Well, I survived the great flood of UCLA this week. I was actually working a summer camp in Pauley Pavillion when the water main broke, and when water started coming down the steps to the floor of Pauley, we decided it was time to call it a day and end camp. Walking around campus and seeing the sheer amount of water was pretty overwhelming. Most of our athletic facilities were damaged, and many of them had just been renovated or redone, so it was upsetting to see all the damage. Not only that, but seeing the massive amount of water that was lost, especially with the drought, was just sad. The goal is to get all our facilities back up and running by the time fall quarter starts, which is two months from now. I can only hope that we have the funds and the support to make it happen. In the meantime, I guess I can eat my feelings away… Starting with these jiao zi (Chinese dumplings, or potstickers)!
This is my version of a family recipe for jiao zi that my mom gave to me. All the measurements are very rough, and the batch I made ended up making way too much filling compared to the number of wrappers I had, so this recipe is an attempt at making adjustments to the amounts. I can’t promise it will be exactly correct, but it should be fairly close. I mostly go by taste to adjust the amount of sauces I put in, so those measurements are also approximated.
I love the filling for these dumplings, since the sesame oil and green onions give it a distinct flavor, and while you can make your own pi (wrapper), it’s much easier to just get the storebought kind. I got mine at an asian market, where they were significantly cheaper than the local Ralph’s, but I have seen them there in the refrigerated section near the produce, sold with the tofu. Anyway, stuff these wrappers with this delicious, vegetarian filling, boil them or pan-fry them, whichever way you prefer, then sit down and enjoy your delicious dumplings!
Recipes like this make me appreciate my food processor so, so much! Without it, this recipe would take forever, but with my trusty Cuisinart, it only took 10-15 minutes to make the filling. Making dumplings with friends is the way to go, since everyone can help, and it makes the wrapping step go much quicker. I had several of my friends over for dinner, so we had lots of fun wrapping the dumplings, and it made less work for me! Win win 🙂 Here’s the recipe!
Jiao Zi (Chinese Dumplings/Potstickers)
12-14 oz extra firm high protein tofu, or baked tofu
1 bunch green onions(about 6-7)
1/2 head green cabbage
1 cup carrots
8 oz mushrooms
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp hoisin sauce (optional, but adds a touch of sweetness)
2 packs gyoza/potsticker wrappers (about 100 wrappers)
Olive oil, for cooking
Remove the tofu from packaging and place on paper towels to drain. In a food processor, pulse the the green onions, tofu, cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms individually until in coarse crumbs, then place in a large bowl and mix together until well combined. Add the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, and hoisin sauce, if using, and stir until all the flavors are incorporated.
To wrap the dumplings, place shallow bowls of water on the table. Dip your finger in the water and run it around the edge of a wrapper to moisten it, which allows you to create a seal. Place about 1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons of the filling in the center of the wrapper, then fold in half and pinch together in the middle. Starting from one side, pleat together the edges of the wrapper until you reach the middle, then do the same with the other side. This should make the dumpling end up in a half moon shape. It’s hard to explain, but here’s a good video of the method I use. Honestly, it’s not a huge deal how you close them, as long as their wellsealed. As you wrap them, place the dumplings on a baking sheet. At this point, you can cook them all, or cook as many as you wish and freeze the rest on the baking sheet, then remove and place in freezer bags until ready to cook.
To cook the dumplings, there are two methods.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Place the jiao zi in the boiling water and boil for a few minutes, until they float. Remove and drain, then serve warm. Note: To do this method, the jiao zi must be very well sealed. If there are any that aren’t tightly sealed, they will simply burst during boiling and you will have boiled wrappers and filling soup. Not as delicious, so seal your jiao zi well.
2) Pan-frying (Potstickers)
Heat a skillet with a lid over medium heat. Lightly coat with olive oil. Place the dumplings in the pan and allow to cook for a few minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown. Then, working quickly, pour 2-3 tablespoons of water in the pan and cover immediately. Do not remove the lid until all the water has cooked into the jiao zi, then remove from the pan and serve warm. This method is more forgiving in terms of how well your jiao zi are sealed, but make sure you don’t take the lid off before the water is cooked off, or you’ll let all the moisture that’s supposed to be cooking your jiao zi out before they’re done.
Both of these methods yield delicious jiao zi, it just depends on how you like them. I love both methods, so I did some of both! Either way, they taste great! Enjoy!