Leek and Tofu Potstickers

(jump to recipe)

Ever since I took the Wonders of Wonton class at San Francisco’s pop-up school The Civic Kitchen I’ve been on a bit of wonton bender. I had made two big batches of 2 types of wontons few weeks ago and I think I had them in the freezer but they seem to have disappeared, and they took some of the chili oil with them.

I had no option but to make more. Figured I would use leeks from my farm stand haul, with some tofu for bulk. I added some store bought lemongrass paste but it was quite intense, and a bit synthetic in flavor – the wontons tasted alright overall but not how I imagined they would. I guess I’ll need to try to a different brand or try to make my own – stay tuned! I’m not suggesting the paste in the recipe below but feel free to add 1-1 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite brand if you’d like to experiment (just adjust the salt and spice level accordingly)!

The wonton filling is very simple. As a general guideline: dice a bunch of veggies – I used leek for its mild onion-y flavor, tofu for protein and bulk, chestnuts for crunch, and scallions for freshness:

Left to right: scallions, water chestnuts, lemongrass paste, tofu, leeks, ginger, sesame oil, salt, red chili flakes

The idea is to just sauté them in sesame oil with some garlic and/or ginger and red chili flakes! Additionally you might want to add some chili oil, or toasted sesame oil, sesame seeds, or other spices/herbs for flavoring.

From top-left: saute ginger in sesame oil, then add leeks, scallions, chestnuts, lemongrass paste (if using), tofu

Take care not to over-brown or over-salt the filling and make sure it doesn’t become too sticky. A fine dice will ensure that the wontons won’t tear when cooking. If you prefer, you may make the filling with roughly chopped ingredients and pulse the filling a few times in the food processor after (taking care not to purée it).

Good consistency filling – has a bit of a bite when you eat it yet not so chunky that it will tear through the wrapper

I used the same guidelines as last time and made a couple shapes of potstickers. I’m experimenting with few more shapes and will post about them once I think they are up to the mark!

From top-left: start with a thin wonton wrapper; place about a teaspoon of the filling; using your finger tip, wet 3 of the 4 sides of the wonton wrapper; fold wrapper over; push the air out; seal the wonton shut! Place wontons on a greased baking pan.

Once they are ready, they can be frozen spaced apart on a greased or parchment paper lined sheet pan in the freezer, and once completely frozen, transferred to an airtight container. For extra thin or thin wrappers, it’s best to to use plastic or glass containers instead of zip top bags, especially if your freezer is as packed as mine and slightly hostile to delicate wontons.

Wontons for miles

I cooked some right away by frying them in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until the bottoms were golden brown:


And then adding 3-4 tablespoons of water to the hot pan and cooking them the rest of the way through with the lid on (until the water disappears).

Hiss and sputter away, wee wontons!

Made a quick dipping sauce with soy sauce, chili oil, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sesame seeds and cilantro, to serve along side the potstickers!

Is there anything savory in this world that can’t be made better with a cilantro garnish? (Yes those are Kung Fu Panda themed chopsticks)
Cross section of a potsticker – very scientific and delicious.

I had made some in the ‘gift/present’ shape as well (and the appearance was just about passable) and frozen a batch, so I made some of those after a few days (okay fine; it was the very next day when I was having lunch alone) and had them with just a drizzle of chili oil.

Cooked these only on one side to preserve the tops
Chili oil doing its best to make my dull Tuesday better

I also boiled a batch of these wontons and we had them with carrot spirals (noodles), a handful of rice noodles, chopped scallions and tofu bits, in a fragrant and comforting ginger and lemongrass broth (that I made from lemongrass stalks, not jarred), but sadly none survived long enough for a picture! Next time I will be sure to remind myself that the camera eats first!

• Recipe •

Leek, Tofu and Lemongrass Potstickers

Makes about 1 1/2 cups of filling and about 40 potstickers (with roughly 1 teaspoon of filling in each)

For the filling
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
1 1/2 – 2 cups leeks thoroughly washed then thinly sliced into half moons
3/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
3/4 cup finely chopped water chestnuts
3/4 cup (4 oz) firm tofu, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons or to taste, crushed red chili flakes
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon chili oil (optional)

To assemble the potstickers
1/4 cup water
40 wonton wrappers

To cook potstickers
3-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 to 1/2 cup water

To make filling
In a medium shallow frying pan, heat the sesame oil on medium heat for about a minute. Add ginger and fry until it sizzles (avoid browning).

Add chopped leeks and cook, stirring often, for 5-7 minutes until leeks have softened completely. Add scallions and cook for 2-3 minutes. Mix well, then add water chestnuts and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add tofu and cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add salt and red chili flakes to taste and mix well and check for seasoning. To bump up the spice level, add additional red chili flakes and/or chili oil and take pan off the heat.

Cool mixture completely. If the fillings were finely diced, the mixture can be used as is. If too chunky, pulse a few times in the food processor, taking care to avoid pureeing.

To assemble potstickers
Prepare a large baking sheet by lightly oiling it or covering in parchment or wax paper.

Place a teaspoon of the filling in the middle of a wonton wrapper and fold into desired shape:
If its a square wrapper, fold it in half to make a rectangle. Additionally, use the far ends of the triangle/rectangle and pull them to the center and seal them together to make a nurse’s hat.
If it’s a round wrapper, fold it in half to make a semi-circle. Additionally, you may pleat the center of the circular part right-to-left, front-to-back, to make a potsticker.

You can get creative and YouTube to your heart’s content as long as you make sure:
– you don’t overfill the wonton
– you push excess air out of the wonton before sealing
– keep the filling restricted to the center of the wonton
– seal the wonton well

While working with wonton skins, make sure you keep the remaining skins covered and moist to make sure they do not dry.

Seal edges with a few dabs of water (this worked just fine for me, but if you want extra assurance, please add some cornstarch to the water to make a “glue” and use that instead).

Place on the prepared baking sheet.

To store for later
You can freeze the wontons on the baking sheet itself by placing it in the freezer for 1-2 hours. Once (and only after) the wontons are hard, place them gently and carefully in a freezer-safe box (not in a ziploc bag, especially for the thin-skinned wontons), label, and freeze for 3-4 months. They can be cooked directly from the freezer by just adding a minute or 2 to the cooking time.

To cook and serve right away
In a large, shallow (preferably non-stick pan), heat 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil (for 8-10 potstickers). When the oil is hot, place potstickers gently in the pan and cook the bottom for about 2 minutes, until golden brown. Once brown, move them around in the pan once or twice.

Add 3-4 tablespoons of water to the pan (there will be hissing and sputtering) and shake the pan a few times to make sure potstickers are not stuck to the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and let potstickers cook for 1-2 minutes until all the water has disappeared.

Serve hot with a Gyoza dipping sauce or dots of chili oil, or make a quick sauce with soy sauce, dash of rice vinegar, chili oil, sesame oil, sesame seeds and scallions (all quantities to taste).

If cooking potstickers straight from the freezer (this is preferred; do not defrost), add 1-1 1/2 minute of frying time.

Potstickers can also be cooked as wontons and served with a broth or topped with dipping sauce. For boiling: In a medium or large saucepan, bring 4-6 quarts of water to a boil. Add 4-5 wontons at a time and give them a gentle stir once or twice so they don’t stick to the bottom.

With the thin wrappers and 1 teaspoon filling, cook for an average of 2 minutes for each batch of wontons. For thicker wonton wrappers or more heavily filled wontons, it may take a minute longer. In any case, when the wontons float to the top, they’re ready to eat.

Use a strainer or spider to transfer them to warmed bowls with a slick of hot water or broth. Don’t hold these for too long or they start sticking together and congeal because of all that starch. Since they take only a few minutes to cook, its better to cook them when you need them.

2 thoughts on “Leek and Tofu Potstickers

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