So, potstickers continue to reinforce two things for me.  One, that I will never win anything that involves making my cooking pretty (see the bottom photo for evidence of this). Two, that while I may start a recipe to try to invoke a zen state of calm (see: folding potstickers, which takes patience and a hell of a lot of time), I will likely end up getting impatient about halfway through and attempting to find a way that works better – in this case, double wrappers, and making the final wrapped product look more like shumai more than potstickers.  And trust me, this recipe takes a pretty long time; total time for me was something around an hour and a half to two hours.

As your farmers markets are coming into season, be sure to check there for your vegetables.  For the most part, you can get some hella good deals on fresh veggies, and they taste better.  Witness: when peas inevitably come into season out here, I’ll be buying several pounds worth (one of the stalls sells them pre-shelled) and freezing them for future use.  For now, though, I used grocery store asparagus (which was way more expensive than the stuff I picked up yesterday) and frozen peas.

General note: I skipped the scallions and chives, here, as they aren’t quite in season at the farmers market (where they’re typically a buck for a large bunch), and they’re expensive otherwise around here.

Spring Vegetable Potstickers 
Makes between 25 to 50 potstickers (depending on if you single or double wrap them)

Ingredients: 

Potsticker Filling: 

  • 3 to 3.25 c of spring veggies (SK suggests asparagus, fava or lima beans, peas; I chopped up about ¾ lb of asparagus and used 2/3rds of a 16 oz bag of frozen peas)
  • 1 T neutral cooking oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 T minced ginger
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 oz tofu, chopped small (about half of a 12 oz package)
  • 1 t toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ t salt

To Assemble and Cook: 

  • 1 T cornstarch and ½ c water
  • 1 package dumpling wrappers (I got wonton wrappers, and that gave about 50 wrappers, but they were too thin; SK had success with mandu wrappers.  Look for dumpling wrappers, or, if you’re more crazy than me, make your own!)
  • 1-2 T more of the neutral cooking oil mentioned above
  • ¼ to ½ c water

Dipping Sauce: 

  • ¼ c rice vinegar
  • ¼ c soy sauce
  • 1 T sesame oil

Prep your veggies (I recommend googling best prep methods depending on what you have; for asparagus, I chopped up the stalks, and if they were thicker, sliced them in half and chopped those up, and the peas I left whole).  Add 1 T of oil to your pan, and heat to medium. Once that’s ready, add your veggies in order of time it’ll take to get them crisp and cooked through. Asparagus typically takes about 4 mins, and peas 2 to 3 mins (a bit longer if you’re using frozen, like I was). Once they’re done, add the tofu, and cook for about a minute more, and season with salt and remove to a separate bowl, and mix with the sesame oil.  

SK recommends draining off excess moisture; I ended up not doing so.  Don’t think it made that much difference in the final product. If the mixture is still too thick, chop it up (DO NOT PUREE) using a knife and a cutting board, or a blender.  Mine was mostly peas, chopped asparagus, and tofu, along with minced/chopped ginger and garlic, so I left it like it was.  Might chop it up next time. 

To assemble, have a tray ready to put your finished potstickers on (I used a pizza sheet and didn’t oil it, though SK recommends either oiling or parchment paper).  Mix the water and cornstarch, which will be your glue for the wrappers. Have a plate next to your bowl of filling. Once you open your package of wrappers, either use plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to keep the wrappers from drying out.  I didn’t use it, but they didn’t dry out, for the most part.

To assemble your potstickers, brush a wrapper with the cornstarch/water mixture, and set it on the plate. Scoop ½ T of filling (I typically used about a T, and that was a bit too much) onto the center of the wrapper.  Now, SK has a pretty solid picture guide for how to attempt to seal and crease the wrappers.  I tried doing this with single wrappers, then double wrappers, but they never quite worked for me.  The method I ended up going with for the last half or so of the potstickers was to fold the four corners to the center and pinch them shut, and then put that wrapper in the middle of another wet one and do the same, sealing shut with the cornstarch/water mixture. Do whatever works best for you.  😛  Do this until you run out of wrappers, and after that’s done, you can either freeze them for later cooking, or cook them right away. You may have leftover mixture; if it’s still mostly whole like mine, keep it as a side!  Otherwise, save and freeze for future use. I also had leftover tofu, and will likely be using it to make Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce.  

Once you’re ready to make your potstickers, heat up your skillet (yes, I used it the same one I used to make the filling, just cleaned it out after) with the oil to medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the potstickers in a single layer and cook until the bottom is browned (at least a minute or two). Add water (smaller amt for a smaller batch, larger amt for a larger batch, which will hiss and sputter if it’s hot enough), and cover, cooking for 2 to 3 mins more.  Remove the lid, and simmer until any remaining water (there shouldn’t be a lot left) has simmered away.

Make your dipping sauce by combining all the ingredients.  If you’d like a sweeter sauce, add ½ t brown sugar or honey.

And then, freaking finally, EAT THEM.

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So, last dish for tonight is Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce!  With this one especially, you are going to notice something: I don’t really go for pretty (as I’m cooking for just me, and not to impress/for someone else), or for extra garnishes unless they add flavor.  So, sometimes, I will just straight up ignore things if they make it difficult, or annoying (or if I’m being lazy, and it doesn’t fundamentally change the recipe).  😛 That’s why the scallions aren’t here, and the sesame seeds aren’t chopped and toasted.  

Also added okaka (dried bonito flakes) to the top, cause it’s vaguely reminiscent of a side I had at the dorm I lived in during my study abroad in Japan, and was really good. Not gonna include it in the recipe itself, as it may not be something you typically have on hand, but if you do, worth a shot.

Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce
Lasted: until the next morning, though honestly, that was because it was really good, and letting it sit cold in everything overnight made it fantastic.  More accurately, lasts about three lunches as a side.

Ingredients

  • 1 package (14 to 18 oz) tofu (no particular insight on what particular kind you should use for this recipe, I used silken lite firm tofu, will probably edit with any future insights  Having now used silken and non silken, I can say I like the taste/feel of silken better, but that it crumbles easier. Lite firm generally seems to be the way to go with this)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped (see prior notes about me and garlic)
  • 2 t sesame seeds
  • 3 T soy sauce
  • 1 T Asian sesame sauce
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ t sugar

Rinse tofu, put in small pot and cover with cold water, and put the burner to medium high heat, until simmering (aka gentle bubbling, but not out and out boiling). While this is happening, take your chopped garlic and bash it into a paste.  Don’t have a mortar and pestle? No problem!  Just use your rolling pin to bash it into submission.  (This also may help with stress relief.)  After it’s a paste, combine with all other remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  As soon as the tofu is simmering, reduce heat to low for a few minutes. As soon as you’re ready to serve (or store), drain the water out of the pot and either pat the tofu dry or just put it in your container, like I did.  Pour the sauce over it, and you’re ready to go!