I recently returned from a trip to China with Show Hope, an agency that gives adoption grants to eligible families waiting to adopt (see more in this previous post). Show Hope also funds several special care centers in China. While there, I stayed in Luoyang, at Maria’s Big House of Hope.
This is a 6-story unit for orphans with special needs or long-term medical conditions. Maria’s works hand-in-hand with the state-run Chinese orphanage nearby, in order to provide these children with the needed medical care (and sadly, in many cases, hospice care), as well as much better nurturing conditions. There is a doctor and team of nurses on site, and the children are daily cared for by nannies (or “ayis”) on a 3 to 1 ratio. Each of the rooms are colorfully painted, and the children get to know the same small group of ayis during their entire stay at Maria’s.
This trip was more emotionally challenging than I had originally anticipated, mainly because of my initial fear of building relationships with these kids, knowing that I would be leaving at the end of the week. I was afraid that this would only hurt them more. But I quickly learned that it is worth the risk, just to see them smile and laugh, and to know that I was able to provide a little extra loving to them in that moment. It also challenged the way that I look at kids—both with special needs, and in general. Even though they may be young, God has created children with such great personalities and gifts. God challenged me to see these gifts, and to not discount the impact of a child because he or she is “too young.”
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While in China, I was able to try many typical Chinese meals, both at Maria’s and downtown in a couple of the restaurants. Many Chinese dishes are fairly simple–eggs, rice, vegetables, tomatoes (I did discover that I really like eating with chopsticks!) One of the special treats that we ate on our last day were potstickers, or in Mandarin guotie (“GOOT-ee-ay”…more or less). I had made these from an international dumpling cookbook in high school, but had not had them since. I love guotie 🙂 So I came home determined to find out how to create gluten free potstickers.
I ended up using ground turkey meat instead of pork for this time around…Next time, I think I’ll just stick with the pork; the turkey just doesn’t quite give it the same authentic flavor…But it’s nothing that a little soy sauce can’t fix!
Keep in mind that many people in China cook without recipes, so feel free to play with different versions of this recipe, once you’re familiar with the basic techniques.Adapting this recipe, this is what I did for the dough:
10 oz gluten free flour blend (roughly 2 c.)
7-8 oz (3/4c – 1c) just-boiled water
12g (1T) psyllium husk powder OR 2 t. xanthan gum
(I did not use xanthan gum, but most of the recipes I looked at did)
Now to my first lesson about making potstickers:
#1- I don’t know if it really matters if the water is just boiled; I saw some recipes calling for cold water. What I do know, however, is that you have to have enough water to make the dough stick into a decent ball. I initially used 3/4c (7oz), but the dough was still very dry. As I formed the balls, I would put water on my fingers to mix with the dough and make it work. About halfway through, I got wise and added about an ounce (a couple Tablespoons probably) to the rest of the dough and kneaded it thoroughly. After that, rolling out the dough was much easier.
Other good things to know, and then I’ll get to the recipe (these are important!).
#2 – I used this YouTube video to learn how to fold the dumplings. Although I’ve heard that everyone folds them differently, so I don’t think you can go wrong. Keep water on your fingertips during this part. These were my first attempts, when the dough was too dry:
#3 – It’s easier to fold when your dough is somewhat circular. It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle. I tried a few with a round biscuit cutter, but that’s just an extra step you don’t need. However, try to not have too crazy of an edge.
#4 – If your dough cracks, or you need to even up the edges, just put water on your fingers, and work the dough until it’s smooth. It’s just like pie crust.
#5 – Speaking of pie crust, that is exactly how you roll the dough: in “clock” motion (see this post). Use your hands to press the small ball of dough into a flat disk, and then use a rolling pin to (incrementally) flatten the dough as thin as you can get it. If you have enough water in the dough (but not too much), this should not be a problem.
#6 – My rounds were fairly large, about 4″ diameter, so the guotie ended up being pretty large. However, in China, I did have potstickers this big, and they still taste good 🙂 I was proud of this one:
Now, on to the recipe!
Blend the flour and psyllium husk powder (see above). Add water, and knead together until the dough is able to be rolled into a ball. Start with less water, but slowly add more as needed. Cover the dough, and set aside for at least 30 minutes.
For the filling: (adapted from Fried Pork Dumplings in this cookbook)
3/4 lb ground pork (or other meat of choice)
1/3 c. green onions, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T. gluten free soy sauce
1 t. fresh grated ginger root (I keep some in my freezer)
2 t. cornstarch
1/4 c. grapeseed or vegetable oil, for frying
1 c. boiling water
Combine all ingredients, except for the oil and boiling water for cooking. Put in the refrigerator while you are preparing the dough.
Pull off a piece of dough about the size of a ping pong ball. Use your hand to flatten it into a disk onto a surface that is lightly floured with cornstarch or more of the flour blend. Use a rolling pin to flatten the circle to about 1/16 of an inch (use this technique to try to keep it as round as possible), about 3 1/2 – 4″ in diameter.
Place about 1/2 Tablespoon of filling into the center of each circle. Wet the edges of the dough with your fingers, and fold and pinch the dough to seal it (see this tutorial). Don’t put too much filling, because the meat will come out.
Heat 1/2 of the oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Place half of the dumplings in the skilled, pinched side up, and fry until the bottoms are just brown. Add 1/2 c. of the water to the skillet (be careful with this part, because things will start sputtering and steaming). Cover, and let it steam for about 10 minutes. Then remove the lid, and cook another minute or so, until all the liquid is evaporated.
These dumplings can be reheated by pan-frying them again in a little bit of oil. So good! 🙂
So if you’ve made it this far, I hope you enjoy!!
This recipe makes about 20 guotie.