Pot Stickers

Makes At least 24 dumplings (4 to 8 servings)
Time: 30 to 45 minutes

Make these with round wonton or gyoza wrappers, 3 or 4 inches in diameter. Panfried until crisp on the bottom and then cooked through by steaming, they are just as easily simply steamed. Either way they are wonderful, and either way they should be served immediately. You can fill and dust them with flour and then refrigerate them, covered, for a couple of hours or freeze them for a few days before cooking (you can cook them frozen or thawed), but they're really best when cooked right after filling. Gyoza is the Japanese version of this type of dumpling; mandoo is the Korean version. They may be filled with pork, shrimp or other shellfish, vegetables, or-in the Korean model-a mixture of kimchi and other food.

1/2 pound ground pork, chicken, or other meat
1/4 cup minced scallion
1 cup washed and chopped leek, Napa cabbage, or bok choy
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon rice wine or dry sherry
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Large pinch salt
24 round dumpling skins
Peanut oil or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn, as needed

1. Combine the first eleven ingredients and mix gently but thoroughly. Put about 2 teaspoons of the filling in the center of a wrapper, then moisten the edge of the wrapper with water and fold over to form a semicircle. Press the seam tightly to seal; it's best if there is no air trapped between the filling and wrapper. Set on a lightly floured plate or wax paper. (At this point, you may cover tightly and refrigerate for up to a day or freeze for a couple of weeks.)

2. Coat a large, deep skillet with a thin layer of oil and turn the heat to medium-high. Put the dumplings, one at a time, into the skillet, seam side up, leaving space between them (you will probably have to cook in 2 batches). Turn the heat down to medium, then cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Add 1/2 cup water to the skillet, then cover and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the lid, turn the heat to high, and cook until the water has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Remove the dumplings and serve with dipping sauce.

Steamed Dumplings.

Set up a steamer in a covered pot. Lightly oil the steamer or plate to prevent sticking. Steam the dumplings in one or two batches for about 10 minutes per batch. Serve immediately with dipping sauce.

Vegetarian Pot Stickers or Gyoza.

Substitute 1/2 pound drained and mashed soft tofu for the meat. Cut the amount of leeks in half and add 1/4 cup shredded Napa cabbage, 1/4 cup chopped fresh mushrooms, 1/4 cup shredded carrot, and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts to the filling. Use the thinner gyoza wrappers if you can find them. Fill and cook as directed. (Note that if you use gyoza, the cooking time at each stage will be a little bit shorter.)