Chinese Dim Sum "Potstickers" / Thai Steamed Dumplings
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Here is yet another successful recipe I learned at a Thai restaurant cooking class I attended years ago.  This one is not complicated but it is a lot of work to prepare all the ingredients that make up the dumpling filling.  The hardest part is folding and sealing the dumplings, but with practice it is easy.  It is so much fun to cook them because you steam them in a steamer in just minutes.  It is even more fun to eat them because the dipping sauce is so tasty. I think this Asian recipe come from a traditional Chinese dumpling recipe, where they are called Xiaomai.  The Thai version is called Khanom Jeeb and is found as an appetizer in many Thai restaurants here in the USA and are often found as street food in Thailand. For the dumpling wrappers, I use prepackaged wrappers from my local Asian grocery store.  They are called won-ton wrappers, won-ton skins, dumpling wrappers or gyoza wrappers. They are like Chinese egg roll wrappers, but they are only about 3 ½ inches across.  If you get square ones, trim them to fit a 3 ½ circle.  But many times you may find prepackaged wrappers already cut in a circle.  They are fresh or frozen and are found in the refrigerator section.  You can also make your own wrappers, but rolling them out to the right thickness takes some practice.  I buy pre-made round gyoza wrappers because they are so easy to use and because it is the filling and the dipping sauce that makes up most of the Chinese / Thai dumpling flavor. Ingredients: For the wrappers: 30 circular won-ton wrappers, each about 3 ½ inches across For the filling: 1 cup raw ground pork (see vegetarian options below) 1 cup raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and finely chopped 3 sprigs coriander (cilantro) roots or substitute 3 cilantro stalks with all the leaves 3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and chopped fine 10 whole peppercorns 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped 6 water chestnuts, finely chopped 1 tablespoon tapioca starch (may substitute cornstarch) 1 tablespoon sugar 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce (I use Three Crabs brand, use soy sauce for a vegan version) 1 teaspoon soy sauce For an optional garnish: 2 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic 3 tablespoons oil For the dipping sauce: ½ cup red rice vinegar ½ cup soy sauce 2 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and chopped fine 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and chopped fine 1 green onion, chopped fine For the filling, mash the coriander/cilantro, 3 garlic cloves and the peppercorns in a mortar and pestle or else just chop them as finely as you possibly can.  Combine this with all of the other ingredients for the filling. To stuff the dumplings, first wet all the edges of the wrapper slightly, so that they will stick together when you crimp the edges closed around the filling.  Wet all of the edges all the way around the wrapper.  Work with one wrapper at a time because they dry out quickly and a dry wrapper will not wrap or cook properly. Place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of one wrapper.  Fold the wrapper in half to make a half moon shape and pleat and crimp the edges together for a good seal.  Don’t use too much filling, because the dumpling may hold together when you fold it but it will burst during cooking.  The other way to shape them is to draw all the edges straight up and seal them at the top of the dumpling.  Whatever shape you choose, after it is sealed lightly tamp the dumpling down on a solid surface to dent the bottom of the dumpling so that it has a steady base to stand upright on. For the optional garnish, combine the 2 tablespoons fresh garlic and the 3 tablespoons oil.  Then you can either stir fry this very briefly or else microwave it for 2-3 minutes.  The idea is to heat it up just enough to infuse the oil with the garlic flavor.  This makes a delicious topping that you can brush on the finished dumplings just before steaming them.  I often omit this. To cook my dumplings I use an inexpensive double level aluminum steamer that I bought in an Asian grocery store.  Many cooks swear that the bamboo ones are the best but I find them difficult to clean.  Use a little oil on the cooking surface of a new steamer to ensure that the dumplings do not stick.  .  Be careful not to put too much water in the steamer that it floods the cooking surface or to little that the water all steams off and the steamer is damaged from excessive heat with no water.  Steam the dumplings on high heat for about 5-10 minutes. An alternative to using a steamer is to freeze the dumplings and then brown them in a heavy skillet with a little preheated oil.  After the dumplings have browned, add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan with about a quarter inch of water and cover tightly to steam cook the insides of the dumplings.  When the water is absorbed and steamed away, the steaming sound will stop and that should signal that the dumplings are cooked through.  Test one to make sure since your stove may be hotter or colder than mine.  Add more water and steam them some more if you need to. To make a vegetarian version of the filling recipe you may substitute any of the following:  cabbage, leeks, spinach, tofu or carrot.  Just chop these finely and substitute them for the meat to make two cups for the recipe.  Vegans can skip the fish sauce and substitute soy sauce for a good vegan version.  But there are eggs in most dumpling wrappers so read the ingredients list carefully.  Try rice flour wrappers which have no eggs in them but they are dry so they must be soaked in water briefly before stuffing them. For the sauce, just combine all the dipping sauce ingredients.  If you have ever had Chinese steamed dumplings in a restaurant, this sauce will be a very familiar taste.  No cooking is necessary for this sauce.  Just combine them and let them site for a while for the flavors to develop. Whew – this is a lot of work!  But you can freeze these and use them when ever you want. The dumplings are really good, so give this a try at least once.