Archive for June, 2011

How to Boil Water (a.k.a. Pan Fry Dumplings)


Dinner is served!

To an Asian American, frying dumplings is equivalent to boiling water. As the Food Network’s How to Boil Water show attempts to bring in simple cooking for the novice “chef”, they don’t debut the simplest staple for the Asian American kid when you try to search with “dumpling” or “pot sticker” or “potsticker”. Now I’m not saying you have to know how to make the dumpling filling and fold the dumplings all Din Tai Fung style, but at least the art of frying dumplings should be mastered right? Well, this blog is a tribute to my cousin Amyty who’s been requesting the method from me so she can finally achieve success with making pretty much the only thing that stocks her fridge…and is pretty much the most substantial food item in her entire house next to the one can of soup in the pantry…frozen dumplings!

So if you have frozen dumplings in the fridge (be it homemade, weichuan, tung-i, random korean versions, etc.):

  1. Turn on the stove on to about medium heat with a good non-stick pan. (Starting with a badly coated pan will just negatetheentire procedure and leave you with a mess of dumpling skin shreds and meat balls in the end).
  2. Get a non-stick pan and add some oil to to pan enough to give the whole pan a nice coating of oil (pick up the pan and swirl it to spread the oil).
  3. Start putting the dumplings in the pan as quick as you can -dip into pool of oil,

    Step 3. Pan arrangement.

    slide to outer edges of pan and arrange them until the entire pan is plenty-filled with space between all the dumplings (if you do this before the oil gets too hot, you won’t get as much hot oil splatter all over you from the ice that’s probably on your frozen dumplings).

  4. Let the dumplings fry up a little so it’s slightly browned on bottom.
  5. For raw dumplings, add some cold water into the pan at this point so the water level comes up to about 1/2 the dumpling height and cover with the lid (you can turn up the heat a little here). For variation, you can use a 1/2 rice vinegar and 1/2 water mixture here…it helps give it a gooey crisp and flavoring to the dumplings so you don’t need as much dipping sauce laterand cut down on some sodium intake(but this makes things vinegary aromatic in the house for a while).
  6. After about 20 minutes, take off the lid and turn the heat down a little to medium.

    Step 6. Cook on medium.

    There should be some water still left and it should start kind of bubbling and the dumplings should start crisping.

  7. Let the bottom of the dumplings crisp up to a nice golden brown and you can flip the dumplings on it’s 2 other sides to crisp to more golden brown (if you’re a fan of all over crisp…it’s the perfect opportunity to perfect chopstick skills by turning all the dumplings here without breaking the skin or you’ll lose all the juices to the pan).
  8. Once they’re all nicely browned, pick up the pan and gently swirl all the dumplings in it to pick up all the remnant crisp factors stuck on the bottom of the pan (and it makes for cleaning the pan much easier).
  9. Plate your dumplings, make your dipping sauce and chow down!

Ok Ames…there you go. Keep practicing until you perfect your dumpling frying skills (at which point they’re no longer called dumplings but potstickers) for the next time I visit and we can blanch some gai lan and round out the dinner menu with some greens. :)


I’m Popeye the Sailor Man…

I’m Popeye the Sailor Man,
I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.
I’m strong to the finich
Cause I eats me spinach.
I’m Popeye the Sailor Man.

Sing it! Ok. That was a fun flashback to my childhood. Anyway, having traveled more than my norm lately, it’s been interesting getting “grounded” again. The loads of laundry, ironing, relearning what’s in my closet, trying to remember where I last left things, and scrounging around the pantry and fridge for any remnants of edible substances until I can get myself to the market for groceries…. Well, I finally made it to the neighborhood market tonight and was inspired to buy a massive bunch of spinach. It was green, leafy, and just what I needed to add some healthiness back into the diet. But when I got home…I just had no idea what to do with the fresh spinach! Well, good thing Mama Su always comes to the rescue!

For tonight’s quick and painless meal (no more take-out)…featuring spinach with some potstickers on the side! For a healthy way of making spinach, just boil water, add salt, a little splash of oil and give the spinach a quick boil in batches. Done! Fast..healthy…good enough. The only thing about spinach is I don’t like is that weird grainy feeling it leaves on your teeth. Anyone know what that’s all about?