A delicious appetizer fancy enough for a special occasion and tasty enough to fix at home just because? It may sound like it’s too good to be true, but it happens to be a favorite of New Jersey mom and recipe developer Cecilia Ryu, who shares her tasty creations on Instagram.
Ryu says this dish is so amazing and bursting with flavor that her kids love it, too — and every parent knows there’s nothing better than "grown up food" your kids will eat without complaint. While working with the wonton wrappers to whip up these incredible spicy chicken potstickers may seem a bit intimidating, they’re actually easy to master once you adhere to Ryu’s helpful hints.
It only takes an hour and 15 minutes to create these potstickers, and mere minutes to wolf them down (we’re guessing). They’re truly that fantastic, especially when you use Ryu’s delectable dipping sauce — both of which she’s sharing right here on Mashed.
What is sweet potato vermicelli—and why are we using it in potstickers?
An interesting ingredient in this recipe is the three ounces of sweet potato vermicelli — you may not have even heard of it before. Ryu explains that these are noodles made with sweet potato starch and water. They’re sold dried and need to be soaked or boiled before using, because they swell up and become pliable.
"Sometimes they’re called glass noodles because they appear glassy and transparent when cooked. They have a chewy texture and are naturally fat-free and low in calories. I usually add it to all of my dumpling/potsticker recipes because it adds a nice, soft texture to the dumplings," says Ryu. "It is flavorless so it absorbs all the seasonings that are inside the dumplings."
You can find sweet potato vermicelli in most Asian supermarkets or on Amazon. Ryu said it can be found in the Asian section of many supermarkets, and mentioned that it can sometimes even be found at Costco. However, if this ingredient proves elusive, you can substitute cellophane noodles, also found in Asian supermarkets or on Amazon, she said.
"They are basically the same thing, but made with a different type of starch, or you can leave it out," she explains. "These should not be confused with rice noodles, which do not become transparent when cooked and have a completely different texture."
Before you do anything else in this recipe, you’re going to start soaking the vermicelli in hot water. After 20 minutes, you’ll drain it, rinse it, and cut it into small pieces.
These potstickers start by prepping the filling
While the vermicelli soaks, you can start making the rest of the filling by shredding and chopping nine ounces of cabbage into small pieces. "It is important that the pieces are chopped small. Green cabbage would be my recommendation, as purple cabbage may change the color of the filling," Ryu adds.
You’re also going to thinly slice four scallions, finely dice one carrot, and chop four large shitake mushrooms. Cecilia said shitake mushrooms have a distinct flavor and add more depth to the potstickers. "If you cannot find shitake mushrooms, you can substitute with the same amount of cremini mushrooms, but personally, if a recipe calls for shitake, I wouldn’t substitute it for anything else," she explains.
Finally, chop four Thai chilis, which can be found among fresh peppers at the store. "They are very small, but very spicy. They pack a big punch so you don’t need to use that many. If you cannot find them, you can substitute with serrano or jalapeno peppers. Any spicy pepper will work," Ryu notes.
All those chopped veggies go into a large bowl, along with the raw ground chicken and the vermicelli. If you don’t have ground chicken, substitute with ground pork, Ryu advises.
Now it’s time for the perfect potsticker seasoning
Now it’s time to whip up the seasoning, which is bursting with flavor, and is what will bring all the rest of the filling together. It calls for soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, minced garlic for some kick, brown sugar, white miso, black pepper, and mirin — also known as sweet cooking rice wine. Mix all of these in a small bowl, then pour it over the chicken, veggies, and vermicelli, and mix well.
Mirin is similar to sake, but has more sugar and a lower alcohol content. It pairs especially well with soy sauce, but if you can’t find it in your local grocery store in its purest form (usually placed with the vinegars), bigger brands like Kikkoman will label theirs as "aji-mirin," which translates to "tastes like mirin." If you’re really in a crunch, you can sub in a dry sherry or a sweet marsala wine, according to Bon Apetite.
Stuffing the wonton wrappers is not as hard as you think
Now it’s time to assemble the potstickers — don’t let this step scare you. It’s really not hard once you get the hang of it.
Take one of the 60 wonton wrappers and place it on the palm of your non-dominant hand. While working with this one, be sure to keep the rest of the wonton wrappers covered with a damp towel so they don’t dry out. Take one teaspoon (and only one teaspoon!) of the tantalizing chicken filling and place it in the center of the wonton. Dip your finger in a bowl of water and rub it onto half of the exposed wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half and seal just the top closed shut, using the water. Use your index finger and, working your way from the top center, pinch and create three small pleats on one side of the wonton wrapper, sealing it shut. Repeat this step on the other side of the wonton wrapper. If the wrapper is being stubborn and won’t seal tightly, rub a bit more water onto the edge of the wrapper.
"Wonton/dumpling wrappers can be found in the freezer section of a grocery store. Sometimes after defrosting the wrappers, the edges can be dried out which make them hard to seal," explains Ryu. "In that case, I usually cover them completely with a damp (not wet) paper towel and place in a Ziploc bag or cover with plastic wrap for a couple of hours. In most cases, it will make the edges soft."
She adds that if the wrappers completely dry out, they’re no longer usable.
Pop the potstickers in the skillet
Once the wonton wrappers are filled with the spectacularly spicy chicken filling, it’s time to cook the potstickers — this is the really fun part.
Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Place 12 potstickers in a single layer in the skillet, and cook them for five to eight minutes, or until the bottoms have browned. Then carefully pour one-quarter of a cup of water in the hot skillet and cover with the lid, lowering the heat to medium. Cook until the water has evaporated and the potstickers are cooked all the way through, which takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
"The term ‘potstickers’ basically refers to the method that a dumpling is cooked. It’s crispy on the bottom and steamed everywhere else," Ryu says. "Rumor has it that a Chinese chef intended to boil jiaozi (dumplings) in a wok but walked away and returned to find all of the water boiled off… The dumpling stuck to the pan and got crispy, which is how [it] got its name of potsticker, which literally means ‘stuck to the wok.’"
Delicious dipping sauce is the final touch for these potstickers
Ryu’s soy dipping sauce is a must have for this dish, and is so much better than just a bowl of soy sauce on its own. The sauce is the perfect complement to the spicy chicken filling of these potstickers. She combines soy sauce, white vinegar, and one small piece of ginger cut into matchsticks to infuse flavor. The recipe also calls for a pinch of roasted sesame seeds for an extra punch of flavor.
For many dishes, slicing ginger into matchsticks (or julienning) releases its flavor while maintaining visible pieces throughout the sauce. Sesame seeds can be bought already toasted or, simply toast sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. You can also bake them on an ungreased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Freeze a batch for eating later on
Surprisingly, these spicy chicken potstickers can be frozen and saved for later use. Simply line a large tray with parchment paper and place the fully cooked potstickers on it in a single layer with space between each. Place in the freezer and once frozen clear through, gently place them in a tightly sealed freezer bag where they can stay for up to three months. Cecilia advises to make sure the potstickers are not touching each other or else they’ll freeze stuck together.
"If you don’t have room in your freezer to fit a tray, you can line a plate with parchment and fit as many potstickers on the plate as possible. Then, cut small parchment squares(3"x3") and place in between each potsticker. The parchment on the bottom of the tray or plate is used so they don’t stick to the bottom. The parchment placed in between will prevent them from sticking to each other. Essentially, you can fit a lot more potstickers on the tray and place a piece a parchment in between each, too. I make a large batch several times a year and freeze them so they are readily available when my family and I are craving dumplings/pot stickers. These are perfect as an appetizer or a full meal. We usually eat as a main meal because we end up eating so many, we fill up on them."
A delicious appetizer fancy enough for a special occasion and tasty enough to fix because. That’s potstickers! It only takes about an hour to create these potstickers, and mere minutes to wolf them down. They’re truly that fantastic, especially when you use this delectable dipping sauce.