There are times at the farmers market when you see a vegetable you just can’t resist, even if you have no idea what you’re going to do with it. That was the case last weekend at the Midtown Farmers Market when I saw beautiful, massive Napa cabbages from Mom’s Garden. I had to have one.

But once I got the cabbage home and saw the large percentage of my crisper drawer it occupied, I realized I had to do something with it, and quick. One solution: potstickers.

Back in the early days of this blog when I was in my twenties, childless and mortgageless, I was all about big “project” recipes like making potstickers or ravioli from scratch. But for the past few years I’ve been a lot more focused on “easy elegance” — things like one-pot chicken soup, pastas with just a few ingredients, variations of rice cooked with various ingredients: jambalaya, paella, arroz con pollo, mujadra.

Something about this giant Napa cabbage just spoke to me, though, because before long I had biked the kids up to United Noodles for potsticker wrappers and more chili crisp.

For my filling, I chopped the cabbage very finely, tossed it with salt and let it sit for 20 minutes before squeezing as much water out as possible. I mixed the juiced cabbage with ground pork, scallions, ginger and a spice mix from Fly by Jing that we had from a Christmas gift.

Shaping potstickers seems like the sort of thing that would be very easy if you grew up doing it or you had weekly or even daily practice. During my two-month stint working in a restaurant kitchen we had a potsticker dish on the menu that I remember making a few times. Shaping potstickers this week it was very clear that I was not practiced — I kept starting my folds too far along the arc, leaving almost no room at the end to make the fourth crease. But while it’s fun to strive for perfectly uniform folds, it doesn’t really matter. They are going to be good anyway. Our son, who is five, was very excited about helping, and I only found myself refolding a few of his.

We made 58 dumplings, which is quite a feast for a family of four. I cooked them at the same time in two pans, and tossed half of them with copious amounts of Lao Ganma “Fried Chili in Oil.” I was kind of late to the chili crisp bandwagon — I remember a while where I was reading about chili crisp but it seemed very trendy so I rejected it. This was a bad instinct! I’ve subsequently embraced different versions of chili crisp, and it’s interesting how they’ve completely supplanted sriracha for me. (Interesting if you remember what it felt like to put sriracha on your food in the late aughts.) The great Huy Fong shortage of the last couple years probably didn’t help — I’ve yet to find another brand of sriracha that comes close.

Is this the start of a renaissance of complicated cooking projects? More potstickers, more dumplings generally, ravioli from scratch? I doubt it! But, you never know what an ingredient will inspire.

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