Even though he estimates he's made hundreds of thousands of them, Scott Drewno says pork potstickers never get old. In fact, they are the food the executive chef of The Source by Wolfgang Puck, a fine dining Asian fusion restaurant in Washington, D.C., says he would take to a desert island.
"They're everything you want in a dish — salty, savory, filling," says Drewno, as he lovingly holds up one of three bowls of ground pork he planned to season and stuff into dumplings before our eyes.
The humble dumpling was traditionally prepared by families in northern China, sitting around tables late into the night before the start of the Chinese New Year.
And while the Year of the Snake began last weekend, Chinese new year's celebrations traditionally last two weeks. So there's still time if you want to mark the occasion by trying your hand at dumplings this weekend.
Drewno recently led a willing group of patrons through the sticky and twisty ways of folding dumplings at a class in honor of the Chinese New Year.
Have a visual taste via our slideshow above. Drewno's pork dumpling recipe is below.
Traditional Pork Dumpling With Black Vinegar Dipping Sauce
1.5 pound pork butt
1.5 pound pork belly, ground
2 ounces pork fatback, ground
1 tablespoon cure salt (sodium nitrate, or substitute kosher salt, Drewno says)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon chili oil
1/4 cup Napa cabbage, lightly salted
2 tablespoons flat garlic chives, blanched, chopped
Mix meats, fatback, oyster sauce, salt, sugar and peppers in a bowl. Place in freezer for 20 minutes. Grind in mixer with 1/4-inch die. Mix in mixer with paddle attachment ("until it springs back at you and doesn't fall apart," Drewno says).
Add remaining ingredients.
Place potsticker skin on table. Brush half with egg yolk. Place small amount of filling in center of skin. Fold in half, and crimp up sides, sealing filling.
Place in boiling water, cook 3 to 4 minutes until fully cooked through. Drain.
Place in hot saute pan with peanut oil and cook on one side until golden brown. Remove and place on plate with black vinegar dipping sauce (recipe follows). Garnish with carrot strings, beet strings and daikon strings.
Black Vinegar Dipping Sauce
(Most Asian markets carry the ingredients, Drewno says.)
4 teaspoons black vinegar
1/8 cup chili oil
4 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons mushroom soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped.
Place all ingredients in bowl and mix well.