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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Pot stickers only limited by imagination

As I sit here looking at the maddening schedule that comprises my spring semester, I realize just how much I look forward to summertime. The flurry of student activities, classes, extracurricular events and networking events leaves no time to slow down; no rest for the weary, as it were …
Or at least unless it snows, or more to the point, “snow-rains” or “snains,” as it has a number of times recently.
Expecting to go into work a couple hours late on Monday, I was surprised to learn that the college was closed, so losing no time we donned our snow bibs, gloves and hats in order to have one more snowball fight. Who knows? Maybe that will be the last one of the year. Regardless, we were happy to imbibe in the snowy slaughter before the rain set in.
We were fortunate enough to build yet another snowman taller than my two younger kids before it was rapidly reduced to one big ice ball on Monday. I know we have been fortunate for the past few years with real snow storms, but sometimes all it takes is a bizarre freak of nature of a storm to bring the lower-slower to its knees in an abysmally long and dreary damp winter, such as the one in which we find ourselves at present.
After an hour or so, soaking wet and with a few red marks where we were hit by the fluffy missiles, my youngest son and I set out to cook something good in the kitchen. As he had never made pot stickers before, and as I had a hankering for aforementioned pot stickers, I decided that was the logical choice.
Known as Chinese pan-fried and steamed dumplings, pot stickers are actually found throughout Asia, and you are only limited by your imagination as to what you will put inside of them.  
Basically, you make wontons with a flat bottom, fry them in a small amount of sesame oil (which typically makes them stick to the bottom of the pot – get it?) and then zap them with a little chicken stock and place a lid on top immediately. This steams them to completion and leaves them doughy on the top part of the dumpling with a nice toasty (albeit now soft) bottom. Served with a simple sauce of good soy sauce and ginger, nothing else is needed.
I like to put raw mushrooms inside my filling, as they are primarily water with a little fungus attached. As the dumplings steam, the moisture from the mushrooms stays inside with the filling, lending their moisture to the already delicious filling. In fact, this trick is great with all kinds of stuffing. Just keep the mushrooms raw, and they’ll release their water and their essence into the finished dish.
It can be a bit difficult for me to teach my own kids to cook, a common plight I hear from most parents, in that kids typically don’t take direction from their own. That seems to be a fact of life. However, on a rare occasion I will get the opportunity to spend time with the kids and teach them a thing or two in the kitchen.
For Valentine’s Day dinner (the most romantic dinner-for-eight ever) my son and his girlfriend made an absolutely perfect pastry cream. It was wonderful to watch them work through the process, and in the end the profiteroles were perfect.
So, as I wait for summer to come and dread my schedule for the next two months, I will relish in the fact that I have had more kids cooking in my kitchen this week than I have in a very long time. Hopefully, that will make this spring fly by, and the upcoming summer a season to remember.

My Version of Pot stickers

Makes about 32 pot stickers
1/2 cup Finely sliced leeks
Sesame oil, as needed
2 Tbsp. Minced garlic
2 Tbsp. Minced ginger
1/2 pound Ground beef
1/2 pound Ground pork
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. Fish sauce
Ground black pepper, to taste
Soy sauce, to taste
1/4 cup Finely chopped, raw mushrooms
32 Wonton wrappers
1/2 cup Chicken stock
1 cup Kikkoman’s soy sauce
1 Tbsp. Smashed ginger (for the soy)
Scallions, for garnish

1. Sautee leeks, garlic and ginger in a small amount of sesame oil and allow to cool
2. Combine with beef, pork, lime juice, fish sauce, pepper, soy and mushrooms
3. Heat a pan and cook a small “tester”: patty up a small piece and cook it to check the flavors. Adjust as needed
4. For dipping sauce, combine one cup of soy sauce with the smashed ginger and allow to steep
5. The wonton wrappers are typically square, so cut them round with a cutter to make the classic shape easier to attain
6. Place 1/2 ounce of filling on a wonton wrapper and wipe the edges with a little water
7. Close the wonton up and seal the edge
8. Water the outsides, and then crimp the wrapper to give it the classic pot sticker shape
9. When all of the pot stickers are ready, heat some sesame oil and cook the bottom until they are crispy and brown
10. Add the chicken stock and place a lid on top to steam
11. When they are cooked throughout, remove from heat and place on a plate with the sauce and some scallions for garnish