Loser double fennel potstickers

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Being competitive has never been part of my persona.  It isn’t one of the virtues of being a quitter, which I like to use as the reason I was never good at sports and why until this very day, I still cannot technically swim (but I float professionally).   It’s not that I’m not into winning but just that I don’t like to be proven losing.  I’m a walking cliche.  But recently I have been braving the turbulent water for the love of my new favorite website and the recipe contest they throw every two weeks.

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I entered two contests thus far and both didn’t even make it to the final rounds, which theoretically would have put my mind into the same state of a cautious clam who just got firmly tapped on its head.  But instead I reached a new understanding about being a loser.  The trick to losing is… Not minding that it hurts.  Yes.  After a couple of times, one grows a skin so thick it becomes the foundation of an elusive concept called determination.  So here I am going to share the ousted recipe with you guys in the hope that someday I could quote the story in my acceptance speech.

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The contest was your best fennel recipe.  Honestly, I didn’t have the best fennel recipe.  I just had one fennel recipe.  Fennel isn’t a familiar vegetable in my cooking repertoire and I know of only one way that takes it to the yummy town, that is using the fronds to infuse the filling in Chinese dumplings.  But why use only one form of fennel if I have many, and why settle for dumplings when potstickers are still alive?  So it only took two tests in the kitchen to make way for this double fennel potstickers, with a bottom crust so crispy you could hear it crack and a filling so juicy it squirts when you bite (consider yourself warned).  Ok, Maybe I could picture a judge arguing that fennel isn’t the sole star of the show which is exactly when I would like another judge to utterly disagree… Don’t you love it when they fight.   So, yes.  A losing contender in an unappreciative crowd but I promise  it will make you a winner in your own kitchen.

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Servings: approx 50 potstickers

Ingredients:

  • Dumplings/potstickers:
    • 670 grams of fatty ground pork (40% fat preferred)
    • 1 cup (45 g) of chopped fennel leaves/fronds
    • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds (or 1/4 tsp ground), toasted
    • 1 tsp grated ginger
    • 2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
    • 1 1/2 tbsp corn starch
    • 1 tbsp sesame oil
    • 3/4 tsp ground white pepper
    • 1/2 tsp dashi granule
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 4 tbsp water
    • 55 dumpling wrappers
  • Dipping sauce:
    • 1 1/2 tbsp of sesame oil
    • 1/4 tsp of ground fennel
    • 1/2 tsp of chili flakes
    • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed
    • 3 tbsp of soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp of dark vinegar
    • 1 tbsp of white rice vinegar

Toast the fennel seeds in a pan until slightly fragrant.  Mix all the ingredients under “dumpling” together (except for the dumpling wrapper).  Do not over-work the meat.  Mix it JUST until the ingredients come together.  Over-mixing will develop gluten in the meat and when you bite into the dumpling, the filling would “fall out” as one small meatball which I consider to be one of the biggest No-No when it comes to dumplings.

Generously flour the working surface.  Take a dumpling wrapper and place approx 1 tbsp of filling in the middle.  Dab a little water on the edge and close the dumpling up.  It doesn’t have to be perfect but you do have to make sure you don’t puncture the wrapper.  Repeat until all the filling is used up.  Generously dust flours all over the dumpling.  Do not be afraid to flour them because the flour will create the “crust” on the bottom when it’s cooked.  You can place them on a plate to freeze them (transfer to a zip-lock bag once they have harden) until needed.

To make the dipping sauce, heat the sesame oil, ground fennel and chili flake in a small sauce pan until it starts to sizzle.  Remove from the heat and add the garlic, soy sauce, dark vinegar and white vinegar. Stir and set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a NON STICK pan over medium heat.  Arrange the dumplings on the pan (straight out of the freezer is fine) but make sure they don’t touch each other, otherwise they will stick and break open when you try to remove them and all the juice would be lost.  Pan fry them for 1 minute then add 3 tbsp of water (for approx 20 dumplings) into the pan and close the lid.  Keep on medium heat and let the dumping steam inside the pan until ALL THE WATER has evaporated.  Remove the lid and check if a crust has form on the bottom of the dumpling.  If not, keep pan frying them for another minute until the bottom is golden brown.  Remove them one by one from the pan and serve with the dipping sauce.

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10 Comments

  • Lady Mandy, those babies look mighty delic. to me. and pretty damn creative. I mean fennel in pot-stickers!?

    What the heck won?

    love your humor love the blog. When do you get to go back to NYC? (or are you wondering the same thing =D
    -ml

  • YUUUUUUUUM! They look so good! And they’re so perfectly formed! Mine always stick to the pot too much and end up looking mangled.

    • Sarah, you have to use a nonstick pan!! And keep them apart from each other! I first tried using a cast iron pan and it was a disaster!

  • I love these. Every week, i go to a food market or what we call “pasar malam” here in Malaysia, and i would buy these. Now, i can make em myself! :D

    • Cheryl, I love Malaysian foods! Wow the thought of a Malaysian style potsticker makes my mouth water!

  • Came across your blog by accident today. Must admit this is one of the most original and refreshing food blogs I’ve read in a while. Totally hooked!
    I love your pot stickers–they look really pretty!
    Although, I thought the meat is supposed to be thoroughly mixed with the salty seasoning first to develop the gluten, then loosen with water –in the North, a lot of people use Sichuan peppercorn infused water. The aromatics are added later, and the oil. The veg always goes in last and is only gently mixed in. The idea is to create a filling with a bit of “spring” and “bite”, but not too firm. This technique makes the filling more juicy. Corn starch is indeed used when making meat balls but not in dumpling filling as it traps the juice in.
    Of course, how you like your dumplings is entirely down to personal taste…:)

    • YY, you are absolutely correct! In a lot of Chinese/Asian stye cooking, the ground meat is vigorously churned to create gluten which gives it that “spring” and “bite”. But it also tends to hold the meat together, because that’s what gluten does! I hate it when I bit into a dumpling and the filling falls out like a ball, if you know what I mean. I like them more relaxed, filling the dumpling but not “tumbling” inside. All in all, I didn’t churn the fillings because of it.

      Your information on the peppercorn water totally rocks! I’m going to apply that to my next dumpling making session :)

  • I love the sound of these too. Thanks for the recipe – I’m now following your blog. Which makes me sound like a stalker. But that’s what the blogging community seems to want us all to be!

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