While we have the Chinese to thanks for a vast array of dumplings, it is the potstickers that came as a surprise to them too.
People often use the terms dimsums, momos are dumplings interchangeably. The fact is that while they may be connected to one another in certain ways, there is definitely a distinguishing factor between them too. Potstickers, for instance, are a kind of dumpling from China. These pan-fried cum steamed dumplings come packed with juicy filling and appetizing taste. The highlight of these dumplings is the brownish top portion that is cooked for a longer time than the other side which is softer and white. The word, potstickers is a translation of a Mandarin word, guotie which means a wok stick. Interestingly, that’s how the Chinese dumplings were discovered too.
A dimsum comprises of a wide array of tea-time snacks that includes tarts, wraps, noodle rolls and more and a dumpling is simply a type of dimsum. The former can be made with all kinds of flour, like potato, wheat etc and is filled with finely chopped stuff, the latter is wheat-based and may or may not have fillings in it. Potstickers are the kind of dumplings that come with a meaty or vegetable filling. The dough is what does the trick for these delicious dumplings. The dough for potstickers is prepared in hot water so that it turns out to be more elastic and hold the shape correctly.
Interestingly, these Chinese dumplings were made by an accident. The story goes that the dumplings were usually cooked in a wok and boiled during the Song dynasty 960-1280 A.D. It was then that a chef at the Imperial court forgot about the dumplings after leaving them for boiling in a wok. Since the water evaporated and the dumplings stuck to the bottom of the wok, he was perplexed about what to do next. A new batch of dumplings would take a lot of time to prepare so he decided to serve these burnt dumplings, with the brown side on top.
To his disbelief, the guests at the court relished these dumplings to the core and enjoyed the combination of a rich filling with a crusty top. That’s when the Chinese name, guo (wok) and tie (stick) was associated with this dish and the world got what is known as potstickers today. These days, they are also called wortip which too means potstick as well as Peking Ravioli. The latter name was coined in the 1950s by a restauranteur, Joyce Chen who wanted to keep a name that was relatable to her largely Italian customers.
These days, the potstickers are filled with all kinds of stuffings from meat to chicken and pork and pan-fried on one side. The other side is steamed in a pot of broth or water and the trick is to cook the pan-fried side only to the level that it can be swept up by a spatula. Served with accompaniments rice vinegar, soy sauce, red chilli oil or shredded ginger, potstickers have stuck to Chinese cuisine for long now.