Pho Pot Stickers
"The Pho Cookbook"
“While I was writing this book, a Facebook friend asked how I’d go about making a pho-like dumpling. Instead of taking the convoluted route to create a graduate-level Shanghai-style soup-filled dumpling, I chose easier pot stickers. Anyone can make them from store-bought wrappers. (If you have my Asian Dumplings cookbook, make fresh wrappers for an extra treat.)
The filling includes elements of pho. You’ll use the same aromatics and spices, as well as a little pho broth, pho fat, and fish sauce. The dipping sauce features soy sauce, which works better with the wheat-based wrapper. These freeze well, so make some in advance and trot them out for company as an impressive snack. See Notes for a meatless option.” —Andrea Nguyen in her 2018 Beard Award–winning The Pho Cookbook.
- 2 to 3 teaspoons peeled and minced ginger (use more for lamb)
- 1 Fresno or jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh Thai basil, cilantro, or mint
- 1⁄3 cup finely chopped green onion, white and green parts
- 1⁄8 teaspoon pepper
- 1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice Powder
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1⁄4 cup pho broth (match the ground meat used) or low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 1⁄2 tablespoons melted pho fat or canola or other neutral oil
- 8 ounces ground beef chuck, dark-meat chicken (thigh meat), or lamb
- 1⁄2 to 1 1⁄4 teaspoons cornstarch (optional)
- 1 1⁄2 to 2 tablespoons regular soy sauce
- 1⁄4 cup Garlic Vinegar
- 3 to 5 slices Fresno or jalapeño chile, or 1 Thai chile, partially split lengthwise (optional)
- 24 to 30 round dumpling wrappers (“pot sticker” or “gyoza” skins)
- 1 1⁄2 to 2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil, plus more as needed
Make the filling: in a bowl, stir together the ginger, chile, basil (or other herb), green onion, pepper, salt, spice blend, fish sauce, broth, and fat. Taste the mixture and add extra salt, fish sauce, or spice blend to create a pho-like flavor. Add the ground meat and vigorously stir with a fork until the liquid disappears. If the mixture feels too soft to handle, add the cornstarch; the amount used depends on the meat (chicken is more moist than beef or lamb) and your preference. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes or refrigerate for up to 2 days before using.
Make the sauce: combine the soy sauce, vinegar, and chile for a lightly salty, tangy, spicy dipping sauce; set at the table.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust it with flour.
Make the dumplings: Lay 4 to 6 wrappers on your work surface. Brush the edges of the wrappers with water. For each dumpling, hold a wrapper in a slightly cupped hand. Use a dinner knife or teaspoon to scoop up 2 to 3 teaspoons of the filling (the amount depends on the wrapper size). Place it slightly off-center toward the upper half of the wrapper. Shape it into a flat mound and keep a knuckle’s length (3⁄4 inch) of wrapper clear on all sides.
Create your favorite shape. Otherwise, bring up the wrapper edge closest to you to close, then press to seal well and create a half-moon. To help the dumpling sit up during panfrying, make a series of large pleats at the rim from one end to the other, firmly pressing into place. (Or, form two small pleats near the center, pressing firmly to hold.)
As the dumplings are made, place them, not touching, on the prepared baking sheet. Cover finished ones with a dry kitchen towel to prevent drying.
To cook, use a medium or large nonstick skillet; if both sizes are handy, cook 2 batches at once. Heat the skillets over medium-high. Add 1 1⁄2 to 2 tablespoons oil (use more for a large skillet). Add the dumplings, placing them sealed edges up in a winding circle pattern or several straight rows. Let them touch. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden or light brown (lift one to check).
Holding a lid (or piece of foil) close to the skillet as a shield, use a kettle or measuring cup to add about 1⁄4 inch of water, roughly 1⁄3 cup. Cover the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Let cook until the water is mostly gone, 4 to 6 minutes. After about 3 minutes, slide the lid ajar for venting.
When you hear gentle frying (most of the water is gone), uncover. Fry the dumplings for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp the bottoms. Turn off the heat. When the sizzling stops, use a spatula to transfer the dumplings to a serving plate, displaying them crisp bottoms up. Eat with the dipping sauce.
Notes: To make tofu pho pot stickers, replace the meat with 8 ounces super-firm tofu (such as Wildwood brand sold in vacuum-sealed packages). Blot moisture from the tofu and use the coarse and medium holes on a box grater to create an uneven texture. Omit the broth, as the tofu is very moist. Use a scant 1 1⁄2 tablespoons regular soy sauce and bind with 1 teaspoon cornstarch. Keep the other ingredients the same. Shape and cook as usual.
Assembled dumplings can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for 2 hours. Cook them straight from the fridge. Or, freeze dumplings on the baking sheet, and after they’re rock hard, transfer to a zipper plastic bag to store up to 3 months; partially thaw for about 15 minutes on a baking sheet dusted with flour before panfrying as instructed above.
Don’t want to panfry the dumplings? Steam them over boiling water for 6 to 8 minutes, until slightly puffed and somewhat translucent. Line steamer trays with parchment paper (keep the edges uncovered for heat circulation) and lightly oil to prevent sticking.
Unused wrappers can be refrigerated for a good week (use these to make another batch). For extra-crispy pot stickers, dip the dumpling bottoms (the spine) in lots of cornstarch before panfrying. The water added during cooking will create a lacy crisp layer on the skillet.
When making gluten-free dumplings, use a wheat-free soy sauce; search Vietworldkitchen.com for “How to make gluten-free pot stickers” to locate a wrapper recipe.
Reprinted with permission from The Pho Cookbook: Easy to Adventurous Recipes for Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles by Andrea Nguyen, copyright © 2017. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
4 to 6 servings