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  • Melissa Orquiza

Shanghai Potsticker Dumplings 鍋貼, Mozart & Teen Hilarity

Updated: Feb 2, 2022

Shanghai Potsticker Dumplings 鍋貼. Yes, you can totally do this and just as good or better than the ones from Trader Joe's.

Shanghai Potsticker Slideshow. Yum!

Happy Lunar New Year! I'll keep it short and sweet. Growing up, I lived a pretty sheltered life, especially during the teen years. While attending an all girl Catholic school (great education, btw!) but restricted from socializing (strict parents), the few times that didn't involved studying usually meant a piano competition.

For the uninitiated, here's the process. You're usually waiting outside, sitting amongst a row of chairs, sitting and listening to your competitors. You hear everything... including the snarky comments from panelists. When it's your turn, someone asks for you, you enter a room with a grand piano, with either one to four panelists judging your performance. (It's like a serious version of "The Voice," or an actor's audition). As eliminations wore on, you repeat the process over and over again until the chairs and competitors are fewer and far between, until the jury announces a winner. It usually takes all day.

While competing at one piano competition, playing Chopin's Etude Op 10. No. 3 (for you music geeks wondering what I was performing), I befriended a Chinese- American girl next to me while waiting for evaluations...round after round, we both ended qualifying. We both found out we were attending all girl schools, she was playing Chopin (not the same Etude) and the stricter judges found it amusing that after each successive round, while waiting to play, (AGAIN!), we kept sitting next to each other, giggling, while our competitors were so stone-faced.

Dressed in our concert finery, little did they know what we were discussing. She talked about how to roll a joint, which alcohol they were drinking and smuggling in boarding school, which drugs were "in", college admissions and evals to the Ivy Leagues, (her school was a feeder school to the Ivy Leagues) and how to spot real vs fake Doc Martens.

I write about this because it's pretty easy to make assumptions about achievement and success, not truly knowing the whole story about a person or their circumstances. On the outside, we both looked a certain way: achievement oriented teens from more privileged upbringings, competing at a piano competition, to hopefully be awarded with a nice title to add to our college admissions packet. Deep down, I suspect the reason why we were giggling was to let off steam, from the relentless familial expectations and drive that usually came with those lofty markers of achievement.

I wonder what happened to my piano friend? Maybe she's a doctor or in finance... or just maybe... she ran off and joined the circus and became an artist, actress or a musician! Here's to laughing and hopefully, running off to find your own circus (regardless of what you do for a living). when life gets a bit silly. Happy Lunar New Year!

When I was in middle school, my family would go to a Chinese restaurant with a carp river inside!! (I know!) While running around, crossing faux Oriental bridges, staring at the brightly colored fish swimming in a circle around the restaurant, nearby, they would serve these potstickers. My cousins and my family would go wild. At about that time, this Mozart Fantasia was a constant in my life (along with the Chili Peppers). Doc Martens. Enjoy!

Z. Kocsis -- Mozart Fantasia in c minor, K. 475

Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week! Happy Lunar New Year. Remember, the dumplings are super easy to make while you're distracted, watching reality TV or watching your husband and daughter play video games. Enjoy!

Shanghai Potsticker Dumplings. A trip down memory lane. Make these while watching TV and feel the world slow down!

Shanghai Potsticker Dumplings

Wor Tip


By Eileen Yin - Fei Lo, from “Chinese Kitchen: Recipes, Techniques, Ingredients, History, and Memories from America’s Leading Authority on Chinese Cooking


1 quart water

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 pound bok choy, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, stalks and leaves separated

10 ounces lean ground pork ( I used 14 ounces since that was what was in the package)

1 scallion, trimmed and finely sliced (1/3 cup)

2 teaspoons sugar

1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger

1 1/2 tsp Shao-Hsing wine or dry sherry

1 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

1 medium egg, beaten

1 Tbsp oyster sauce

2 Tbsp cornstarch

Pinch of freshly ground pepper

For the Shanghai Dumpling dough (or use 36 dumpling skins)

2 cups All Purpose Flour

7/8 cup cold water

5 Tbsp peanut oil

1 cup cold water


1. To blanch the bok choy, place the water, salt, and the baking soda in a pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the bok choy stalks, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add the leaves, stir, and cook for another minute. Turn off the heat, run cold water into the pot, and drain. Squeeze the bok choy in paper towels to dry thoroughly.

2. To make the filling, combine the bok choy, pork, and all other ingredients except the dough ingredients, peanut oil, and cold water. Mix thoroughly. Place in a shallow dish and refrigerate, uncovered, for 4 hours or, covered, overnight.

3. To make the dough, place the flour in a mixing bowl, make a well in the center, and gradually add the water. Stir with your fingers to make a firm dough. If the dough is too dry, add more water. Knead until smooth and set aside to rest, covered with a damp cloth, for 30 minutes.

4. To make the dumplings, dust the work surface with flour. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Roll each into a cylinder shape 12 inches long. Cut each into 12 equal pieces. Work with 1 piece at a time, keeping the others covered with a damp cloth. With a rolling pin, roll each piece into a 3 inch round. Spread about 1 1/2 tsp of filling in the center of the round and wet the edges. Fold into a half moon shape, pleating as you seal it. Press one side of the dumpling against the fleshy part of your hand to flatten it slightly and create the classic shape. Repeat until all the dumplings are made. (I used prepackaged dumpling skins to save time. We watched “Bao” while wrapping dumplings and now my daughter wants to roll the skins from scratch the next time we prepare them.)

5. To pan-fry the dumplings, heat 3 tablespoons of the peanut oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until a wisp of white smoke appears. Place the dumplings in the skillet in 3 rows of 6 dumplings each, touching lightly. Cook for 3 minutes, then pour 1/2 cup cold water into the skillet and cover. Cook until the water evaporates. Lower the heat and continue to fry until the dumplings are browned on the bottoms and somewhat translucent on top. (Move the skillet back and forth so that the dumplings will not stick and will brown evenly.) Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the second batch. (I try to wipe off the gunk from the previous batches. Be patient with the crispness!) Turn off the heat, transfer to a heated dish, and serve with Vinegar-Soy Sauce.

Vinegar Soy Sauce


1 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp Chinese white rice vinegar or distilled vinegar

1 Tbsp Hot Pepper Oil or or bottled Chili oil

1 Tbsp trimmed and finely sliced scallion

1/4 cup chicken stock


Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well, allow to rest for 30 minutes, then place in small individual soy sauce dishes and serve with potstickers.

Note: I froze two bags of these potstickers (I doubled the recipe). Just make sure to dust them liberally with cornstarch and flash freeze them individually on a cookie sheet before storing them in a freezer bag. Enjoy!

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