An Asian repast

April 6, 2011

Don't crowd them this much in the steamer. It's problematic.

It was dumpling week, over on Food 52, and they seem to be concentrating on Asian dumplings. I had been jonesing for fried rice. And it doesn’t take much time to toss together some Japanese pickles. So that was the name of dinner tonight.

While we're thinking Asia, let's send good thoughts -- and some assistance -- to our friends in Japan.

Which I even plated on a cute little sushi plate for the photograph, because I really wasn’t hungry because, trust me, had I been, this would have in no way been enough fried rice for me. As it was, I sampled it to see how it was without the mirin I could not find in my pantry (answer: Not bad. Not as good as with it, but certainly edible, and in fact pretty damn tasty). I ate most of the pickles and both of the dumplings, and called that dinner.

That and a Red Stripe. Because I didn’t have any Tsing Tao or Sapporo or Kirin. Hey, call it fusion dining.

Mark Bittman. Dependable. Good. Buy his book.

I have previously detailed how to make fried rice. (If I could figure out how in the Sam Hill to index recipes, I’d direct you to it, but I can’t, so just search for fried rice and look for the earliest entry.) I didn’t deviate from the Mark Bittman classic recipe, for which I am still grateful to Mark, and if there was not another damn thing in How To Cook Everything that was worth a damn besides this recipe, it’d be worth the cover price just for this. Trust me. Mark rocks. Mark’s cookbook rocks. This and the pizza dough recipe make it worth twice the price. Go to Amazon and order it.

So. Dumplings. I knew I wanted pork in them. I had little round dumpling wrappers (Nasoya, in the produce section of your supermarket; they have egg roll wrappers, too, and I’m never without a package). So I stopped by the grocery and stocked up on assorted stuff tonight, got home at 6, stuck a frozen pizza in the oven for the kid after he turned up his nose at the idea of fried rice, and set to work.

I did my mise for the fried rice and then decided it would probably be best if I made dumplings first. And as I’d had a sizeable breakfast and a sizeable lunch, I was not all that hungry.

I started out with a recipe for Vietnamese caramelized shrimp, figuring that should kick things in the right direction. I sauteed about half an onion, chopped fine; threw in the pork and some of the ginger-garlic paste I bought at the International Market in Nashvegas. I added brown sugar,  fish sauce, simmered that a bit, and tasted; decided it wanted a touch of heat, and added about teaspoon of sriracha. Simmered it until all the water had evaporated, took it off the heat and stirred in about 1/4 cup of chopped chives, drained it on paper towels, and let it sit until it cooled while I made my rice.

Note: It’s important to stir this stuff to break up the lumps; you need almost separate little “granules” the size of a cooked grain of rice or so for best results. Lumps the size of a grain of hominy can present problems in the wrapping process.

Then I commenced to experiment in making dumplings. I finally settled on a method that involved cradling one of the round wraps (about 3 inches across) in one hand while I brushed the edges with beaten egg. I cupped that hand a little, and dolloped about a tablespoon of filling in the middle. Then I started at one end, and pinched the sides of the wrapper together, making a semicircular dumpling crimped around the round edge. If you tilt your hand as you’re working your fingers around the outer edge, gravity will help you distribute the filling.

These got steamed for about 20 minutes, for no particular reason other than I thought that ought to be long enough. Let them cool, and learned I needed to spray the strainer basket with non-stick spray before I steamed the next batch. Then I pan-fried myself about three of them, just enough to crispify the outside.

I call ’em pigstickers. Sorta like potstickers, but different.

They’re pretty good. I went a bit overboard on the fish sauce, so they’re a bit saltier than I’d prefer. I probably used close to two tablespoons of the stuff (I didn’t measure). The recipe below reflects what I think the right proportions would be.

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 cup finely minced onion
  • 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste, or 1 tbsp finely minced garlic and 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon or so of water
  • about 3 dozen 3-inch round dumpling wrappers

It probably took me an hour, all told, to make 3 dozen dumplings. The remaining 33 will go in the freezer, to be taken out and thawed and fried whenever I get ready. I have to take a dish to a party Monday night, so I may take those.

The pickles really set this dish off, and they are unconscionably easy. Thinly slice a bunch of radishes. Quarter a cucumber longways, and slice out the seeds. Cut a bunch of carrots into small chunks. Put ’em in a Gladware tub, add about 1/4 cup rice vinegar and 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar and a sprinkle of powdered ginger. Shake/toss them well, and set them out of your way for an hour. They can be refrigerated for several weeks; your radishes may fade a bit and turn everything else a kind of funky pink, but that’s OK.

Anyway, being I didn’t get done cooking until 8:45, and I still have to put my pork roast in the some rub for tomorrow, I’m going to bid you and y’mama ‘n ’em good night. Tomorrow night is pulled pork tacos and cheese quesadillas. Can I hear an amen?


One Response to “An Asian repast”

  1. Kath the Cook Says:

    amen sister!

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