The first theme for our girls' cooking night was sushi. I opted to make guo tie (potstickers) as my contribution to complement the sushi.
I made the filling the night before: 1 lb ground beef and chopped mustard greens, mixed with salt, pepper, soy, sesame oil, and egg white. The tricky part of course is that you have to stuff the dumplings with raw filling, so it's hard to gauge if you've seasoned enough. I know I shouldn't but I usually taste a little of the raw filling...
The night of the party, I mixed the dough -- just 3 cups flour to one cup boiling hot water, mixed and kneaded well. The hot water gets the gluten in the flour going, and also allows the dough to cook quicker for fried dumplings. If you're steaming or boiling your dumplings, you can just use cold water. Then you cover the dough with a warm wet towel and let it sit for 45 minutes or so.
The dough should now be nice and springy and not at all sticky. I usually divide the dough into quarters, keeping whatever I'm not working with under the wet towel to stay moist. I form one quarter into a long snake (about 1 inch thick), then cut the snake into around 10 one-inch pieces.
Form each 1-inch piece into a little ball and start rolling, and rolling, and rolling... I ended up with 40 round wrappers.
Now it's time to wrap -- a spoonful of filing in the middle is enough - don't be too greedy. The dough should be pliable enough you can just push together to seal, but if it's starting to dry out, you can also use a little water.
I seal first on the top, then start at the bottom of the sides and crimp as I go up, to make them pretty.
Pour about 2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick frying pan, and arrange all your dumplings in a pretty pattern.
Then add about 2 cups of water, put the pan on high, cover tightly, and let it go. Keep an ear out for when the pan starts to sizzle. After all the water has boiled off, the oil will crisp the bottoms.
Then the piece de resistance is to turn out all the guo tie onto a plate in one beautiful unbroken array.
While I'd been busy stuffing dumplings, the girls had been busy rolling sushi. They did quite nicely with the help up of some sushi packing and rolling implements.
Rounded out the meal with sorbet, cookies, and mochi for dessert. Mochi is like the T1000 of desserts, you can cut it up all you want, but the pieces will just meld back together. In fact, I think this simple combo of sticky rice flour and sugar is basically what the ancient Chinese used as mortar between the bricks of the Great Wall! All in all a fun and yummy dinner!