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.

Homemade Pierogi

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Many cultures have their own version of a dumpling or ravioli-  a food in which a filling (often meaty or cheesy) is wrapped by some kind of pasta or dough.  And in every culture, I tend to love it.

My friends, meet the pierogi, Poland’s version of this wonderful food.  For the past several years, I have begun a family tradition of having pierogi for the New Year’s along with some other traditional Polish food fare.  Thank goodness for holidays and an excuse to eat more than normal.

Pierogi are a little work intensive since you are making your own dough and filling, but if you love to cook, they are fun to make!  You can also assemble the little dumplings the night before to bake off the next day. Common fillings are potatoes & cheese, meat, cabbage, and sauerkraut, but the sky is the limit if you are feeling creative.

If you are planning a New Year’s party or gathering, I highly recommend you consider including some pierogi.

PIEROGI
Adapted from Aunt Helen

INGREDIENTS

For the Meat Filling:
1 pound ground meet (beef or pork)
1 onions, minced
1 tablespoons margarine/shortening
1 slices stale white bread
Milk or water
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

For the Mushroom & Sauerkraut Filling:
1 onion, minced
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces dried wild mushrooms (optional, can just use more normal mushrooms)
16-24 ounces mushrooms, sliced
Salt and pepper
1 – 1 1/2 cups sauerkraut, drained

For the Dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 eggs
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water

Butter, for pan frying

DIRECTIONS

For the Meat Filling:

Brown ground meat. Drain grease and remove. Dry off grease with paper towel. Stir fry onion in butter in a heavy skillet 5 minutes. Add ground meat. Remove from heat.

Soak bread in just enough milk to cover. When thoroughly soaked, about 10 minutes, squeeze out excess milk. Stir bread, salt, and pepper into onion mixture until well combined.

For the Mushroom & Sauerkraut Filling:

Soak dried mushrooms in warm water for at least 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook onion & 1 tablespoon butter until until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add mushrooms and remaining butter, seasoning with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms are tender, about 6-9 minutes. Stir in sauerkraut and adjust seasoning to taste.

For the Dough:

Mound flour on a bread board and make a well in the center. Drop eggs and salt into well. Add water; working from the center to outside of flour mound, mix flour into liquid in center with one hand and keep flour mounded with other hand. Knead until dough is firm and well mixed.

Cover dough with a warm bowl; let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough into halves. On floured surface, using half of dough at a time, roll dough as thin as possible. Cut out 3-inch rounds with large biscuit cutter.

Place a small spoonful of filling a little to one side on each round of dough. Moisten edge with water, fold over and press edges together firmly. Be sure they are well sealed.

Fill a large saucepan with water.  Bring to a boil.  Drop Pierogi into boiling salted water. Cook gently 3 to 5 minutes, or until pierogi float. Lift out of water with perforated spoon.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Add butter to coat pan.  Fry pierogis in batches, about 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown.  Serve warm with sour cream, cabbage, or applesauce.

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.

Pork Carnitas with Peach Salsa: Improv Blog

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I wish these pork carnitas with peach salsa and I could be reunited.  It would feel so good.

As a pun lover, I really enjoyed this month’s Improv Challenge of peaches and herbs.  A great summer ingredient combo and a great singing duo.

Now, these carnitas.  They are great for many reasons.

First, they are delicious.  I do not know how to properly convey to you all how good these pork carnitas are.  If I were texting you, I would use lots of random emojis and lots of explanation points, but since this is a blog let me just say: yum. Let it be known that I ate these pork carnitas three days in a row and was very sad to have to eat something different on the fourth day.

Second, they are easy to make.  Just rub some spices on the pork and stick it in your slower cooker.  Instead of sweating in the kitchen, you can watch a Real Housewive marathon  while dinner cooks itself.  After pondering why Vicki is dating Brooks or how Lydia’s hair is so thick (jealous), you can just shred up the pork and top it with a quick peach salsa. Then you sit down and eat.  Easy.

Third, this recipe makes a lot of food.  Meaning you can feed a large crowd or happily eat pork by yourself all week long- it tastes great leftover.  With this pork, you are ready for several nights of  reality TV marathons.  After watching Real Housewives the first night, I recommend transitioning to Princesses of Long Island.  Last night, I literally just had to sit in silence for a few moments to ponder that show.  It’s unexplainable, awful, and wonderful.

What do you mean work?  No thank you, I have pork carnitas to attend to. And bad reality TV to watch.

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PORK CARNITAS WITH PEACH SALSA
Carnitas adapted from Oh Sweet Basil
Peach Salsa from Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

For the Pork Carnitas:
4-5 pounds pork shoulder
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried cinnamon
12 ounces beer
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup picante sauce

For the Peach Salsa:
4-6 peaches, diced
1/2 shallot, minced
1/4-1/3 cup candied jalapeños, minced
Splash lime juice
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup chopped cilantro

For Serving:
Tortillas
Cojita cheese, crumbled
Avocado slices

DIRECTIONS

For the Pork Carnitas:

Rub spices onto pork.  In a slow cooker, combine pork, spices, beer, lime juice, water, and salsa.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until fork tender.

Preheat broiler.

Remove pork from slow cooker and shred with ford.  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Broil until browned and crispy, about 3-6 minutes.

For the Peach Salsa:

Combine peaches, shallot, jalapeños, lime juice, salt, and cilantro in a bowl. Mix together.

Serve pork on tacos topped with peach salsa, cojita cheese, and avocado slices.

Serves 6-8.

Thanks to our host, Frugal Antics of a Harried Housewife– make sure to check out what everyone else made!

Thai Pork and Cabbage Salad

 
Sriracha, known to me as rooster sauce, has scared me for years.  When placed on our family dinner table, it was always situated as far away from me as possible. I knew that rooster sauce was spicy, and I knew that I was not ready to handle it.
 
Well, imagine my own surprise when I was shopping in the grocery store many years later and felt the sudden urge to buy sriracha sauce.  The big bottle that was cheaper per ounce than the smaller bottle even.  I began by slowly adding a few drops to dishes like Pad Thai, but I was not fully utilizing that spice.  Then suddenly I got the urge to put some hot sauce in my scrambled eggs (is it normal for someone to be surprised by themselves so often?).  It was delicious.  I kept adding more, and I think I may now officially be a fan of spice.
 
This dish is perfect for anyone on the spice spectrum: a spice newbie, a spice hater, or a spice lover.  Adjust your rooster sauce to taste.  The crunchy cabbage, the browned pork, and the cool cucumber all come together in a quick meal that is sure to satisfy all.  I highly suggest surprising yourself and trying a lot of sriracha sauce.
 
THAI PORK AND CABBAGE SALAD
Adapted from The Sweets Life
 
INGREDIENTS
 
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
Salt and pepper
1 small head cabbage, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon lime juice
Sriracha sauce, to taste
1 cucumber, quartered and sliced
Honey roasted peanuts, for topping
Fresh torn mint, for topping
 
DIRECTIONS
 
Heat a large wok over medium-high heat.  Brown pork, seasoned with salt and pepper, until cooked through.  Drain and set aside.  Keep some of the grease in the pan still.
 
Put wok back over medium-high heat.  Cook cabbage, seasoned with salt, until slightly cooked but still crunchy, 4-5 minutes.  Return ground pork to pan.  Add fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, and sriracha.  Cook until liquid has mostly evaporated, 3-5 minutes.  
 
Season cucumber slices with salt.  Mix cucumber into salad.  Transfer to a serving bowl or plates and top with peanuts and mint.
 
Serves 3-4 as a man course.

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.

Aunt Lena’s Singapore Noodles

Happy Christmas in July everyone!  I know, I know- I should stop wishing time away and enjoy the present.  Thanksgiving and Christmas will come in their own time, and I should enjoy summer while it’s still here. You’re right, you’re right (See, Mom, I can say it).  But why should I wait 6 months to enjoy some special holiday food?  While this is not an American Christmas tradition, Singapore noodles are a staple at our Christmas Eve dinner.  And they should become a staple in your kitchen too.

Singapore noodles are basically thin rice noodles seasoned with soy sauce and curry then stir fried  a bunch of stuff mixed in.  I am using the term “stuff” in the technical way here, but to be more specific: a bunch of good stuff.  Like shrimp, char siu (Chinese roast pork), ham, egg, and green onions.  It is truly delicious, and you can mix and match  the “stuff” to your own tastes.  For example, when I helped make this batch, we “forgot” the green pepper my aunt normally includes in her noodles.  Oops, what a complete and total accident. A compleeete tragedy…

I have written up the recipe how I generally like it: heavy on the char siu, shrimp, and eggs, little lighter on the ham, and sans green pepper (yuck). Adjust this recipe to make for your family’s tastes. Or adjust to your own tastes, and make your family pick around what they don’t like and search for the missing green pepper.

And now you know why you never see any recipes on here that have peppers in them. Peppers are my arch nemesis, my kryptonite, my mortal enemy. And these Singapore noodles don’t really need it to be yummy anyway.

AUNT LENA’S SINGAPORE NOODLES
From Aunt Lena
INGREDIENTS

1 pound 50/40 count shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons rice cooking wine
Salt and pepper
Canola oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 slab Char Siu (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced into thin strips
1/4 pound ham, sliced into thin strips
3 eggs, lightly beaten
16 ounces rice vermicelli
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons madran curry powder, to taste
5 green onions, chopped

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine shrimp, cooking wine, salt, and pepper. (If you are using frozen/thawed or limp shrimp, cover in cornstarch and let sit for 5-10 minutes beforehand; wash the cornstarch off then add the cooking wine, salt, and pepper.)

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Coat the pan with canola oil and let heat for 1 minute. Add onion and cook for 5-7 minutes, until tender. Add garlic, cook for 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink, about 5-7 minutes. Add char siu and ham and cook for 2-3 minutes, until warmed through. Remove from heat, pour into a large bowl, and set aside.

Heat a small skillet over medium low heat. Add eggs and rotate pan to ensure egg coats the entire surface. Fry until firm, turning once. Remove egg from pan and cut into strips. Add to shrimp mixture and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and a little bit of oil. Add noodles and cook for 4 minutes. Drain and let noodles cool slightly. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Coat pan liberally with olive oil. Add cooled noodles, stirring to coat with oil. Add soy sauce and stir to coat. Stir slowly and carefully to avoid breaking up the noodles too much. Carefully stir in shrimp, pork, and ham mixture, adding more oil if needed. Add curry powder and stir together. Cook for 1-2 minutes, until warmed through. Add green onions and cook for 1-2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 6-8.

Note: slice your onions, char siu, and ham in the shape of the noodles: thin and long