Chinese Banquet Menu

2 July 2007

Sushi Restaurant Salad
low-calorie ginger dressing

No-Fail Potstickers
tangy garlic dipping sauce

Veggie Straw
julienned runner beans, zucchini, carrots & scallions

Recipe: Sushi Restaurant Salad
This is a low calorie version of the oft-imitated salad dressing that I used to enjoy at my favorite sushi restaurants in New York City.

For one head of mild, crispy lettuce (bibb, green leaf, iceberg are all fine. Bitter greens might be too strong):

  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 C rice vinegar
  • thumb-size chunk of ginger, peeled (vary according to liking of ginger and size of thumbs)
  • 1 T ketchup
  • 1 T teriyaki or soy sauce
  • 1 T sugar or fake sugar
  • 2 small cloves garlic

Puree in a small food processor or chop very fine and shake well. Thin with a little water, if necessary. Adjust sugar/vinegar ratio, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe: No-Fail Potstickers
My no-longer-very-secret recipe for super-easy and impressive potstickers. They take some time, but you can make them in advance (watching TV at the same time, once your fingers get good at it), and then freeze them the way you would berries: separated, on a floured baking sheet. Once frozen, gently bag, and keep up to a month or so. Cook straight from frozen, as described below. Super delicious!

  • about 25 round dumpling or gyoza wrappers, thawed, if frozen (you can make these with square wonton wrappers, but you’ll be in a world of hurt. Don’t say I didn’t warn you)
  • 250 g or 1/2 pound ground chicken and/or pork (It’s best to grind your own! For this recipe it’s no problem to do this in afood processor. It takes 2 minutes and you know exactly what’s being ground in there. Fattier cuts will give you a nice juicy dumpling so don’t get rid of all the fat unless you are really dieting hard, like for a wedding or something)
  • 1/4 small head of white cabbage (Napa or Chinese Leaf best) plus 2 small carrots, shredded OR 100 g (1/4 pound) ‘cole slaw’ mix (for example)
  • 2 scallions
  • 1/2″ cube of ginger (optional)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 T oyster sauce
  • 1 t sesame oil (optional)

Using a food processor, pulse the meat until it is coarsely ground (not paste!). Empty meat into a large, non-metallic bowl, and use the processor (without cleaning) to finely chop the scallions, garlic and ginger (if using). Add that to the meat. The cabbage and carrots or cole slaw mix should be processed JUST until all pieces are less than 1/2 inch long and added to meat mixture. You really don’t want the bits to be too fine here. Add the oyster sauce and the sesame oil (if using). Salt and pepper generously. Now, take of all of your rings and mix the meat gently with your hands. If you squish it too much you’ll have tough dumplings. If you have an aversion to touching meat with your hands, probably skip this recipe. Check the seasonings by frying about a teaspon of mixture.

When you have a tasty dumpling mix, wash your hands well and assemble the following:

  • wrappers, with the packet opened but covered by a damp tea towel
  • the meat mix, with a teaspoon handy
  • a small bowl of room temperature water
  • a flat metal thing (eg., a cookie sheet or baking tray), thoroughly sprinkled with cornstarch (preferred) or flour (if necessary) or cornmeal (if you’re really in a bind). If you’re planning on freezing, make sure this thing will fit in your freezer.
  • a small bit of cornstarched/floured/cornmealed work surface. You can make these in your hand, but it takes some practice

Now this will sound complicated, but it’s really easy. Remove one wrapper from the packet and replace the towel. Place wrapper on prepared work-surface. Using your fingers, rub a little water on the edge of 1 half of the dumpling wrapper. You want it to be damp, but not dripping or the wrapper will be impossible to work with. Place 1 rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper over so that the dry edge meets the wet edge. Press gently but firmly together. Pick the dumpling up gently, and ‘pleat’ the pressed-together edge: starting from the center, make 3 pleats pointing back towards the center on each side, so that the dumbling has a little rim of crimps. Holding it by the crimped edge, pat it down on the baking sheet. This will give the dumpling a little flat bottom with the crimp pointing upwards. This isn’t the most traditional method, and it gives a smaller crunchy surface, but also means your dumplings are more likely to be come out of the pan in one piece. Repeat until all wrappers are used up.

To cook, use a non-stick or cast-iron pan with a tight lid. If you don’t have a good lid, don’t despair, but you need to cover the pan with something. Lightly oil or spray with cooking spray. Carefully place fresh or frozen dumplings in pan, bottom side down, without crowding them or letting them touch. Heat pan over medium high heat until hot enough to sizzle a drop of water on contact. Standing back from the pan, pour about 1/8″ of an inch of water or stock into the pan (about 1/3 C in a 10″ pan) and cover immediately. Watch the steam escaping from under the lid, and when it starts to dissapate (about 2 minutes), check the water level. When the water has been all boiled away, repeat the water adding procedure. Repeat a 3rd time for frozen dumplings. After the water has boiled away for the final time, remove the lid and allow the dumplings another minute of bottom-crisping. Carefully remove the pan from heat, and allow dumplings to stand for 2-3 minutes (this helps with the removal procedure). Using a spatula, carefully lift the dumplings out of the pan. Serve immediately!

To make dumplings for a crowd, allow about 6 dumplings per person (they’re pretty addictive). Although they don’t hold that well once cooked (they get a little sticky), you can hold 1 batch long enough to make the second batch if you keep them on a covered, warmed plate. Don’t forget to spray the plate with non-stick spray. Alternatively, you could portion a little warmed dipping sauce into warm shallow bowls (one per guest), and then hold the dumplings in the sauce, in a warm oven.

Recipe: Tangy Dipping Sauce
For 1/4 C dipping sauce (enough for 6-10 dumplings, depending on the aggressiveness of your dipping):

  • 1 clove garlic, curshed
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 1 T sugar or fake sugar

Mix. For best results, let stand about 10 minutes before serving (make it while your dumplings are cooking!)
Possible additions: 1 thinly sliced scallion, 1 t hot chili oil, 1 t grated ginger, and/or 2 t sesame oil

Robin, who very kindly commented on one of my first posts, is running a Blog or Bust healthy party food recipe challenge. Although these dishes don’t exactly qualify as grill food, they make a light and fun dinner party menu. Enjoy!


One comment

  1. […] of The Hungry Phase created a low-calorie Sushi Restaurant Salad, No-Fail Potstickers, and a Tangy Dipping Sauce to go […]

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