A Sticky Situation

March 25, 2012

One of the new recipes we made recently as part of my New Year’s resolution was potstickers. This recipe isn’t quite as pain-free as many of the recipes we feature here (it’s not complicated, it just has a lot of steps), however, fresh homemade potstickers are vastly superior to the frozen or fast-food varieties that most people have had.

To start out, you make a filling. Your filling can contain whatever you’d like, but it this instance we made a fairly traditional filling. We used a sweet italian sausage (turkey instead of  pork). You can use any kind of ground meat, but you don’t want anything too flavorful that will take over your other filling ingredients. I also added half a diced onion, somewhere between 1 cup and 1 1/2 cups of diced bok choy (about 3 good sized stems), 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice.

Once you have your filling, you have to fill your potstickers. This is the most time consuming part of the process. You start with a wonton wrapper, and about a scant tablespoon of filling. You don’t want to overfill the wrappers, because they won’t seal well.

Then, you have to seal the wonton wrapper. Raw wonton wrappers are similar to pasta, and you seal them with just a bit of water. I just have a small bowl of water and I dip my finger in, and run it along the edges I’ll be sealing.

To do a traditional wonton shape, I’ll be bringing all the corners to the middle and sealing the edges to each other.

 

From this last picture, I would pinch the bottom and get out as much air as possible, and then squeeze down each of the folds to make sure it’s really sealed. If it’s not sealed well it will explode when you boil it, and you’ll have a bunch of waterlogged filling. If you don’t get at least most of the air out they will be inclined to float when you boil them, and it’s harder to get them to cook evenly.

Once you’ve got all of your potstickers filled, it’s time to cook them. The first step in cooking is to boil them a few at a time. Once they’re boiled they’ll stick together, so be sure you have somewhere to set them that has room.

After you boil them, the final step is to pan fry them. If you’re making wontons for soup, you would just add them to the soup instead of boiling them.

The frying makes them a little crispy, and much more delicious. We served them with a dipping sauce made of soy sauce, worcestershire, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, and some thinly chopped scallions. You don’t need to salt with the sauce because it’s already very salty from the soy sauce.

 

 

Fancy Soup

February 28, 2012

My New Year’s Resolution this year was to cook one new recipe every week. I haven’t necessarily posted lots of this here, because, frankly, reading about someone making fish sticks just isn’t that interesting (I didn’t say it had to be a fancy or exciting recipe, just something I’d never made before). However, I did get a little fancier a couple of weeks ago and made french onion soup. Now soup is generally just not that interesting of a food to talk about. You stick some stuff in a pot, usually with some broth, and let it cook for awhile. French onion soup, however, is like a alchemical transformation. Also, it’s something that had never occurred to me to make at home-it just seems like a restaurant thing, with cute oven-proof ceramic soup bowls. To tackle this challenge, I more or less used Alton Brown’s recipe, available on the Food Network website here.

To start with, you need lots of onions. The recipe says 5 onions, but I modified this recipe slightly based on comments from the website. So we had 5 lbs of onions, which was about 6-7, I think. You slice the onions into thin rings, which is the most labor-intensive part of the whole process, and start to brown them in a little butter. 5 lbs of onions is a lot. It looks like this:

This is the first time I thought maybe I had read a number wrong. This looks like a lot of onions. But you just cook them, and cook them, and cook them. And then you get this:

After that you keep cooking the onions down until they’re brown and caramelized. You then add in some wine, broth and some herbs in a bouquet garni. You’ll see that I didn’t actually have whole stems of herbs or cheesecloth for a traditional bouquet garni, so I just stuffed some herbs in a metal tea ball and winged it.

 

While all that is going on, you make some toast. Rachel cut our toast into fancy rounds, but as long as it  fits into your bowl it’s fine.

 

When your soup is done, you put the toasts in the soup, crunchy side down.

 

Top it with cheese (we used gruyere) and stick it under the broiler for a few seconds. It’s important to make sure that your bowls are heat-proof. If not, they can explode when you heat them under the broiler.

 

Delicious!