Pork Potstickers

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Well I have been on a bit of an Asian kick for these past few posts with Baked Crab Rangoon and Congee (perfectly and unintentionaly right on time for Chinese New Year this Friday!).  And today we are going to talk about potstickers.

All these Asian dishes are amazing and easy to make.  And that is exactly what I need right now.  My schedule this semester starts about 2 hours earlier most days, and I am just getting too tired during the day.  I’m straddling that awkward time period of a college student who wants to sleep until noon and an adult who gets up early.  I want to stay up late at night to facebook stalk and mindlessly look at tumblr but I also feel like I am wasting my day when I sleep in too much on the weekends.  Exhausting.

But when I come home weary and tired (sometimes sitting in a chair all day is just exhausting), these potstickers are a great way to give my spirits a small boost.  When I eat potstickers, I taste home.  Mom used to make potstickers for dinner often (it was something all of us actually liked).  She would slave away at the stove and make batches after batches of potstickers, which my dad, sister, and I would promptly devour.  Eventually our bellies would fill, and mom would wrap up her batches and finally get to eat herself.  Sorry, mom, we were just too hungry and loved potstickers too much.

These potstickers are really a quick dinner- the main work is just in the prep of sealing the dumplings.  My sister who is a newbie at cooking and dislikes a lot of work can easily make potstickers and will be probably making them a lot when she moves into her first apartment.   These potstickers are also a great meal to freeze ahead.  If you completely make the potstickers and then freeze them, just let them thaw in your fridge and reheat.  Boom.  Instant delicious meal with little work.

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PORK POTSTICKERS
From my Mom

INGREDIENTS

30-40 wonton wrappers
1 pound ground pork
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
Cooking spray, for coating pan*
Water, for steaming

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, mix together ground prok, soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onions.

Lay out wonton wrappers in a single layer. Place about 1 heaping teaspoon of the pork filling in the center of each wonton wrapper. Dipping your finger in water, trace the outline around the edges of the wonton wrappers. Seal shut. Repeat with all wontons.

Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Coat pan with oil. Place wonton wrappers in batches in a single layer on the pan. Brown on both sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Fill pan with enough water that the wonton’s are almost halfway covered. Cover with lid. Let cook until water cooks off, about 5-7 minutes. Use a spatula to unstick the potstickers from the pan (they are sticking to the pot– get it?!)  Repeat with remaining wontons.

Makes about 40 potstickers, serves 3-4.

*I find that cooking spray or using a misto is easier to coat the pan rather than just using straight oil

Congee (Chinese Rice Porridge)

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So there is this big sporting, widely televised event that is slowly approaching.

And I will not be watching.  Nope.  Just not a fan.  Not even the commercials or half time show peak my interest.  Instead I will actually be at a department function that night and determinedly ignoring all Super Bowl conversation.  But this means I actually have something to do Super Bowl night rather than sit at home, bitter at football and the world.

But today I am not talking any more about the Super Bowl.  Just soup.

I know “rice porridge” may not be a huge attraction, but Congee is a very special soup.  I first tried it when my aunt hosted Chinese New Year many years ago, and it has been true love since.  Congee is a basic, hearty rice soup, but the real appeal is all the stuff you get to put on top of it.

Or the fried bread that is a traditionally served with it.  Insert drooling emoji here.

For a long time, I always relied on going to Chinese restaurants for my congee fix when I was back in Houston.  Mom tried making it at home once, and it turned out less than desirable.  But with determination in my heart, I tried again.  And I was happily surprised that my congee at home was just as good as anywhere else.  So I piled up a bunch of toppings and tucked in.

And I suppose you could eat this while watching the S**** B***.

CONGEE: CHINESE RICE PORRIDGE
Adapted from Serious Eats

INGREDIENTS

6 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1 cup long grain rice
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2-2 cups water
White pepper, to taste
8 links Chinese sausage or 1/2 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced

For Toppings:
French fried onions
Chopped green onions
Sriracha
Soy sauce

DIRECTIONS

In a large sauce pan combine chicken broth, ginger, rice, and salt. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 1- 1 1/2 hours, stirring and mashing as it cooks. You will need to stir often to avoid rice burning on the bottom of the pan. As it cooks, add water as need to reach desired consistency (I used the full 2 cups).

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Brown sausage/pork. Remove from pan, leaving some drippings. Fry shallots in pan, using any olive oil as needed. Stir meat and shallots into congee.

Season with taste with sriracha and soy sauce. Top with green onions and French fried onions.

Baked Crab Rangoon: Secret Recipe Club

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Three.  Day.  Weekend. !!!

Three day weekends are the best.  It’s even better when you keep forgetting that you have an extra day off, and then you get to remember: “hey, I don’t have to go to work on Monday!”.  And boy, did I need today off.  The semester is back in full swing, but I am experiencing a little lag getting back into the groove of things.

Now that I am back to being busy with work and after about a month of lots of baking and cooking during the holidays, I was ready for some easy, quick recipes.  When I was assigned Sara’s blog Cook with Sara for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, my recipe requirements were that it was somewhat healthy and that it was easy to make.

This baked crab rangoon fit my requirements perfectly.  The fried crab & cheese puffs were always one of my favorites when we ordered Chinese takeout as a kid.  But now that I had that chance to make them myself I did two things: baked them instead of frying them (because messing with oil is too much work sometimes) and added lots of crab.

BAKED CRAB RANGOON
Adapted from Cook with Sara

INGREDIENTS

20 wonton wrappers
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1-2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
3 scallions, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
Sriracha sauce, optional
3/4 cup crab meat
Oil, for brushing

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, mix together cream cheese, Greek yogurt, scallions, garlic, Worcestershire, soy sauce, and sriracha sauce (to taste). Fold in crab meat.

Place wontons on prepared baking sheet in a single layer. Place a small spoonful on filling on each wonton. To seal the wontons, brush a wet finger along two edges of the wonton wrapper and pinch closed. Brush folded wontons with oil (or use nonstick cooking spray). Bake for 9-12 minutes, until golden brown. Serve with additional scallions and with sweet chili dipping sauce.

Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

Traditional Pork Banh Mi

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I love fall for many reasons.  Cooler weather, lots of fun holidays, and the opportunity to wear my favorite sweaters & scarves.  But most importantly: the television.

Sure, there are some good summer hit shows and my favorite year-long reality shows, but I love fall when there are so many new shows to try out.  I haven’t gotten an opportunity to watch all the shows I wanted, so this weekend Hulu and I are going to get real close and personal.  Tell me- what should I be watching?

If you tell me what to watch, I will tell you what we should be eating as we watch TV (because let’s be honest, lots of us eat diner in front of the TV, right?).  I love a good sandwich, and I especially love any form of banh mi.  Banh mi is the main sandwich of Vietnamese cuisine, and they usually have lots and lots of good stuff stuffed into them.

I have made a sweet potato vegetarian banh mi before, but I really wanted to try a more traditional pork version.  The original recipe involved cooking pork belly, but I just ain’t got time for that so in came pulled pork to save the day. (If you are looking for an amazing crock pot pulled pork recipe, feel free to check out my recipe for carnitas.  I would just advice to leave out the dried spices but do everything else the same).

I may have to whip up one of these babies and watch some good TV soon.

TRADITIONAL PORK BANH MI
Adapted from White on Rice Couple

INGREDIENTS

For the Pork:
2 1/2 cups pulled pork
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Salt, to taste

For the Banh Mi:
French bread, sliced into rolls
Liver pate, thinly sliced
Mayonnaise
Pickled carrot and daikon
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Jalapenos, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

For the Pork:

In a saucepan, combine sugar, water, fish sauce, and soy sauce.  Bring to a boil.  Stir in pulled pork and cook until warmed through and most of the liquid is gone.  Keep warm

For the Banh Mi:

Wrap French bread in foil.  Warm in oven.  Cut slit in bread.  Spread mayonnaise on bread.  Top with liver pate, pork, pickled carrot and daikon, cucumber, and jalapenos.

Makes 5-8 sandwiches.

Vegetarian Banh Mi

I have always loved Chinese food (excluding a large period of my childhood when I burnt out on stir fry after my sister requested it constantly for dinner), but in my early years my love was mostly devoted to Americanized Chinese food.  Fried, salty, and covered in soy sauce were my requirements, and I always managed to pick around any vegetables that snuck their way onto my plate. I remember being baffled when I went to my aunt’s house and people chose to wrap their egg rolls in lettuce.
While those dishes are still delicious, I have now learned the value of more traditional dishes and including vegetables.  Not only have I begun wrapping my egg rolls in lettuce, but I have also begun to try new Asian cuisines- just recently I went to a good Korean place here in town, and I am now addicted to kimchi   Korean food here in the Texas panhandle- who knew?  I have also begun to try some Vietnamese cuisine as well and have begun experimenting in my own kitchen with Vietnamese dishes.
Banh mi are Asian sandwiches, a result of French colonization in Vietnam.  In general, banh mi sandwiches have fresh herbs and vegetables like cucumbers, do chua (pickled carrots and daikon), and cilantro   Real variety comes with the protein you put on your sandwich: pork, beef, chicken, tofu, meatballs are all possible options.  My version is a vegetarian version of the banh mi.  As soon as I saw the words “tempura sweet potato”, I knew I was had to make and love this sandwich.
This sandwich does require some work: advance prep to let components chill and develop flavor overnight and deep frying- but it. is. so. worth it.  The tempura sweet potato is to die for (please make extra so you can have some tempura sweet potato fries on the side, you will regret it if you don’t), and the mix of the salty veggies and the fresh cilantro is wonderful.  I definitely will be making more banh mi soon.
VEGETARIAN BANH MI
Adapted from Serious Eats
INGREDIENTS

For the Do Chua:
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 medium daikon, julienned
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

For the Scallion Oil:
4 scallions, chopped
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce

For the Tempura Sweet Potato:
2 sweet potatoes
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup cold soda water
Vegetable oil, for frying
Salt, for seasoning

Toppings:
1 loaf French bread
1 avocado, thinly sliced
Cucumbers, thinly sliced
Cilantro, chopped
Pickled jalapeños

DIRECTIONS

For the Do Chua:

In a large bowl combined carrots, daikon, salt, and sugar.  Massage vegetables until salt and sugar is absorbed.  Add water and rice wine vinegar.  Stir.  Chill overnight.

For the Scallion Oil:

In a bowl combine scallions, sesame oil, and soy sauce.  Set aside.

For the Tempura Sweet Potato

Heat oil to 400°F.

Slice sweet potato in half and cut into 1/4 inch strips.  In a large bowl mix flour, cornstarch, and salt together.  Stir in cold soda water.  Dip sweet potatoes in batter one at a time.  Shake of excess batter and repeat with remaining sweet potatoes.  Fry for 3-5 minutes, agitating often, until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.  Salt immediately after.

For the Banh Mi:

Wrap French bread in foil and warm in oven.  Slice into four pieces and create a slit in each.  Spread avocado on one side of bread and top with scallion oil mixture.  Layer cilantro, cucumber, jalapeños  and do chau on top.  Place tempura sweet potato pieces on top.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Tamagoyaki: Secret Recipe Club

I have been having several weeks where I am just craving certain foods.  Last week it was sugar in any form I could get it, which lead to a baking extravaganza.  The past few days it was meat (I am still yearning to go grab a perfect hamburger somewhere) and sushi.  Odd mix, but I don’t question what my stomach tells me.

I have always wanted to make sushi at home, but this past week I was too busy with school and then my mini-vacation back in Houston for spring break (an advantage of still being a student at my age), so I knew real sushi wasn’t in the cards.  When I was browsing My Catholic Kitchen, for the Secret Recipe Club, I came across a recipe for Tamagoyaki, or egg sushi, that caught my interest.  Basically, it is eggs flavored with soy, mirin, sugar, and salt that are cooked and rolled tight like sushi.  I was hooked!

While Veronica’s looked very beautiful and authentic,  I had some sushi rolling problems.  My first attempt was a little sloppy, and my second attempt ended up half on my counter-top due to some overzealous pan swirling.  My third attempt was much more successful, and I think I am getting the hang of the rolling technique.  Even if the rolling doesn’t turn out completely right, the egg sushi is still delicious (as evidenced by the fact that I have eaten this three times).  It’s a little sweet and salty sushi omelette.  I love the different flavor of the eggs, and I am definitely going to have to make these again.  It will help me perfect my rolling technique, right?

Make sure to check out the other reveals today for The Secret Recipe Club!

TAMAGOYAKI
Slightly Adapted from My Catholic Kitchen
INGREDIENTS

2 eggs
2 egg whites
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon mirin
Butter, for greasing the pan

DIRECTIONS

In a bowl, combine eggs, egg whites, soy sauce, sugar, mirin, and a pinch of salt.  Stir until combined but do not beat (we want this to be denser than how we typically make eggs).

Grease a small skillet over medium-high heat.  Pour in enough egg mixture to just cover the pan.  Tilt the pan so the egg mixture is evenly spread.  Cook for 2-3 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom.  Fold the top and bottom sides of your egg mixtures in about 1/2 inch.  Starting for the the edge, roll the egg mixture into a tight roll.  Leave in the pan.

Grease the pan again.  Pour in enough egg mixture to just cover the pan and repeat.  This time, fold the cooking egg mixture around your first roll.  Repeat with remaining egg mixture.  Remove from pan and cut into slices.

Serves 1-2.

Here is a helpful video on the rolling technique.

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Pork Sticky Rice Dumplings

Happy Chinese New Year everyone!  Although I am a little bummed to be missing our traditional family celebration back at home, I will be celebrating today on my own.  2013 is the year of the snake, which is my year, so I am doubly excited!  Maybe this luck will help me figure out a topic for my thesis soon?  Please?

This dish brings back a lot of memories.  When I was a young preteen my doctor told me I “supposedly” had a gluten sensitivity because I was having some sinus problems.  And for some reason, we decided to listen to him, and I went off gluten for almost a year.  Now, this was way back before gluten free was a thing.  There were no gluten free cake mixes in the store, no one had ever heard of quinoa, and all gluten free food was plain awful.  No, I’m not bitter.

Despite my less than thrilled attitude about my new diet, my mom did her best to try and make me good food and recreate classics that I loved, all while I dreamed of McDonald’s cheeseburgers.  She ran all over town to speciality stores to get special, foreign ingredients and scoured for gluten free recipes wherever she could.  She made me cookies that crumbled instantly at the touch, and she made gray pasta that had to be eaten immediately before turning to mush, and bread that was always a little “off”. Now, I complain with love, but I would have starved if it weren’t for my mom, but the weird foods from this era definitely stick out in my mind.

This recipe comes from that era.  Before you all click off this page and never return, this was one of the best recipes my mom found. A salty filling is put inside a dumpling dough.  The dumpling is then deep fried, giving a crunchy outside and a sticky chewy inside.  The description sounds strange, but I promise it’s good.  It’s the only gluten free recipe that I pulled out of the archives to eat today.

Oh, and Mom: I haven’t forgotten about how you lied and made me get blood drawn for this gluten free test.  Never forget.  But with all the work you put into my diet, we can call it even.

PORK STICKY RICE DUMPLINGS
From My Mom

For the Pork Filling:
4 ounces pork loin, diced
1 teaspoon mirin
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 scallions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon seame oil
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 cup water
3 ounce dried shrimp
Oil, for deep frying

For the Dough:
3 cups glutinous rice flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1- 1 1/2 cups water

DIRECTIONS

For the Pork Mixture:

In a bowl combine pork, mirin, and cornstarch.  Mix to coat.  Heat canola oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat.  Add pork mixture and cook for 3-5 minutes, until cooked through and browned.

In a bowl whisk soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, cornstarch, and water together.  Add scallions and sauce to pan.  Bring to a boil and let simmer until thickened, about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add dried shrimp and toss.  Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

For the Dough:

In a large bowl combine rice flour, sugar, and 1 cup of water.  Stir together until a soft dough forms, adding additional water 2 tablespoons at a time as needed.  Turn onto a lightly oiled surface and knead until dough comes together.  Roll into a log and cut into 15 pieces.

For the Dumplings:

Heat oil to 350-375°F in a wok, deep pan, or deep fryer.

Take pice of dough and flatten on a hard, oiled surface.  Form into a 2 inch circle.  Spoon about 1 teaspoon of pork filling in the center.  Pinch closed.  Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.  Using a slotted spoon transfer dumplings to hot oil.  Fry until dumplings are golden brown and rise to the surface, 4-5 minutes.  Drain on a wire rack.  Eat immediately.

Makes 15 dumplings.

Pad See Ew

Typically, you don’t want to hear the word “ew” during dinner.  Nor do you want it included in the name of your dish.  But I promise you the only “ew” involved in this dish is in the name only.
Pad See Ew is a Thai stir fried noodle dish with a sweet, charred, spicy sauce.  I used to shy away from anything associated with Thai cuisine for fear of spiciness, but I’ve grown to love spice more and more (although what I call spicy is considered mild by most).  I actually even bought my first bottle of sriracha, and I love to cook with it at home, especially since I control the heat.  You can use sriracha in this dish (highly recommended), red pepper flakes, or any kind of spice you love.  Or, you can leave out the spice completely.  Also feel free to throw in any type of meat your heart desires: shrimp, pork, chicken, or beef.
I think we should unofficially call this Pad See Yum.
PAD SEE EW
From Cinnamon Freud
INGREDIENTS

8 ounces wide rice noodles
1/4 cup dark/black soy sauce*
3 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Sriracha sauce, to taste
1-2 teaspoons sesame oil
4 cups broccoli florets
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped broccoli
3 eggs lightly beaten
Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Cook rice noodles according to package instructions (use the least amount of time).  Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl whisk soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, and sriracha sauce together.  Set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat.  Coat pan with sesame oil.  Add broccoli and cook until crisp tender, about 4-5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.  Push aside.  Add additional sesame oil if needed and add eggs.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook 1-3 minutes.  Flip and cook an additional 1-3 minutes.  Break into small pieces with spatula.

Add rice noodles and mix everything together.  Reduce heat to medium.  Stir in sauce and mix together.  Cook, not stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce is absorbed and noodles are slightly charred.  Stir and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.

Serves 4.

*This is different from normal soy sauce and can usually be found at an Asian grocery store.  It’s thicker, tangier, and more potent.