Lesson 70: Dumplings

Saturday, March 6, 2010

FINALLY the weather is getting nice! I celebrated the blue skies and warm(er) temps this morning by heading to the beach. It was perfect running weather so I went for a nice run along the jersey shore.

Anyways, back to yesterday's class! The class was focused on making different types of dumplings, potstickers, spring rolls, etc. It reminded me of a memory I have of when I was little. I was an EXTREMELY picky eater as a child and only ate the steamed pork dumplings when my family got Chinese take-out. I'll never forget one night back when I was living in Marlboro my mom forgot to order my dumplings. I had a huge fit! I think the only foods I ate back then were dumplings, pasta, mozzarella sticks, and chicken fingers. Yea, I was that kid. It's so weird how my palate has completely changed over the years and now I am the least picky person and would probably try anything.

Yesterday's class went a little bit differently than every other day. Each person prepped a different recipe like usual, but we all assembled the dumplings/rolls together.

I prepped the filling for the Chinese Pork Potstickers. My brother and I used have these all the time as an after-school snack or weekend treat (the frozen ones from Costco that you heat up in a frying pan). Potstickers are so versatile and really easy to make. The filling I made started out with Napa Cabbage that I salt-wilted (sprinkled salt over the chiffonade cabbage and weighed it down in a colander. Squeezed out the liquid and repeated the process until it was wilted). I added the cabbage to a mixture of ground pork, scallions, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, chinese rice wine, and sugar. We filled the wonton wrappers and pleated the top. After they were all assembled, we seared the bottoms of the potstickers in a large saute pan with canola oil. Then we added some chicken stock (and used a pot lid as a shield since huge flames and smoke shot up) and let the potstickers steam until they were done:

The dipping sauce I made just contained soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, pickled sushi ginger, and sesame oil.

Next, Chef showed us how to made Summer Rolls. These rolls are not cooked after they are assembled, so all of the fillings have to be cooked. You can add anything you want to summer rolls (they traditional contain vegetables and/or lean meats/seafood). Ours had lettuce, boiled shrimp halves, cilantro, mint, and scallions. We dipped them in a peanut-dipping sauce.

Doesn't it kind of look like a cell phone?

Next, we assembled and steamed the Shrimp Shao Mai. This was a pureed shrimp mixture that we stuffed inside thin, delicate dumpling wrappers. We steamed them on a layer of cabbage:

(Notice the one odd dumpling in the left lower corner... Nora made a vegetarian dumpling that she split with me--it was delicious!)

We plated these dumplings with a Cilantro-Chile Dipping Sauce:

The last roll we made was a Spring Roll. We had the choice of making this spring roll with ground pork or vegetarian (with extra mushrooms). My group made a vegetarian version that was amazing. Everybody agreed that you don't miss the meat at all in these rolls. We deep-fried them and served them with another dipping sauce:

The last dish of the day was the Mu Shu Chicken with Peking Pancakes. These pancakes reminded me of the breads we made on Wednesday, since they were pretty simple and just had that extra sesame oil flavor. The Mu Shu Chicken was a simple chicken-vegetable stir-fry. To assemble the pancakes, you spread a little hoisin sauce on the cake and spoon the chicken on top. You are supposed to roll it up and eat it like an enchilada!


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