This might sound shocking, but I have to say it: potstickers might be my favorite food. They are my go-to meal when I'm home alone for dinner and my favorite crowd-pleasing appetizer. I even eat them cold for airplane meals. On top of this, you can fill them with anything under the sun and freeze them for handy weeknight meals. This particular combination of rich shiitake mushrooms, chewy baked tofu, and silky cabbage is like an old and very dear friend, one that I never tire of seeing.
I eat plenty of frozen potstickers from the store, but I also love the rhythm of making my own. It takes some time, but it's an achievable goal with dependably delicious results. You also end up making a lot, which can be frozen for future meals.
These particular potstickers came about when I wanted a vegetarian meal to pack up for lunches or take on planes — something that could go unrefrigerated for a few hours. After toying with the recipe — a little more ginger, swapping baked tofu for fresh tofu, settling on shiitake mushrooms — these have become my favorite. They are the perfect little one-bite package: mild at first nibble and then bursting with satisfying umami flavors.
Oh, and don't skip the step where you squeeze the cooked cabbage. This is important for getting rid of the excess moisture and making sure these dumplings stay compact, dense, and perfectly chewy, just like a good potsticker should be.
Shiitake Mushroom & Tofu Potstickers
4 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and caps diced small
1 pound napa cabbage, quartered down the length and thinly sliced across (about 5 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
6 to 7 ounces baked tofu (see Recipe Note)
3 to 4 scallions, thinly sliced across
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 large egg, beaten (optional, see Recipe Note)
To serve: soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, red pepper flakes
Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the diced shiitake mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened and turning golden brown. Add the cabbage and the teaspoon of salt to the pan. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the cabbage is completely wilted, 3-4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside until cool enough to handle.
Meanwhile, crumble the tofu into a large mixing bowl. Add the scallions, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and black pepper. Stir to combine.
Squeeze handfuls of the cooled mushroom-cabbage mixture in your fist to squeeze out as much moisture as possible and transfer to the tofu mixture. Stir to combine all the ingredients and taste. Add more of any of the seasonings to taste. If using the egg, thoroughly mix it into the filling mixture. (You should have about 3 cups of filling total.)
Set a bowl of water and a baking sheet lined with parchment paper near your workspace. Lay several dumpling wrappers on the work surface and place a scant tablespoon of filling in the middle of each. Dip a finger in the water and run it around the edge of the first dumpling wrapper. Fold the wrapper over and pinch it closed. If the wrapper opens again, dab it with a little water and pinch again. Repeat with remaining wrappers until all the filling is used.
At this point, the potstickers can be cooked immediately or frozen for later meals. If freezing, arrange them as closely as possible on the baking sheet without touching. Freeze until solid, then transfer to a freezer container and freeze for up to three months. Potstickers can be cooked straight from the freezer while still frozen.
To cook the potstickers, heat a large skillet (with the lid nearby) over medium-high heat and coat the bottom with about a tablespoon of oil. Place as many dumplings in the pan as will fit in a single layer without touching. Cook until the bottoms have turned golden-brown, 1-2 minutes.
Pour 3 tablespoons of water into the pat and immediately cover with a tight fitting lid. Turn the heat to low and steam the dumplings for 3-5 minutes if fresh or 6-8 minutes if frozen, until all the water is absorbed and the wrappers are translucent. If you'd like even crunchier bottoms, return the heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until the bottoms are as crispy as you like them.
Transfer potstickers to a serving platter and repeat with remaining dumplings. Serve immediately with soy sauce mixed with rice wine vinegar and red pepper flakes for dipping.
- Baked tofu can usually be found in the refrigerated part of the produce section along with the fresh tofu. Try to find one with only light seasoning. If baked tofu can't be found, use 7 to 8 ounces of extra-firm tofu and press it beneath something heavy to expel the as much liquid as possible before cooking. Or make your own baked tofu!
- The egg helps to bind the filling together, making it easier to handle as you shape the potstickers and giving the potstickers a more compact texture. However, if you are vegan or planning to make these potstickers ahead to eat on the go, you can skip the egg.
- If shiitake mushrooms can't be found, substitute baby bella mushrooms.
(Images: Emma Christensen)