Saturday, October 27, 2012


Asian cuisine, of all descriptions, is one of my all-time favorites. So much so that my first foray into Chinese cooking came when I was in high school. I discovered that my mom had a Chinese cookbook that I'd never even seen before.  I just happened upon it on the bookshelf. I began reading it and quickly realized that it was a pretty complicated and authentic cookbook.  But, despite the pretty intense techniques described on those pages, I was enthralled and undaunted. Thinking back, it was my early high school years when cooking really became interesting to me. A complicated recipe didn't intimidate me because I had no experience, therefore, no fear of failure.  Just follow the instructions.  I remember tackling fried rice from this book I found. I think I really surprised my family.  

Next, came my French club's "cafe" at school.  Traditionally, the "cafe" was really just a bake sale.  Well, as French club prez, this simply would not do for me.  I hit the books, experimented at home, and the day of our sale, we trucked in a microwave to the courtyard at Irmo High School and served up a lunch plate of chicken crepes, green beans amandine and a croissant, in addition to the usual French baked goods.  It was a resounding success.  
NOT a photo of my 1985 crepes, but you get the idea

We may have served more than the cafeteria that day.  Well, ok, not really, but I know our diners were much more pleased that those who had the obligatory rectangular pizza, iceberg salad with ranch & fake bacon bits and bowls of french fries.  (I mean, really? Who decided to serve fries in a BOWL?)

So, back to Asia...I credit my friend Susannah for teaching me to make what I simply call dumplings but most of you know as "potstickers."  First, do you know why they are called that?  You must brown the bottoms well before adding water to steam them.  If you don't, they'll stick to that pot like they have super glue on them.  Many a cook has lost a pan to a bad case of true pot-stickers. While she was in law school, Susannah had a bunch of us over for a casual get-together.  I wandered into the kitchen for a beer to find her finishing up her dumplings and heating up a pan.  She had my attention.  And, I've been making my own ever since.

After Viv's school Halloween carnival, we came home to make dumplings.  Btw: she's a "glampire."  Ya know, a glamorous vampire.

 I make them differently depending on what I've got.  Suze always used ground pork, which back in the glorious early 90's wasn't easy to find.  In fact, I'd usually go to the Fresh Market and buy good looking pork then have them grind it up.  Then, I started using ground turkey, which works just as well, but needs a little extra seasoning because, you know, it's turkey.  I've added soy sauce, ginger, water chestnuts, cabbage, green onion, bamboo shoots, garlic...whatever I have available.  Twist up those little babies and they're cooked and ready to eat in minutes.

Tonight, I had the great pleasure to teach Viv how to make them.  Gotta hand it to her...I showed her how to do it twice and then left her to it as I tended to our veggie/chicken rice.  The kid picked right up on it and made the majority of them all by herself.  Then, feeling confident, she invited Neil into the kitchen for her to "teach" him how to make them.  As is so often the case with kids, having made them herself, she loved them and devoured them.  And, just to see the confidence exuding from her as she took charge of the project was delightful.  And, under her tutelage, Neil twisted up some fine dumplings himself!

She got the hang of it pretty quick!
Now she's schoolin' daddy

Add your filling, then fold 'em up!
Ready to go into the pan
Plate 'em up while they're hot!

Wanna make someBuy some wonton wrappers and assemble any combination of ingredients you like.  Adding some soy sauce, ginger, garlic, etc. to the meat mixture is important, I think.  Tonight we used ground pork, fresh ginger, minced water chestnuts & green onion.  Scoop about a 1.5 tsp of filling in the middle of the wrapper.  Dip your finger in water and wet all four edges of the wonton.  Fold two corners up to meet, then bring the other corners in and pinch it all together to make a little "purse" shape.  Heat a pan with a thin layer of oil in it.  When hot (medium-high heat) place the dumplings in the pan.  Cook until the bottoms brown and the dumplings release on their own.  (Shake the pan and see if they will move around on their own.)  When this happens, add a quarter cup of so of water and cover to let them steam.  **Tip** Hold the lid in front of you, angled over the pan as you add water so you don't get spattered**  Steam them until the wonton wrapper becomes translucent.  I always take one out and cut into it to make sure the meat is cooked through. Serve with a simple dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and some fresh ginger & sliced green onion.

These are so simple yet so flippin' good!  And quick, once you get them all assembled.  And, they also freeze well.  Try it out and let me know what you think! 

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...