Dumpling presses and New Year’s Con Traditions

Last year for New Year’s Con, I finally made a non-wonton soup recipe. For years, I’d make wontons ahead of the con, freeze them, and then only have to cook them in beef or vegetable broth for 6 or 7 minutes. It was a tasty recipe that meant I didn’t step away from the con for long, people were fed quickly, and apparently it was tasty enough that people asked for it after a couple years.

The problem? One serving was 4-6 wontons. Even if I was fast enough to place the filling and seal one wonton every 30 seconds, that’s 2-3 minutes per person and at 12 people to feed, 30 to 45 minutes prep time.

I am not that fast. Prep time ahead of the con was at 1.25 hours and rising. Even with both Adam and I doing the wonton creation. And let me tell you, folding dumplings gets rather boring after a while, especially when both people involved have to concentrate on what they’re doing instead of being able to chat. So, things tended to slow down as we made ’em.

Yes, it took about 3 years for me to put my foot down. And what happens when I do? The recipe I pick is a flop – I’d picked a pocket sandwich kind of thing, and it just took too long to make the next sandwich. Lunch sort of … metastasized to over 2 hours.

Tasted pretty good though….

So, the con committee (i.e. three of my closest friends) offered to buy me a dumpling press, to see if that sped things up enough that I’d be willing to do wontons again. This is the recipe I decided to use to test that out. Because why wouldn’t I try a new recipe – how else am I going to improve my skills? 🙂

Lessons learned:
1) green cabbage can substitute reasonably well for napa cabbage if you can’t find any; although napa cabbage is still best
2) thin slices of cabbage are hard to do
a) so I need to improve my knife skills and
b) try out a food processor next time
3) my press is larger than 3 inches in diameter and if I use 3 inch dumpling wrappers, I need to pay attention to where in the well the filling is or I may end up with funny looking potstickers
a) use larger wrappers (if I can find them)
4) If you don’t pay close attention to dumplings frying in the wok, the wrappers will meld to the pan and you will loose dumpling bits when getting them off

5) folding dumplings is still annoying but not I-hate-this-before-I-eat-it-out-of-ANNOYANCE!! annoying.

So, wonton soup is probably on for the next New Year’s Con. Just got to buy a 2nd press for Adam.

Chinese New Year Potstickers

original from The Sweet and Sour Chronicles
makes about 40 dumplings

Recipe Count – 17 left
Section Count – Black Binder: 10 more left, Subsection – Appetizers: 2 more

  • 8 oz napa or green cabbage
  • 1 lb lean ground chicken or pork
  • 1 bunch of green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black or white pepper
  • dumpling wrappers
  • oil
  1. Cut the cabbage into very thin strips. In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, ground meat, green onions, wine, cornstarch, salt and pepper.
  2. Place 1 tsp to 1 tbsp, depending on the size of the wrappers, of the meat mixture in the center of a wrapper. Pinch the edges together by hand or using a dumpling press. Repeat until all wrappers or meat mixture has been used up.
  3. Heat a tbsp of oil in wok or skillet until hot and shimmery. Add a single layer of dumplings and fry until the bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water, cover, and cook for 6-7 minutes or until water is absorbed. Repeat for remaining dumplings. Serve.

We added our dumplings to a bowl of miso soup. But if you want to eat them on their own, a dipping sauce you can use is 1/4 cup soy sauce mixed with 1 tsp sesame oil. Or, you know, your favorite prepared one. 🙂

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