By Laura Mack
March 10, 2016
This low carb potsticker stir-fry is so loaded with flavor and texture, it’s hard to believe that it’s healthy too. Back in my Standard American Diet (SAD) days, one of my favorite Asian treats was steamed and/or fried dumplings, also known as ‘potstickers’ and ‘gyoza’. I particularly enjoyed the pork and cabbage variety with a soy-ginger dipping sauce. This tasty stir-fry is a low carb, a grain-free recipe inspired by those flavors.
I grew up occasionally dining at ‘Chinese-American’ restaurants in the ’70s and '80s and I enjoyed what were then very exotic flavors for me. My husband, Dale, and I even held our wedding rehearsal dinner at a Chinese restaurant.
Three years later, just as the ’80s were coming to a close, we moved to Singapore for Dale’s career. We lived there for nearly a year and a half. It was a wonderful experience in so many ways and, OMG, the food was beyond amazing! I have since developed a deep and abiding admiration for good Asian food.
Singapore is a small-but-mighty melting pot with three primary ethnic groups: Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian. One thing they all have in common is their love of food. As a former British Colony, there is a definite European influence. Indonesia is close by, not to mention the rest of Southeast Asia, including Thailand and Vietnam, which all have a culinary impact. As a center of global business, Singapore sees a significant Japanese influence as well.
Living in Singapore, as well as traveling to a number of other Asian countries, introduced me to a whole new world of flavors, spices, and ingredients. This was before my culinary school days, but I was able take ‘home-style’ Chinese cooking lessons during my stay.
Now that I am gluten-free, sugar-free, as well as essentially grain- and legume-free, I’ve found it quite challenging to eat out at Asian restaurants. It’s difficult to find much, if anything, that doesn’t have at least one ingredient that I prefer to avoid, not to mention a big dose of industrial seed oils.
Over the years, I’ve learned to cook a lot of tasty Asian food, and so it wasn’t that difficult to adjust many of my recipes to fit into my low carb/primal lifestyle. It did, however, involve a lot of label-reading and exploring of substitutes.
One of the best things about a stir-fry is that it is so customizable. If you don’t like ground pork, substitute ground beef, lamb, or poultry. If you don’t like mushrooms or some of the other vegetables, substitute a similar quantity of something else, especially what you might already have on hand that needs to be used up!
The key take-aways from this potsticker stir-fry recipe (and any other stir-fry) are the proportions as well as the seasonings and other flavorings. I look for gluten-free and preferably sugar-free formulations (or as little sugar as possible). I prefer to keep my soy exposure limited to primarily fermented sources, but if you are entirely avoiding soy, there are a number of substitutes, such as coconut aminos or liquid aminos to use in place of tamari (wheat-free soy sauce).
This potsticker stir-fry is chock full of vegetables while still being very low carb/keto-friendly, with 10 net carbs per serving. If you can tolerate more carbs, you could serve it with cauliflower rice. And if you live in a “mixed company” household with grain-eaters (as I do), you could serve it with rice or noodles. Dale is getting used to cauliflower rice, but he still prefers the real thing!
This dish reheats beautifully for leftovers. I usually reheat it in the microwave at half-power, but you could easily do it in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
What are some of your favorite Asian or stir-fry dishes? Have you thought about how you could adapt them to fit a low carb/primal template?
Ground Port and Cabbage 'Potsticker' Stir-Fry
Author: Laura Mack
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Inspired by the flavors of a classic potsticker/gyoza filling and soy-ginger dipping sauce.
1 tablespoon plus ¼ cup water, divided
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 pound ground pork
4 scallions/green onions, white parts minced; green parts sliced on bias and reserved for garnish
4 tablespoons tamari or coconut aminos, divided
3 tablespoons dry sherry, divided
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, divided
2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
1 tablespoon rice vinegar (unseasoned/no sugar)
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons xylitol or equivalent sweetener (optional)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
½ teaspoon sriracha
½ teaspoon xanthan gum* (optional)
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin* (optional)
½ tablespoon avocado oil
8 ounces mushrooms, cleaned and diced into 1" pieces
4 ounces red bell pepper, seed and diced into ½" pieces (about ½ medium pepper)
12 ounces shredded cabbage, green or napa (from a 1 lb head)
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seed for garnish (optional)
- Combine 1 tablespoon water and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add pork and toss to coat. Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes. This simple step ensures that the ground meat stays tender after cooking (a great tip I learned from www.cooksillustrated.com), but you can leave it out if you prefer.
- Whisk together 1 tablespoon tamari, 1 tablespoon dry sherry, ½ tablespoon ginger, 1 teaspoon garlic, and together in a small bowl. Add mixture to pork, along with the minced white part of the scallions, and stir to incorporate. Let sit at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Prepare sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ¼ cup water, remaining 3 tablespoons soy sauce, remaining 2 tablespoons dry sherry, rice vinegar, fish sauce, xylitol (or other sweetener) if using, sesame oil, sriracha, and remaining ½ tablespoon of ginger and 1 teaspoon garlic. Sprinkle in xanthan gum (if using) and whisk vigorously to combine. Add gelatin and set aside. *The xanthan gum and gelatin help thicken the sauce and give it a silky mouthfeel, but you can leave them out if you prefer.
- Heat ½ tbsp avocado oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add pork mixture to skillet, breaking up with a wooden spoon, and cook without stirring for 1 minute.
- Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until almost no pink remains, 4-5 minutes longer. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl and cover to keep warm. Remove remaining fat from skillet and reserve.
- In the now-empty skillet, add back 1 tablespoon reserved pork fat over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add mushrooms and red bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushroom juices have evaporated and vegetables are lightly browned about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl with pork and keep covered.
- In the again-empty skillet, add 1 tablespoon of reserved pork fat over high heat until just smoking. Add shredded cabbage, and cook, turning occasionally with tongs, until spotty brown and crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to bowl with pork and keep covered.
- Return empty skillet to stove over medium heat. Whisk reserved sauce and add to the pan. Simmer for 1-2 minutes, until sauce is slightly thickened and reduced. Add reserved pork/vegetable mixture. Cook, turning with tongs to incorporate until heated through, about 3-4 minutes. Garnish with reserved scallion tops and sesame seeds.
Nutritional info* per serving: 408 cal, 27 g total fat (59%), 14 g total carbs, 4 g fiber, 10 g net carbs, and 26 g protein. Please note that I do not count the sugar alcohols from xylitol in the total or net carbs.
*I use Living Cookbook 2015, along with package information and data from www.nutritiondata.self.com, to calculate the nutritional information for my recipes. Thus, I can make no guarantees as to the accuracy.