Wild Watercress Potstickers

I love potstickers so much that—until the other day—I had never cooked them at home. Make sense? They occupied a place in my mind that was beyond the kitchen, or at least my kitchen. They were enshrined, enshrouded, holy.

But the other day I came home with a big bag of wild fall watercress and decided it was time to expand the repertoire.

Watercress is one of those weeds that mocks us for our stupidity. It’s incredibly tasty, loaded with nutrients, and available much of the year in many parts of the country. It dares us to act sensible and…eat it. Here in the Pacific Northwest there are viable patches of watercress nearly every month of the year. Some of those patches will grow, flower, die back, and then grow again, all within the same calendar year.

The key is to find watercress upstream of livestock and development. It’s a common weed of roadside ditches, but make sure those ditches aren’t beside busy highways or visited by the pesticide sprayer.

While hunting mushrooms the other day I stopped at a watercress patch. The patch was so robust that, at 50 miles per hour, you wouldn’t believe it was watercress at all. It looked more like planted shrubbery. Filling a grocery bag took about 30 seconds. I nibbled some on the way home. The peppery flavor was intense. If you like arugula, you’ll love watercress.

I guess I was craving potstickers, and the watercress seemed like a good flavor to match with either ground pork or tofu. In the end I made two separate fillings to keep everyone at home happy, a meat filling and a veggie filling. The wrappers were easier to make than I had expected, though I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered the technique.

Meat Filling:

1 lb ground pork
2 loose cups watercress, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
white pepper

Mix ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Makes enough for 24 potstickers.

Vegetarian Filling:

1 14-oz package firm tofu, finely chopped
2 loose cups watercress, finely chopped
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 tsp salt
white pepper

Mix ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. Makes enough for 24 potstickers.

Wrappers:

1 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup boiling water

Mix flour and salt into large bowl. Measure out a 1/2 cup of boiling water and add to bowl of dry ingredients. Stir with wooden spoon until cool enough to work with hands. Knead 5 minutes over  a lightly floured work surface until smooth. Divide into two equal balls. Roll each ball into a 12-inch snake. Slice each snake into 1/2-inch sections, about a dozen per snake. With a rolling pin, roll out each section into a round wrapper, about 3 inches in diameter. Makes about 24 wrappers.

To fill and cook potstickers:

1. Use a teaspoon to scoop a heaping amount of filling onto the middle of a wrapper. Fold over and pinch edges. Put aside. Repeat.

2. Add a 1/2 tablespoon of peanut oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Arrange a dozen potstickers in a single layer. Fry a couple minutes uncovered until golden brown on bottom. Drizzle a 1/2 cup of water into the pan and cover. Cook several more minutes, until water is absorbed and cooked off. At this point I like to flip the potstickers to lightly brown the other side before serving.

Makes about 24 potstickers. Serve with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, black vinegar, sesame oil, and hot oil. You can also add chopped scallion and ginger to the sauce.

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