Photo Credit: Jasmijn Van der Maaten/Pexels
Katie Chin has catered celebrity parties, appeared on The Food Network a number of times, and gone head-to-head with chefs like Bobby Flay. But for this Los Angeles-based chef, cooking has always been a family affair. Chin, a Girl Scout alum, attributes much of her success to her mother, Leann Chin. Leann was a Chinese immigrant who always made sure her family had a delicious meal to enjoy despite her busy schedule as a high-end seamstress.
Chin’s mother felt great pride in sharing authentic Chinese cuisine with her seamstress clients. Her reputation for world-class Chinese cooking led her to a new career in catering. She then opened her first restaurant, financially supported by various socialites, the owner of the Minnesota Twins, and Sean Connery.
Despite growing up surrounded by culinary delights, Chin rarely found herself in the kitchen and instead focused on a career in marketing. “I was so busy trying to make my mother proud by succeeding in my marketing career, I had actually done the opposite by forgetting how to cook,” Chin tells CirlceAround. After an emergency dinner party where Chin’s mother ended up flying to Los Angeles with only half a meal prepared, Chin had to pick up the slack and learn how to cook again from her mother. When Chin realized her friends loved the food, she asked her mother to teach her how to re-create the classic Chinese dishes she knew and loved from home.
“Feeling inspired and back in touch with my culinary roots, I quit my job, and my mother and I co-authored a Chinese cookbook together,” she explains. Everyday Chinese Cooking became a hit and led to bigger opportunities.
While Chin and her mother were filmed traveling through China for a Food Network series, the pair were inspired to add another new venture to their mother-daughter franchise: a regular TV series called Double Happiness, inspired by the name of their joint Pan-Asian catering business.
“My mother was the toughest boss,” Chin adds. “She set the same standards for me as she did for herself and I never felt like I was living up to her expectations. … One time on our cooking show, I said, ‘If you don’t have Asian hot sauce, you could use Mexican hot sauce instead. Right, Mom?’ Her deadpan response on camera was, ‘No.’ I recognize now that she just wanted me to be the best I could be.”
Over the years, Chin and her mother would cater star-studded events, but eventually, Chin’s direction shifted to focus more on cookbook development as her own family grew. When Leann passed away, the loss of her influence was deeply felt, but Chin also knew her mother left behind a legacy that was both admirable and instructive for new generations of Chinese cooks.
“I’m so honored to carry her torch by making Asian cuisine accessible and relatable for real people, on real schedules and real budgets through my blog and cookbooks,” Chin tells CircleAround. “I try to provide shortcuts and substitutions to make you feel as empowered as possible to cook Asian food, along with practical ways to purchase the ingredients you’ll need.”
Today, Chin enjoys leading virtual cooking lessons, something she’s been doing more through the pandemic, which limited in-person teaching opportunities. She continues to carry the tradition of mother-daughter cooking as well, with a social media livestream cooking series called Cooped Up Cooking With Katie & Becca, where she and her daughter share their talents with followers from around the world.
Chin provided CircleAround with a recipe for potstickers from her new book, Katie Chin's Global Family Cookbook, which she says are customarily served during Lunar New Year to symbolize wealth and prosperity. “Serve these all year round and you’re sure to feel prosperous,” she adds. “Or at least your belly will!”
Potstickers by Chef Katie Chin
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
- 4 oz. (100 g) napa cabbage, cut into thin strips
- 1 ½ tsp. salt, divided
- 8 oz. (250 g) ground pork or chicken
- 2 tbsp. finely chopped green onion (scallions), white and green parts
- 2 tsp. dry white wine
- ½ tsp. cornstarch
- Dash of white pepper
- 20–30 store-bought potsticker wrappers
- 2–4 tablespoons oil, divided
- Dipping Sauce
- 4 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. dark sesame oil
- ½ tsp. sugar
- Toss the cabbage with 1 teaspoon of the salt and set aside for five minutes. Roll the cabbage up in a clean, dry dish towel. Twist the dish towel to squeeze out the excess moisture.
- In a large bowl, mix the cabbage, pork or chicken, green onion, wine, cornstarch, the remaining ½ teaspoon of salt, and pepper.
- Place 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture in the center of the wrapper. Moisten the top edge of the wrapper with a bit of water. Lift up the edges of the circle and pinch several pleats to create a pouch to encase the mixture. Pinch the top together. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or skillet over medium high heat. Place 12 dumplings in a single layer in the wok or skillet and fry them for 2 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown. Add ½ cup (125 ml) of water and cover and cook for 6–7 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Repeat with the remaining dumplings.
- Make the dipping sauce: Combine soy sauce, sesame oil and sugar. Serve with dumplings.
If you can’t find round dumpling wrappers, you can substitute square wonton wrappers. Just use a cookie cutter to create the round shape.