Thursday, May 15, 2008

If Not For The Spirit Of The Gyoza...

gyoza. little pockets of steamed and fried (or fried then steamed, to be completely technical about it) yum courtesy of the japanese. they really are nice, compact tidbits of morsels meant to tempt the tastebuds and just get you in the mood for hot sake and more good food. this is definitely a communal kind of food, dim sum in nature but with the delicacy of japanese food. which, quite frankly, can be something of a myth because i've made some of the heartiest shit out of my LET'S COOK JAPANESE! cookbook than i ever have out of my chinese ones. like (SOOOOOO good) SUMO WRESTLER'S STEW, which i will regale you with another time and deep fried, panko encrusted burgers. yes, i just wrote deep fried hamburgers and it's japanese street food. REALLY, REALLY GOOD! when you come over, we can have some...

but back to the gyoza. i have, as you know, been on this cooking jag. can't seem to stop. that's cool. so, tonight, while nicholas was out with adam (his tres cool big bro) and brandon was just hangin', watching this show called FUNNY PEOPLE AND PETS (or some shit like that -- it's a canned laughter, voiceovered version of AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS which, to me, never needed cheeseball host BOB SAGET or any human for that matter. they could have put a pig on a stool to host that show and it would've worked just fine... in my opinion) waiting for leftover chinese spareribs to finish heating up, i made some gyoza just to have around. i made enough to feed us for quite awhile and i even froze some of the uncooked ones for us to make at another time. i've gotten big on making something, freezing it for later so that when i get home i don't have to take so long to get dinner on the table and the kids can eat before a certain time. i mean, i was trying to be REALLY good about having them eat before 7pm and i did very well for awhile there, but, ya know, life got in the way, i got in the way, my inability to keep organized got in the way and, before you knew it, they were eating at 7:30ish,8, in there. we don't live in spain, there is no siesta, so i'm trying to keep us off of the overweight and flabby list as best i can (which, if you were to see my upper arms, you'd laugh at me and say, "yeah, good luck with that, she of the swinging triceps.") and, so, out came my book, the ingredients for this yummy dish that is, interestingly enough, really easy to make.

okay, now, i just said this is really easy to make and i need to qualify that, because i have friends who will say to me when i speak like that, "let's be clear here, is this recipe LINDA easy or EVERYBODY easy?" since i don't see myself as some sort of culinary genius and just as interested in a good, easily understood and easy to create recipe as my sons would be, when i say easy i figure that's the "general you" easy not the "chef me" easy. however, i have been told that when i say easy, i mean the "chef me" easy, so you'll have to judge for yourself and let me know what you think i mean when i say easy.
can you tell i'm a little edgy tonight?
i really need a vacation.
but, back to food:

GYOZA (panfried dumplings)
1/2 pound napa or green head cabbage, shredded then finely chopped and squeezed between paper towels to remove all moisture
3/4 pound ground pork
2 green onions, including tender green tops, minced
3 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps minced
1/2 bunch fresh chives, minced
1 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs sake
1 tsp soy sauce
About 50 round gyoza or other Asian dumpling wrappers, each about 3" in diameter (thinnest you can find)
1 tbs canola or other neutral oil and 1 tbs sesame oil for cooking each batch
2 tbs water for cooking each batch

dipping sauce:
soy sauce
rice vinegar
hot chili oil

what to do:
1. make the filling -- put the cabbage, pork, green onions, mushrooms, chives, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, sake, and soy sauce into a big bowl. using your hands, mix it together thoroughly, until just combined, but don't handle the filling too much.
2. place the stack of wrappers on a work surface and keep them covered with a clean, damp kitchen towel or paper towel to prevent them from drying out. holding a wrapper on the palm of one hand, place about 1 tsp of filling in the center of the wrapper. with a fingertip, swipe one-half of the edge of the wrapper with a little water, then fold over the other edge to meet the dampened edge then enclose the filling and pinch the seal securely. with your finers, make 3 or 4 evenly spaced pleats along the sealed edge and place the dumpling, flat side down (the side opposite the pleats) on a sheet of waxed paper. Repeat until all the filling has been used. You can freeze the filled dumplings at this point, just place them on a rimmed baking sheet, put them in the freezer and once they're frozen you can put them into a zippered plastic bag and they'll last for 1 month. you can cook them directly from the reezer, allowing just a few minutes longer cooking time when the pan is covered.
3. to cook the dumplings, heat a frying pan over high heat and when the pan is hot, add the oils, swirl to coat the bottom of the pan and allow them to heat. when a drop of water flicked into the pan sizzles instantly, arrange about 12 dumplings in teh pan, lining them up neatly and placing them flat side down and pleated edge up. cook undisturbed until the bottoms are lightly browned, about 3 minutes. add the water, then immediately cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium-high, and cook for 5 minutes. uncover and cook for a few minutes longer until all the water has evaporated and the dumplings are dark brown and a little crusty on the bottom.
4. to serve, slide a spatula under the dumplings, being careful not to tear the wrappers, and flip them browned-side up onto a large plate or platter, still lined up.
5. for the dipping sauce, set out containers of the soy sauce, vinegar, and hot chili oil. provide each diner with a small dipping bowl to assemble a dip to taste.

what we did:
we didn't have the chives, so i used some great bean sprouts i picked up at an asian market near me. i cooked about 24 of the dumplings and froze the rest of them. besides the chives, we kept everything the same. nicholas got home, tasted one, wanted another then asked for them for tomorrow's lunch. brandon helped me fill them and wants to try them for dinner tomorrow, which blew my mind. this kid will broaden his food horizons yet.

and so these little bits of enjoyment were created for us. i tasted one and it had this crunchy tender savory taste to it that was subtle and wonderful. simple. i know the "what to do" looks complicated, but it's really not. and i do believe i'm saying that from the "general you" standpoint, not the "chef linda" view. but, ya know, maybe i'm completely deluded and a total bonehead. or, maybe just maybe, i believe there's a chef in all of us, if we just give it a chance.
am i really that polyanna?
fuck if i know.

No comments: