Join Chicago chefs Abraham Conlon and Adrienne Lo on a journey to discover the vibrant culinary culture of Macau. Their Chicago-based Macanese restaurant, Fat Rice, draws a crowd that craves this particular style of Portuguese-influenced Asian cuisine, and with their new cookbook, you can try it at home. Crunch into potstickers royale embedded in a crispy crepe and be ruined for all other dumplings.
Adrienne has a strong childhood memory of hand-forming dumplings of various shapes and sizes with her family. Their potstickers contained an ingredient that isn’t often found in dumplings much outside of northern China: dill, added by Adrienne’s grandparents’ caretaker, Li Na. Despite initial skepticism, Adrienne’s grandparents came to appreciate the strange addition, and a taste for dill trickled down to the recipe we use at Fat Rice. Li Na also introduced the light, eggless crepe that adorns our potstickers, one reason people love the potstickers at Fat Rice; the extra crispy bits can be the best part.
The crepe batter is a pretty precise recipe, and therefore will yield better results if measured by weight rather than volume. And know now what many a cook at Fat Rice has learned the hard way: The crepe is super difficult to master! There is a certain relationship between you, the pan, the potstickers, the crepe batter, and the universe that has to be in line, and there’s no way to learn that other than by just giving it a go (after you’ve read the instructions, of course — always be careful when flipping a hot, heavy pan containing oil). This recipe makes a lot, so you’ve got some room for failure. And remember, you aren’t selling these in a crowded restaurant (you aren’t, right?), so even the ones that don’t pop out under a perfect crepe will still taste delicious.
- About 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- About 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- About 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
- 4 green onions, white and green parts, fisheye-cut
- 2 stalks celery, minced
- 3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
- 8 ounces shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped into 1/4-inch chunks
- 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
- 2 teaspoons tapioca starch
- 8 ounces ground pork
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 36 dumpling wrappers
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- Salt and ground Sichuan peppercorns
- 1/4 cup Chinese black vinegar
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup soy sauce
- 1 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chilies, pickled chilies or sambal oelek
For the sauce
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Store, refrigerated, for up to 1 month if not using immediately
For the dumplings
Place a large metal mixing bowl in the freezer for 20 minutes.
To make the crepes, combine the cornstarch and flour in a medium bowl. While whisking, add the water and incorporate thoroughly. Place 3 ⁄4 cup of the crepe batter in a squeeze bottle and set aside. (Always make sure the batter is well whisked right before measuring to ensure proper distribution of the ingredients.)
To make the dumplings, combine the green onions, celery, dill, ginger, and 2 teaspoons of the sesame oil in a separate bowl and toss thoroughly. Set aside in the refrigerator.
In another bowl, thoroughly mix together the shrimp, wine, and tapioca starch; set aside in the refrigerator.
Put the pork in the chilled bowl from the freezer. Put a glove on your hand and set all five fingers on the counter like Thing from the Addams Family. This is the position you need to hold your hand in while you’re mixing the meat. Once you’ve mastered the Thing technique, use it to mix the pork in a clockwise motion, aggressively stirring about 15 times around the bowl. Add the salt, Sichuan peppercorns, and five-spice powder and mix with Thing technique 15 more times. Scrape the side of the bowl with the blade of your hand, Julia Child style. Add the egg, soy sauce, and remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil and mix 15 more times, until incorporated. Add the chilled shrimp mixture to the pork mixture and mix 15 more times, scraping as needed. Add the chilled vegetables and mix another 15 times. Set aside and fill the potstickers.
Using a 1 ⁄2-ounce portion scoop, place filling onto the center of the wrapper (the starchy side should face up). Wet your middle finger and moisten the rim of the wrapper.
Using your dry thumb and forefinger, draw the edges of the wrapper together and pinch the center, leaving the ends open.
Using a pinch-and-fold motion, pleat the side of the wrapper facing away from you with three folds.
Turn the dumpling around and finish the pleat in the same manner. You should have a completely sealed, crescent-shaped dumpling.
Do that again 35 more times. Good luck!
When all of the potstickers are formed, set yourself up with a well-seasoned, snugly lidded 10-inch cast-iron skillet and a plate that will fit comfortably inside the rim of said pan. Rub the peanut oil all over the pan to evenly coat it. Place seven potstickers in the pan in an evenly spaced pinwheel pattern and place over medium-high heat until they start to sizzle and become light brown on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, give the crepe batter a good shake to get it mixed up again. With the pan’s lid in one hand and the crepe batter in the other, quickly and deliberately pour the batter over the potstickers in two circular motions and immediately cover the pan with the lid to capture the steam. Continue to cook, covered, until the potstickers start to swell and the top of the dough starts to become translucent, checking only after 4 minutes (be careful of escaping steam!). Remove the lid to allow the steam to evaporate and the bottom of the potstickers to crisp. At this point, rotate the pan as necessary to maximize evaporation and even browning, and lower the heat as needed. This process takes about 4 more minutes—things can burn easily, so pay attention! Gently lift each potsticker by its corner to be sure nothing is sticking. Give the pan a shake; everything will slide around freely when done.
At this point, turn the heat off. You have a couple of methods to get the potstickers out of the pan. You can take them out as cleanly as possible with a spatula and then invert them onto the plate or you can take the committed route we use in the restaurant and go for broke. Fat Rice and all interested parties are not responsible for the scalding oil burns that can result if you do this improperly! Place a plate that is larger than the pan upside down on top of the pan. With feet shoulder-width apart under springy knees, form the Thing with your nondominant hand, placing your fingertips in the center of the plate. Lift the pan from the stove with your dominant hand. Remembering that you are dealing with extremely hot food and even hotter oil, build a bit of momentum using a three-count bounce, then invert the pan so the plate is on the bottom, using an arclike motion. Make sure that the arm holding the plate is straight up and down to avoid any dripping oil. That’s really important! Carefully remove the pan and ensure that all potstickers and crepe have come out uniformly. When you have produced flawless potstickers, season with salt and ground Sichuan peppercorns and serve immediately with the sauce. Of course, the ones that didn’t come out so beautifully will still taste delicious—nibble on them while you perfect your technique.