Pan-frying pot stickers in oil is the preferred method of giving this version of Chinese dumplings a crispy, browned bottom before steaming them. Despite common misconceptions about its suitability for frying, olive oil works fine for this technique. Being monounsaturated, olive oil contributes healthy antioxidants as well as excellent flavor to the dish. The trick is to know how to fry the pot stickers at the correct temperature.
Pan-Frying Crisps Pot Stickers
Pot stickers are a type of Chinese dumpling made with wonton noodle wrappers and various kinds of fillings. For example, one version uses finely chopped white meat chicken seasoned with ginger, garlic, soy sauce and a dribble of maple syrup. The mixture is spooned into wonton wrappers that are moistened on 2 edges and crimped to stick them together. Then the pot stickers are pan-fried in 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes before being covered and steamed in the same skillet to finish cooking. The entire cooking process takes around 10 minutes.
Olive Oil Safe for Frying
Olive oil's use in frying has suffered from kitchen myths about its likelihood of overheating and smoking at frying temperatures. After professional tests, olive oil has been found to be safe and acceptable for pan-frying as long as the cook maintains a careful watch on the temperature. Olive oil's "smoke point" ranges between 380 and 410 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the amount of impurities in the oil. Extra-virgin olive oil, which comes from the first pressing of the fruit, has fewer impurities and thus has a higher smoke point. This makes it especially good for the type of quick pan-frying used to crisp pot stickers.
More Olive Oil Myths
Olive oil endures another bad rap: that the temperature of frying will change it from "good" (unsaturated) to "bad" (saturated) oil. This is also false, because frying temperatures aren't high enough to change olive oil's chemical composition; that only occurs after it passes the smoke point. There's also a misperception that fried foods absorb too much oil to be healthy. This view is partially true, but only foods that aren't properly fried tend to be oily or greasy. Foods such as pot stickers that are fried at the proper temperature are sealed by the frying process and don't absorb excess oil.
Economical in Small Amounts
The one drawback to frying with olive oil is that the oil itself can be expensive. Fortunately pan-fried pot stickers use such a small amount of oil that it's healthy, tasty and economical to use extra-virgin olive oil. Because it's from the first pressing of the fruit, extra-virgin olive oil will give the most flavor to pot stickers.
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