I first tasted potstickers in the late 1980s at the tiny Mandarin Deli in Los Angeles’s Chinatown. Behind the glass window, a dumpling maker steadily worked, rolling out thin wrappers, filling them, and creating large pea pod–shaped dumplings. I watched intently, distracted only when my fragrant pot stickers arrived. The hearty dumplings were so hot that I burned my mouth, but they were well worth the minor injury.
Potstickers supposedly started out as boiled dumplings that a chef forgot about in the wok (“guō”) and they stuck (“tiē”) after the water had cooked away. His guests loved the contrast between succulent filling, tender-chewy skin, and crusty bottom, and thus the potsticker was born. The modern way to mimic the chef’s delicious accident is to cook potstickers in a skillet with water and oil, which steams the dumplings and fries their bottoms to a golden, toasty finish. They are technically called jiānjiǎo in Chinese, which means shallow-fried dumplings; but in the West, we commonly know them as potstickers and panfried dumplings. “Fried” dumplings can be panfried or deep-fried.
Watch Andrea Nguyen demonstrate how to wrap a dumpling in this CHOW video.
This recipe was featured as part of our Chinese New Year Dishes for Valentine’s Day photo gallery.