Chinese New Year begins January 23, 2012. This is a great excuse to create Chinese cuisine for your family.
Our family has a great time sitting around a table dipping and dunking Potstickers into various sauces.
I remember one Sunday my daughter had invited a couple of teenage boys from California to dinner. She had met them at a youth conference at a local University. It can be so awkward eating at someones home that your don't know. Chinese is a perfect solution to engaging everyone in food prep and conversation. I believe we sat at the table for more than two hours talking while dipping potstickers and making Thai chicken lettuce wraps. We had a great time and the boys really opened up and talked nonstop.
I thought it was the food and company, but in reality they were just really outgoing guys. It was a memorable event. We had a great time.
Potstickers are a family favorite and a great way to enlist help. Many hands make light work. Grab a couple of children and it can cut the prep to a fraction of what it would take you to do it alone.
Do you remember Martin Yan from the PBS cooking show "Yan Can Cook"? If you remember than you're as old as I am. This is a recipe from Martin Yan that was published in a Cuisine at Home magazine in February 2006. It has been a family favorite since then.
We'll start my making the Hot-and-Sour Chili Sauce. Making the sauce first allows it to sit for a while so the flavors can blend. You will need the following:
Soy sauce, seasoned rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce, scallions, hot chili oil, cilantro, garlic and fresh ginger.
All of the above ingredients can be found in your local grocery store. I like to make a trip to an Asian market to stock up on staples for Chinese food. I think the cost is far cheaper at the Asian market.
In a bowl, add 2 tablespoons soy sauce
Two tablespoons season rice vinegar.
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
Two teaspoons of hot chili oil. If you are not a fan of heat, reduce to 1 teaspoon or substitute with 2 teaspoons of sesame oil.
Cut the tops off of about 4 scallions.
Then finely chop.
Add to the soy mixture.
Cut a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger. I love ginger so I generally end up doubling the amount.
Peel the ginger root and slice it.
Cut each slice into match-stick size pieces.
Then finely dice.
Add to the soy mixture.
Add one teaspoon of minced garlic. You can finely chop it with a knife or use a garlic press.
Chop a couple of teaspoons (or so) of cilantro.
Add to the soy mixture.
Combine all of the ingredients. Set aside to allow the flavors to blend.
The sauce can be made a day in advance and refrigerated. I like to bring to room temperature to serve.
For the Mandarin Pork filling you will need:
Napa cabbage, ground pork or chicken (I like using pork tenderloin), chicken broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, scallions, fresh ginger, white pepper.
40-50 potsticker or gyoza wrappers, oil and water for cooking.
Begin with the Napa cabbage. Slice the end off.
I like to wash and dry the leaves.
Thinly slice the cabbage and place in a medium size bowl.
Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of salt. Set aside for 15 minutes. The salt will pull the water out of the cabbage.
Cut the pork into about 1 to 2-inch chunks. You can use chicken breast if you want. Both are very good. You can also purchase ground pork or chicken.
Put the cut up pork into a food processor. I'm using 8 to 10 ounces.
Pulse a few times.
Add 1 tablespoon of cornstarch.
1 tablespoon soy sauce.
1 tablespoon sliced scallions.
Mmmmm. More ginger. About an inch piece of ginger root.
The recipe calls for 2 teaspoons, but I'm pretty sure this is closer to a heaping tablespoon.
Add 1/2 teaspoon white pepper.
1/4 cup chicken stock.
Take the napa cabbage that was set aside. Squeeze out the water.
Add to the food processor.
Process until all of the ingredients are blended together well and chopped very fine.
The fun begins. Put the pork mixture into a bowl and have a small bowl of water nearby.
I like to line up four of the potsticker wraps and work on an assembly line. This is where children come in handy.
Place a teaspoon of the mixture into the center of each wrapper. Don't put too much of the filling...you'll find out why very soon.
Dip you finger into the water.
Moisten the edges of the wrapper. Be sure to go ALL the way around the wrapper.
Pick of the wrapper and fold it in half. Press the edges firmly against each other to create a tight seal.
Dip your finger back into the water and wet the edges again.
"Pinch pleat" the edges to form a fan type shape. Or as close to it as you can get.
MY son is quite particular at shaping his potstickers. His potstickers become works of art. Ahhh I'm not so particular. He gets a little frustrated with me at times. This method works for me.
Do what works for you.
Place the filled potstickers on a baking sheet or tray. I like to line my baking sheet with a Silpat because the potstickers have a tendency to stick. When you go to lift them off to cook, the stick and rip the wrapper leaving your filling on the baking sheet. Parchment paper works well or sprinkle your baking sheet with a little cornstarch.
I'm SO done!
I have exactly 50 potstickers.
Cover with plastic wrap so they don't dry out.
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of oil.
When the oil is hot, carefully lift the potstickers off the baking sheet and place in the hot skillet. Don't move them around. Just let them cook right in the spot you put them. Because...
You want to create a brown crispy bottom. This will give the potstickers a deep flavor.
Now add 1/3 cup of water. Brace yourself because this is going to steam and spatter everywhere. Have a lid ready.
Once the water hits the oil it really splatters everywhere.
Lower the temperature to medium-low and cook for 5-6 minutes.
Remove the lid and transfer the potstickers to a warm platter or large bowl.
Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and repeat the process until all of the potstickers have cooked.
Sit down with your family and friends and enjoy the Mandarin Pork Potsickers and that you just slaved over.
You will find this recipe worth the effort and time. It's fabulous. Yes! Yan Can Cook.
Chinese New Year - The year of the dragon.
The Dragon is said to be a deliverer of good fortune and a master of authority. Therefore, those people born in Dragon years are to be honored and respected. The Dragon is a beautiful creature, colorful and flamboyant. An extroverted bundle of energy, gifted and irrepressible, everything Dragons do is on a grand scale - big ideas and extreme ambitions. However, this behavior is natural and isn't meant for show. Because they are confident, fearless in the face of challenge, they are almost inevitably successful.
How about that? I have a grandchild being born this year...brace yourself, Charees!
Ewww. I was born in the year of the Rat.
Rat: quick-witted, smart, charming and persuasive.
All of the above are true, but still...a rat?
What Chinese Zodiac were you born under?
Mandarin Pork Potstickers
2 1/2 cups napa cabbage, thinly sliced
8 to 10- oz ground pork or chicken
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon scallions, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
40 - 50 potsticker or gyoza wappers
Sprinkle cabbage with salt and let stand for 15 minutes. Squeeze cabbage tightly in your fist to remove all excess liquid.
In the bowl of a food processor add the pork, stock, soy sauce, cornstarch, scallions, ginger, white pepper and cabbage. Process until mixture is well combined and no large chunks are visible.
Fill each wrapper with a teaspoon of the meat mixture; wrap and seal. heat a large saute pan over medium until hot; add 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. swirling to coat. Add about 12 potstickers, seam side up and cook until bottoms are golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Add 1/3 cup water, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook until water has evaporated, 5-6 minutes. Remove potstickers and keep warm. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, the repeat process until all of the potstickers are cooked.
Hot-and-Sour Chili Sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons scallions, minced
2 teaspoons chili oil
2 teaspoons fresh cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ginger, minced
Combine all of the ingredients in a medium size bowl and set aside.