Yesterday, my husband and I had a friend over for Mexican food. We got to talking about food. What else do you talk about when you’re eating after all? My husband attempted to explain about all the ethnic foods I am introducing him to, but he got stuck on “Tzatziki.” I don’t really blame him. Finally, he abandoned searching for the word and instead brought up the potstickers we enjoyed a few days prior. But our friend was baffled at our considering potstickers ethnic, because to him, they are a “Utah thing!” Potstickers, as it turns out, are a Chinese thing. I am happy they are accessible here though!
Most people eat these at Chinese food restaurants (My mum, for one, loves them). If people do attempt to make them at home, they generally use the store-bought wrappers. I made mine from scratch, using a recipe from “Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch” and they are so easy (and CHEAP) that I will never buy them again.
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/3 cup water
Combine flour and water in a medium bowl. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes until it appears smooth. Form the dough into a 9 inch cylinder with your palms. Cut the dough in half lengthwise. Dust both pieces with flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let them rest at room temperature for 20 minutes. Meanwhile make the filling.
There are a million fillings that you can use for potstickers. I used the traditional ginger pork filling adapted from “Dim Sum: The Art of Chinese Tea Lunch”
- 8 oz finely shredded napa cabbage (or regular cabbage)
- 1 tbsp salt
- 8 oz ground pork
- 2 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 scallion (green onion) finely sliced
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp rice wine (apple juice)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil (you NEED this to make it taste Chinese!)
Toss the cabbage with the salt in a large bowl and let it stand 30 minutes to remove excess water. Rinse the cabbage, and squeeze out all the water you can. Preheat the oven to 200F (this is so you can keep batches of cooked potstickers warm while you cook the rest). Mix the pork, ginger, scallion, soy sauce, apple juice, sugar and sesame oil in a large bowl. Mix in the cabbage. Refrigerate anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours.
To assemble the dumplings, roll the cylinders out to 12 inches each (one at a time). Cut out 3-3 1/4 inch circles. Put a tsp of filling in the center of the dough. Bring the top and bottom of the dough to the center of the filling and pinch shut forming a lip. On one side of the dumpling, pinch 4 1/4 inch pleats in the dough along the lip. When you have 10 or so ready, heat 1 tsp of oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is almost smoking, drop in the dumpling. Fry for 2 minutes (only on one side). Add 1/2 cup of water to the skillet. Cover and let the dumplings cook for 5 minutes. When the water is just about gone, remove the lid and let the potstickers cook until they are light brown and stuck. Repeat until all the dumplings are cooked. Serve hot with Soy Vinegar Dip.
Soy Vinegar Dip
- 1/8 cup soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp sugar
Heat ingredients with 1 tbsp water over low heat for 1 1/2 minutes. Remove from heat and spoon into small dishes. Top with a scallion sliced paper-thin if desired.
ps. The Spring Rolls were mediocre so I will not give you the recipe here. Do you have a delicious spring roll recipe?
Lately, Orem has found itself in the midst of a week-long thunder storm. One night, the storm got so loud and the lightening got so near, I confess I fell asleep to visions of our apartment burning down. In addition to this electrical storm, it felt like we were living inside a waterfall. It rained sheets. I think it was this sudden down-pour that got me craving Chinese food.
Let me explain, in Victoria, we ate authentic Chinese food all the time. It also rained all the time. So there you go. I decided to attempt Sweet and Sour Pork. The last recipe I used for sweet and sour chicken was very disappointing. It wasn’t really sweet, it wasn’t really sour, and it wasn’t red. It was a letdown. This recipe however, from a cookbook I got second hand for fifty cents, is deliciously sweet, sour and red. It was a success.
- 1 lb pork tenderloin (cut into 1 inch pieces)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tsp five-flavor spice (optional, this gave the meat a kind of cinnamon-flavor)
- 4 tbsp cornstarch
- Oil for deep frying
- 3 tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 med onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 green bell peppers, cut into 1 inch pieces (you can use red peppers too, I just don’t like them!)
- 5 tbsp sugar
- 5 tbsp ketchup
- 5 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup water
- 3 slices pineapple, cut into 1 inch pieces
Put the pork in boiling water for 2 minutes. Remove and pat dry. Mix the egg yolk, salt, soy sauce and five-flavor spice. Marinate the meat in this mixture for at least 15 minutes. Coat the pork in cornstarch. Heat oil to med-high in a skillet. Deep fry pork until light brown. Remove and drain on paper towel. Heat 3 tbsp oil and stir-fry garlic, onion, and green peppers, on high heat for a few minutes. Add sugar, ketchup and vinegar. When just boiling, add the cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened. Add pork and pineapple. Stir. Serve with white rice.
I think I had 3 servings of this salad while waiting for the husband to get home from work. It is good. Try it.
Chinese Chicken Salad (adapted from Joy of Cooking)
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1 can mandarin oranges (11 oz), drained and juice reserved
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
- 1/2 cup peanut oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp Asian chili paste
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp minced ginger
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 4 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 cup chow mein noodles
Marinate chicken strips in soy sauce. Cook in hot oil until browned and no longer pink. Combine chicken, orange pieces, onion, and peanuts in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the reserved juice, lemon juice, chili sauce, soy sauce, ginger, salt and pepper. Pour 2/3 cup of dressing over the chicken mixture. Combine. Serve over cabbage and top with chow mein noodles.
I grew up on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. One of the things I miss most about my homeland is the ethnicity and multiculturalism that abound therein. Downtown Victoria houses a small Chinatown. There are lions guarding the entrance and an ornate red gate. It’s a marvelous sensation when you walk down the normal city streets and turn to enter the vibrant and always crowded Chinatown.
Growing up, we would often head to Don Mee’s Dim Sum (Chinese Brunch) and sit there for hours as tiny dishes stacked on carts made the rounds of the restaurant. While the authentic Chinese meal involved things I would never touch in a million years (especially during my stunt as a vegetarian), it was a special time for my family. You have to wait for the carts to bring you what you want instead of ordering it. You have to wait. Waiting what felt like hours for the delicious honey buns, I learned to equate eating with a much greater purpose. Eating became a chance to spend time with those I love.
Sometimes here, cooking for my husband, who tends to devour his meal in 2 minutes flat, I forget the truths I learned on a small, living street in Chinatown. I forget that cooking and eating are about so much more than food.
While yesterday’s dinner, Szechwan Beef Stir-Fry, really isn’t something they serve at Don Mee’s, it still had an authentic and fresh air about it that superseded any of the Panda Express-like Chinese food that is easy to find in Orem. It took me back to that red and green and yellow street with dragons and small boutiques and street markets. It took me back to a place where food equals family and friends and important moments with them.
Szechwan Beef Stir-Fry (sorry, no pictures… but I assure you it’s both beautiful and delicious)
(adapted from Better Homes and Garden)
- 16 ounces sirloin steak cut into thin strips (cut along the bias for tender pieces)
- 1 large carrot
- 1 bell pepper (I like green)
- 1 can cut baby corn
For the sauce:
- 3 Tbsp orange juice
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 3 Tbsp water
- 2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/8 – 1/4 red pepper flakes
In a large skillet or a wok, heat oil to medium-high heat. Add carrot and cook for 2 minutes. Add pepper and corn. Cook another 1-2 minutes, or until the veggies are tender-crisp. Set aside. Meanwhile, mix all the ingredients for the sauce. Add beef to the skillet. Heat until it is mostly cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the sauce to the middle of the skillet and heat, stirring until the sauce thickens. When the meat is cooked through and the sauce is thick, add the veggies back to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes until all the flavours meld. Serve over steamed rice.