Jan 30, 2014

Happy Happy Lunar New Year in 2014

Wow, a bright and shiny new year is upon us. If you are anything like me, you are happy to say goodbye to the last one and say hello to a fresh start. I hope you are well and galloping swiftly toward your fondest dreams in the year of the horse.

In honor of the new lunar year below, is my recipe for pork and shrimp potstickers. They are really not too difficult. I would say moderate effort will work. The homemade dough is easy, easier than pie, as most things are. And the filling, well that is not too hard either. If it seems taxing, you can put it off and make them in stages over a few days. Give it a try, fresh, homemade dumplings are one of the best things in the universe, they freeze well, can be steamed or fried, and are especially delicious made to your own specs.

Pork and Shrimp Potstickers
makes 32 dumplings

2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup luke warm water

1 pound napa cabbage
1 cup chopped chinese chives (available in asian grocery stores)
1.5 teaspoons salt
4 large shrimp, raw, peeled, deveined, lightly chopped
1/2 pound ground pork
(or pork loin or tenderloin cut into chunks and processed in a food processor with a little olive or sesame oil to make up for the lack of pork fat in these lean cuts)
1 T dry sherry
1.5 Tablespoons soy sauce
olive oil and or rice bran oil

Tangy Citrus Soy Dipping Sauce
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1. Mix the flour and water together in a medium mixing bowl with a dough whisk or wooden spoon. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead lightly on a lightly floured board for a couple of minutes until the dough becomes smoother and more elastic, add a few drops of water if too dry (as mine was this winter) or a little xtra flour if too sticky (as mine was last summer). Form the dough into a smooth ball, it should bounce back if you poke it, and place back in the mixing bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rest for 1 hour.

2. Slice the napa cabbage and then chop fine. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt over the cabbage and allow to rest in a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Allow to rest for 30 minutes and then squeeze out the water, you will be able to remove a lot of water, maybe a cup. Discard the cabbage water.

3. Place the cabbage, the chopped shrimp, the ground pork, the sherry the soy sauce and a tablespoon of oil in a large mixing bowl and mix well with the spoon, dough whisk, or your hand. Cover and set aside while  you roll out the dough.

4. Divide the well-rested dough in two and roll between your hands, making 2 even ropes 16 inches long, use a ruler for best results. Cut the dough ropes into 1 inch pieces and roll the 32 pieces into balls. Cover with the damp towel to keep moist, this is important. With a rolling pin, roll each piece into a 3 inch circle. Dust the circles with a little flour and stack. Keep the stacks covered with the damp towel.

5. Place a circle in the palm of your left hand and place a heaping teaspoon of the mixed filling in an oblong shape in the center of the dough circle. Fold the dough over and seal the edges, making half circle shapes. Pinch the seams together and place four small folds in each dumpling as above in the photos. Keep the finished dumplings under the cloth to keep them from drying out.

6. The dumplings can be boiled or fried at this point. To boil fill a medium stock pot half full and bring to boil on high heat. Slip up to 8 dumplings into the water, one at a time, and gently. Make sure they don't stick together or to the bottom of the pot. Allow the water to come back to a boil and then add 1 cup of cold water. Bring to a boil again and add another cup cold water. Bring to boil one last time, at that point the dumplings are ready to eat. To fry, heat a 9 inch nonstick pan over medium high heat. Add 1Tablespoon rice bran oil, add dumplings, again about 8, make sure they do not touch. Saute for a minute. Then add 1/2 cup cold water and cover. Cook for another 5 or 6 minutes until the water has evaporated. At this point  you will want to shake them in the pan, lower the heat and cook for another 2 minutes until they are nicely browned, but not blackened.

6. Measure out the dipping sauce ingredients into a small bowl.

7. Serve the dumplings immediately with the dipping sauce.

Enjoy. I wish you and your family a prosperous new year with good fortune and good health. And remember, sometimes a little extra effort pays off handsomely. So grab some friends or family members and have them help you roll out these little nuggets of deliciousness.