
Gently remove from work surface to a lined cookie sheet.
Here’s a link for some very affordable silicone liners. Considering the high cost of parchment, I’d say you’ll get your money’s worth in no time. Here they are: http://amzn.to/2yFPW67
When you’ve done as many Won Tons as you have the patience or time for, stick the cookie sheet in the freezer.
When you’re ready to cook the Won Tons, preheat your oven to 200°, so the fried Won Tons can be kept warm.
Fill your skillet or dutch oven with about 2 inches of canola or peanut oil. The oil will expand quite a lot when the Won Tons go in, so make sure your pan is deep enough that you have plenty of room for the oil to expand. The last thing you want is hot oil, bubbling over the pan. Ask me how I know! Frozen Won Tons will add an element of water to the hot oil and that can cause a reaction with the oil, so take care!
Heat on medium til the temperature hits 350° or 360°. Last night, my thermometer said the oil was only 300° but I didn’t trust it, because it was just taking way too long. If you don’t trust yours or don’t have a thermometer, try this: Take a wooden spoon and point it down into the oil, til it’s touching the bottom. When the oil has reached a good temperature, the bubbles will quickly come rising up the base of the wooden handle and you’re ready to fry. If the oil goes crazy, bubbling too high, too fast, turn the heat down a notch, and test again in 5 minutes.
Test just one. Have a slotted spoon ready, to flip when one side is brown. Also, have a bunch of paper towels nearby in a pie plate or brownie pan, to drain the cooked won tons. It might be a good idea to cut this first one in half, just to make sure your pork has cooked through. Last night, I really blew it. My oil was way too hot and I had barely started to cook the won tons when they were turning way too dark. The too-hot oil meant the outsides were dark but the filling wasn’t cooked! Ugh. It wasn’t the end of the world, though (unless we get trichinosis, that is); I just put them back into the 200° oven til they were cooked through. But they were still overdone on the outside, although my hubby would beg to differ. He prefers his food this side of burnt. Shudder. It might be worth my while to buy a new oil thermometer! Anyway, taking photos and frying at the same time is not the easiest feat! I had to remake them this morning to get a photo of the properly browned and cooked won tons!
Once you’ve gotten the idea of how long your won tons will take or whether you need to adjust your heat, you can proceed with the rest.
Gently (!) place about 5 won tons, one at a time, into the hot oil. Don’t overcrowd your pan; too many at once will lower the temperature of the oil and you’ll end up with soggy, oil-filled won tons. Yuck.
When you’ve peeked at the underside and like the color, carefully flip them. You don’t want your top or apron splattered with oil. One of the reasons why you want your meat filling to be small is so that the meat cooks all the way through, in a pretty short amount of time.
When the won tons are a nice, brown color, remove to the paper towels. Place these in the warm oven.
Repeat this process until all of your won tons are cooked.
When you remove the Won Tons from the oven, just lift up the edge of the paper towels and gently empty the won tons into your warmed pan.
I like to serve my fried won tons with Mae Ploy, which is a sweet chilli sauce you can find just about anywhere. I get most of my Chinese condiments at an Asian market because they carry the real deal and their prices can’t be beat.
Won Ton Soup
4-6 cups chicken broth
Soy sauce, to taste (2-3 Tablespoons?)
Garlic, to taste
Ground ginger, to taste
Toasted Sesame Oil
Chopped Green Onions, for topping
Bring all ingredients except green onion to a boil in a dutch oven or large pot. Reduce to simmer and simmer about 15 minutes to blend the flavors.
Take your formed, frozen won tons and add as many as you’d like. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes. Keep the water at a low simmer, so you don’t annihilate those beautiful creations of yours. They will fall apart if cooked for too long. Pour into bowls and top with green onion. Sorry, but I don’t have a photo right now.
If you have a freezer bag already filled with won tons, this soup is a wonderful rescue dinner for those nights you are too beat or too busy (or both) to cook.
Use the same ground pork mixture.
This may sound confusing, but look at the photos and, with a little practice, you’ll be able to turn out these puppies in no time!
Line your work surface and line up 6 to 8 Gyoza wrappers (Gyoza is just the Japanese version of the Chinese Pot Sticker wrapper). Using your pastry brush, coat each with egg white wash.
Place about twice as much pork mixture as you use in the won ton. (I estimate these will take 2 scant teaspoons). This will be dropped onto the middle of the wrapper in an oblong shape. Just make sure you leave enough room on either side to get a good seal.
Take the bottom of the wrapper and bring it up to meet the top edge but ONLY press on the very middle, not the entire edge. Now, take your pastry brush and paint just the front edge of the front part of the pot sticker.
Place the wrapper in your left palm. Put your first finger between the two halves of the wrapper and, with your thumb, make a little pleat on the right side of the wrapper. You will be pulling the front toward the center. Do this another two times. Then seal the right side edge.
Now, work the left hand side of the wrapper. Keep the two edges apart so they don’t touch. Pleat the front wrapper toward the center and press to seal. Pleat twice more and seal the edges.
If you look at the photos, you’ll notice that the back side of the pot sticker has no pleats – they are only on the front!
Take your pleated pot sticker and have it sit up, so that you are forming a flat bottom. Then take both ends and curve them around, so you get the classic pot sticker base.
If you want to skip the pleating process, it’s ok to use one of those little pot sticker forms. Just make sure that, when it comes out of the mold, you make it sit up, so that it has a flat bottom.
At this point, you can place your pot stickers on a lined cookie sheet. When all of your pot stickers are formed, place the filled cookie sheet in the freezer for a minute. Or overnight, or for however long you like. You can always freeze these first, then stick them in a freezer bag (label and date!) and use them later.
Heat your oven to 200° and place an ovenproof dish (like a pie plate) in there to heat. Heat a skillet (I like cast iron for this – it gives a nice, brown finish) with a thin, thin layer of canola or peanut oil, just til the oil shimmers. Have a measuring cup of water with a Tablespoon nearby. Also, have a good lid ready.
Gently place enough pot stickers on their bottoms in the heated oil, but don’t crowd the pan. Check on the color – you want a nice, crispy bottom.
When all of the pot stickers have achieved the right color, quickly and carefully add exactly 2 Tablespoons of water and IMMEDIATELY cover with the lid. Give it a couple of minutes to steam, then remove one and cut through to make sure the meat is cooked through. If so, remove all to a serving dish. Again, if you’re not ready to eat, you can put in a 200° oven, but only for a few minutes. The won tons can stay in there longer, but the pot stickers are better eaten asap.
I like to serve my pot stickers with a Hot Dumpling Sauce that I get at our Asian Market. Sorry, but I can’t read Cantonese or Mandarin, so that’s about all I can tell you. But the words “Hot Dumpling Sauce” are in English under the Chinese Label. It’s really not that hot. You can always add toasted sesame oil, chopped green onions, hot chili oil, depending on your taste.