Here they are… our first batch of dumplings. Pot stickers, to be specific, but who is really that specific when dealing with second graders’ lunches?
The party’s over.
Or at least the my-kid’s-school-has-a-lunch-program-so-I-don’t-have-to-deal-with-packing-a-daily-lunchbox party is over. She just wasn’t eating the food, and I was forced to admit that a rice cake and some juice that she was given as a substitute does not a nutritious meal make. If I want to help that little brain to grow, I’m going to have to suck it up and make her lunch. Every day.
What a nightmare.
Or at least, at first it seemed like a nightmare. But once I realized that she can heat up her food (do I have the only child on earth that doesn’t really like sandwiches?) I decided to take this as an opportunity, rather than just a burden. At the very least I finally have something to do with all of the slightly less than full portion leftovers I have from dinners past.
But sometimes there aren’t any leftovers. For those days, if you’ve planned ahead (a new skill I am developing in spades in 2015) there are dumplings. Which you have made in bulk with your kid (fun activity!) and stored in the freezer in single serving size packs for just such a moment.
Here’s the scenario. You put your little angel to bed, you then open the fridge to see what you’re going to cobble together for lunch the next day. Nothing appropriate. It’s freezing outside, so running to the deli is not an attractive option. You then remember the dumplings in the freezer. You jump for joy (but only internally… on the exterior you remain all calm like “of course this what was I was planning all along”) and take one of your little pot sticker packets out of the freezer and stick it in the fridge. Cook ‘em up the next morning (which takes all of 5 minutes) and you’re good to go.
And lest you think that there is no way you could possibly manage to create something so exotic and complex, let me be the one to inform you that the most difficult part of this operation is finding the dumpling wrappers (which these days can be found in any grocery store with an Asian section.) And that isn’t all that hard, is it?
We used Mark Bittman’s super simple recipe 10 days ago and had a blast making 48 little suckers. We still have one or two lunches left in the freezer too! Here’s how we did it:
First we get the ground pork (but you can use any kind of ground meat, or even make a veggie version with cabbage, shiitake mushrooms and carrots) mix it with cabbage, scallions, ginger, garlic and a bit of soy sauce.
Then we place a spoonful onto the dumpling wrapper.
After we rub a tiny bit of beaten egg around the edges to act as glue, we carefully fold them in half, pressing the edges together…
And then they are ready to cook! The cooking is a 3 step process, but super quick. See the esteemed Mr Bittman’s recipe below for the exact methodology and then hop to it!
¾ pound ground pork or other meat
1 cup minced cabbage
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 tablespoons minced garlic
6 scallions, the white and green parts separated, both minced
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons good soy sauce
48 dumpling wrappers
1 egg, lightly beaten in a bowl
4 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil, more or less
¼ cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
Combine meat, cabbage, ginger, garlic, scallion whites and 2 tablespoons soy sauce in a bowl with 1/4 cup water. Lay a wrapper on a clean, dry surface, and using your finger or a brush, spread a bit of egg along half of its circumference. Place a rounded teaspoon of filling in center, fold over and seal by pinching edges together. (Do not overfill.) Place dumplings on a plate; if you want to wait a few hours before cooking, cover plate with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Or freeze, for up to two weeks.
To cook, put about 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet and turn heat to medium-high. A minute later, add dumplings, one at a time; they can touch one another, but should still sit flat in one layer. Cook about 2 minutes, or until bottoms are lightly browned. Add 1/4 cup water per dozen dumplings to pan, and cover. Lower heat to medium, and let simmer about 3 minutes.
To make the dipping sauce, combine remaining soy sauce, green parts of scallions and vinegar.
Uncover dumplings, return heat to medium-high and cook another minute or two, until bottoms are dark brown and crisp and water evaporates. (Use more oil if necessary.) Serve hot, with sauce.