Feb 2, 2011

Year of the Chicken Wing

Oh wait... that doesn't sound right.

Year of the Pot Sticker?

Hmm, probably not. Though after you try these two recipes you may want to dial up the People's Republic of China and have a serious chat about changing their calendar...

Both of these require some time and effort up front, but please don't let that scare you off - the pay off is incredible depth of flavor that will have everyone asking, "What did you put in these??" But, you know, in a good way.

Dinner for 8

Tsingtao Beer (The #1 Beer in China, easy to find at your local liquor store)
Spicy Pork Pot Stickers
Mahogany Wings
Szechuan Green Beans
Vegetable Fried Rice (Takeout! or even better - have it delivered!)

Jasmine Tea
Almond Cookies
Clementines or Orange Wedges
Fortune Cookies

I wrote a post about throwing a fabulous Chinese New Year Feast two years ago here. It's still full of great ideas but my position on pot stickers has completely reversed... yes, they take some time but they're totally worth it!

But some things haven't changed. I do think the easiest way to add a festive touch is to drop a red tablecloth, put out a bowl of clementines, stockpile sauces & chopsticks from your favorite take out joint, and buy a stash of colorful melamine dipping bowls from a local Asian grocery store or restaurant supply warehouse. Going for extra credit? Pick up some cute take out containers to send your friends home with the tasty leftovers or some custom fortune cookies. Dipped fortune cookies are easy & fun or you can make your own - I've done it & it takes some practice, but it is fun to write your own fortunes!

Spicy Pork Pot Stickers
Makes 60+

What you need:
1 egg
1 pound ground pork
1 large carrot, grated
2 scallions, sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, finely minced or grated
2 TB ginger, peeled & finely minced or grated
2 TB Thai Chilli Paste (see note below)
2 TB soy sauce
2 TB sesame oil
60-70 gyoza wrappers
Vegetable oil

How you make them:
Mix all ingredients except gyoza wrappers and oil in a large bowl and mix well. Make a small (less than a teaspoon) patty of the mixture and fry in a small pan so you can taste it and adjust the seasoning if needed.

To fill the dumplings, put a scant teaspoon of the pork mixture in the center of a gyoza wrapper. Dip a (clean) finger in water and wet the edges of the wrapper. Pull two opposite corners together over the filling and use your fingers to squeeze the edges together, folding & crimping a little until they stick. You'll have to practice a bit to get a shape that you like and don't try to use more filling - you'll end up with a big mess.

Place the pot stickers on a sheet pan or store them in a large airtight container in the fridge until you're ready to cook them. You can also freeze them at this point & cook them later, right out of the freezer.

When you're ready to eat, heat 2 TB of vegetable oil over medium heat in the widest, flat-bottom pan you have that has a lid. Place pot stickers close together, but not touching, in the pan - you can crowd as many as you can fit in there. Let the dumpling saute until they're golden brown on the bottom, add half a cup of water and get the lid on as fast as you can so the steam doesn't escape. Lower the heat a bit and steam until the wrappers are almost translucent and the filling is cooked, 2-3 minutes. remove the lid and continue to cook until all the water has evaporated.

Serve the hot pot stickers with any dipping sauce you like - I'm partial to sweet chili sauce or ponzu sauce mixed with grated ginger & scallions. If you like a little more heat try soy sauce mixed with Sriracha... yum. And 60 probably sounds like alot but trust me, your friends will eat every last one - you can never have too many of these.

Thai Chilli (Chile) Paste:
Also known as nam prik pow has a sweet and sour flavor. Typical ingredients include Pure Cane Sugar, Garlic, Onion, Anchovy, Soybean Oil, Dried Shrimp, Chili, Tamarind, Peanuts, Parsley, and Fennel. There are some widely available ones from brands like Thai Kitchen that you can likely find in your local grocery store. The one I use is from an Asian market but I don't think there's anything particularly special about it - you're just looking for that mix of Tamarind, chili and anchovy or dried shrimp that adds depth and complexity to your filling.

Mahogany Wings
Makes 4 dozen+

What you need:
1.5 cups soy sauce
.75 cup dry sherry
9 oz. Hoisin Sauce (one bottle)
.75 cup plum sauce
18 scallions, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
.75 cup cider vinegar
.5 cup honey
4-5 dozen chicken wings and drumettes
vegetable oil

How you make them:
Combine all ingredient except wings and oil in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Cool completely before using. The sauce can be made several weeks ahead and stored in the fridge.

Put wings in a large storage container or a few gallon-size ziploc bags. Add the cooled sauce and refrigerate overnight, turning once or twice.

Place oven racks in upper & lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Drain wings, reserving sauce, and place them in a single layer on two oiled sheet pans. Greasing the pans is incredibly important because things are about to get sticky...

Pour reserved sauce back into a small pot and boil rapidly for 5 minutes until it's reduced by a bit. Bake wings uncovered for 90 minutes, turning every 20 mins and basting with more sauce. Switch the pans from high to low halfway through so everything gets even heat exposure. Serve warm or at room temp and toss a handful of sliced scallions and sesame seeds over the top of the wing pile - just to make it pretty. Serve with lots of paper towels and stand back.

Szechuan Green Beans
Serves 8 as a side dish

What you need:
1 TB vegetable oil
1 pound green beans, trimmed
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
.25 cup hoisin sauce
2 TB soy sauce
1 TB sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tea ginger, peeled and minced
1 tea sugar
1 tea red chili flakes or Sriracha

How you make them:
Heat oil in a large pan over high heat. Add beans and onion and cook, stirring occasionally until the beans are crisp-tender and blackened in spots, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add the sauce to the pan and stir until the beans are evenly coated. Serve hot.

So there you have it & it's alot of prep work... but I promise, you'll be glad you tackled it. If you're making a few of the recipes, look over the ingredient lists before you start and combine any prep work you can. For example, there's alot of minced garlic here, do it all at once and you'll save some time. And, now that I think about it, the wings & pot stickers would be great for any sports-related viewing parties you have coming up... isn't there some big football game this weekend? :)

p.s. - Since I've been gone from this space for so long I'm probably putting this out into a vast black hole at this point... but for those of you still out there - I missed you. And thanks for reading.


James said...

And she's back!!!

Lindsey said...

We missed you too!