Shiitake & Matsutake Mushroom Pot Stickers
Tucked inside my spice drawer are shiny packages with colorful labels. Treasures beckoning. Picked up from hither and yon, memories of traveling, tasting and adventures. Pick me! Pick Me! What an eclectic assortment; fancy dried Matsutake and Shiitake mushrooms, peppers from Peru amidst the lentils, wild rices, whole cumin, saffron, green cardamom pods and Tasmanian peppercorns, each biding their time until I’m ready to be creative.
Matsutake Mushrooms are usually hard to find and are quite costly per pound for freshly harvested specimens with their firm, chewy flesh and heady aroma. Luckily, a type of these mushrooms grow in the Pacific Northwest (including Canada as well as throughout Asia, Finland, Sweden and other countries) and the variety is commonly known as Pine Mushrooms. They grow in the coniferous forests, forming a symbiotic relationship with the roots of pine trees, nestled and hidden on the forest floor under fallen leaves and needles. Quite the industry of professional foragers and harvesters go hunting from September through December after the first snow, collecting then selling their fresh finds and then quickly drying the balance to ensure availability out of season. A one ounce package, a bit of luxury scored at fancy gourmet shop for less than five bucks during a road trip with my honey. The distinctive spiciness wafts with hints of cinnamon and pine and dare I say it dirty socks when the thin sliced dried morsels rehydrate in warm water. The resulting liquid adds a wonderful complexity to soups and stews and should not to be wasted after removing the spongy fleshy bits.
Craving something light and flavorful for New Year’s Day I opened my draw of wonders. I chose dried Shiitake and Matsutake Mushrooms as my secret ingredients fleshing out my mental surprise basket with wonton wrappers, leftover pulled pork, ruby Swiss chard and a free choice from the pantry. Pot stickers, of course.
I made two versions of the filling, one completely vegetarian and the other combined with cooked pork based on a recipe adapted from a Chinese cookbook off my shelf. Dim Sum by Rhoda Yee published in 1977 by Taylor and Ng has been my Chinese cooking on training wheels resource for ages. You begin with the essentials, get the ratios right for soy sauce, sesame oil and sherry then go to town with ginger, green onions, water chestnuts and mushrooms! These are a far cry from the frozen variety in the big bags in the freezer case and a little more delicate than those at your favorite take-out restaurants. The filling is easily pulled together in a food processor so you just need to be patient about filling the 3″ rounds and pleating the tops of each little dumpling. By purchasing ready made wrappers it all goes so much faster than you think and how much fun it would be to share the assembly with kids or cooking friends. What culture doesn’t love stuffed pasta or pastry?
- 1 pkg. 3” round pre-made wrappers
- 2 cups blanched, chopped Swiss Chard
- 3 tablespoons chopped Green Onions
- 1 oz. dried Matsutake Mushrooms
- 1 oz. dried Shiitake Mushrooms
- ⅓ cup chopped Water Chestnuts
- 1 cup cooked, shredded pork
- 3 tablespoons fresh minced Ginger
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Flat Leaf Parsley
- 1 tablespoon low salt Soy Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Sherry
- 1 tablespoon Sesame Oil
- ¼ cup reserved Mushroom water
- High heat cooking oil
- Water for steaming
- Wash and remove center stems from 1 bundle Swiss chard, rough chop (I used Ruby Swiss Chard). Blanch for 3 minutes in salted boiling water. Remove with slotted spoon and drain in colander. Should yield about 2 cups.
- Add dried mushrooms to hot water and soak for 30 minutes until rehydrated. Remove mushrooms from water and drain on paper towels. Cut out the tough stems on the Shiitakes, then chop all mushroom pieces. Should yield about ¾ cup. Reserve mushroom water.
- Mix soy sauce, sherry and sesame oil in prep bowl. Add two tablespoons of the mushroom water.
- Add chard, mushrooms, parsley, ginger, and water chestnuts to bowl of food processor. Pulse to get a fine diced consistency (do not over process) Slowly add one third of your liquid ingredients, pulse twice.
- For Vegetarians, stop now! This filling is wonderful on its own.
- For Pork Lovers continue by adding one cup of shredded cooked pork to the vegetables in the food processor. Pour in the remain liquid from your prep bowl and process for about 30 seconds until well combined. This will be a creamier mixture for filling the wrappers.
- Place 1 heaping teaspoon in the middle of a round wrap, moisten half the circle edges with water (I use my finger and dip it in a small bowl of water each time.) Fold in half and match edges. Pinch along the top to seal, then make two or three pleats on each side and press gently to flatten the bottom.
- Place finished pot stickers on parchment paper lined baking sheet(s) and when you are all done you can freeze for use later (Rhonda Yee says, “ Do Ahead: Wrap and Freeze them. Cook just before serving. Pot Stickers turn out even better when the freezing process gives the filling additional moisture, making them juicier and tastier! Add 5-7 more minutes to cooking time if frozen.”
- Heat 2 tablespoons medium high heat light flavored cooking oil in a well seasoned heavy bottomed 12” skillet. Pan should be hot before adding pot stickers as you want to form a nice browned bottom. Add a dozen at a time, in two rows of six to the hot oil. Cook until golden on the bottom. Pour water into the pan so that it comes up about ½ way up on the pot stickers. Cover immediately (this will splatter and bubble!) Cook until nearly all the liquid is absorbed then uncover, continue cooking until all the liquid is evaporated and pot stickers and golden.
- Serve immediately and pair with a light dipping sauce and chili oil if you like. Continue working in batches until you have made all you want (or you run out!)
Oregon Mushrooms (dried Matsutake available directly)
Taylor and Ng, San Francisco
About Matsutake Mushrooms