Hello All! For those of you not so sweet on Valentine's Day, there's good news: It falls on Chinese New Year! Rwawr! It's the year of the tiger. It's going to be a good year, I'm a tiger. We tigers are brave, loyal, fierce, intelligent, charismatic, good looking, and apparently very humble...or so the Chinese zodiac says. I've been getting my Asian groove on for a few weeks now. It started with The Bag Lady's Szechuan Veggie Stir fry.
It's a sweet on impact, blend of crisp veggies, with an Asian chili after-burn. The rice neutralizes the chili nicely. Besides, I like eating food that makes my lips tingle.
I contributed with some delectable Vietnamese Spring Rolls.
The Vietnamese version is different from some of it's Asian cousins. Rather than being fried, it's wrapped in a soft rice wrapper. They can be a little sticky to work with, but they have a fun texture to eat, and are healthier than their fried friends. The only down side is that the left overs don't keep well. What a shame. ;)
My celebrations didn't stop there. My best friend makes the world's best egg rolls, hands down, no contest. So of course, we had to have an eggroll and steamed dumpling party. We've experimented over the years with baking our eggrolls. There was a short stint one semester when we were making them almost weekly and needed a "healthy alternative." We tried phyllo dough. That was a messy disaster, the details of which I do not care to repeat. We tried regular wrappers baked in various ways-brushed with egg, sprayed with Pam, plain, etc. After much scientific testing we've come to the conclusion: Eggrolls must be FRIED! You just don't mess with perfection
So, what does one have as a "healthy dish?" Steamed dumplings of course. Today I am of the opinion that along with a set of quality knives, every kitchen should have 2 things: a garlic press, and a bamboo steamer. If you've tried steaming dumplings before, you'll have noticed the ever constant problem of "stickage." "Stickage" is the technical term for when your beautiful, heavenly, perfect dumplings stick to the steamer and forcefully have their fillings ripped out of their wrappers when you try to remove them. It's a tragedy. Oiling your steamer yields a slight improvement, but it's not the ultimate remedy. We have found the answer. It's amazing how simple it is. If you remember nothing from this post, remember this: Line your steamer with lettuce leaves (napa cabbage works well too as long as you don't use the thick heavy bottom portion of the leaf). The lettuce is delicate enough to let the steam through, turns slick to release your dumplings, and doesn't flavor the food it's resting on! EUREKA!
In my dumplings I like:
Asian Seasoning Sauce or soy sauce
Finely chop the veggies and mix with the ground pork. I add soy sauce and sesame oil until it smells good. Mix it up and fold your dumplings, sealing the edges with water. Steam for about 8 minutes in bamboo steamer.
You can also use
Spicy pork sausage (Jimmy Dean works well)
This way you don't have to mess with seasoning and you get a zippy dumpling.
Chicken must be cooked before you use it.
If you're vegetarian, any veggie mix would work well.
Or anything else!
The combinations are endless! Forget Valentine's Day! Celebrate Chinese New Year! Grrrrrr! It's the YEAR OF THE TIGER!! (sing to "Eye of the Tiger tune)