The nectar of the gods. There is much debate as to what this substance consists of. But, my friends, look no further because I have discovered its true identity. It seems like such a humble fruit, grown on short, little bushes. Rather inside out, as its seeds dot the exterior. Modest little green tufts of leaves poke out from the top of its juicy plumpness. Don't let it deceive you by its size; the smallest of these can pack a mighty punch of sweetness.
I can never get enough of these ruby beauties. I'm lucky I don't have crimson-colored skin during the summer considering the number I consume.
Just the fruit itself isn't enough for me. I turn the appearance of other foods into its likeness just so I can trick myself into thinking I'm eating them ALL the time! :-)
Oh yes. I can't forget.
The Strawberry Mambo.
Simply feasting my eyes on a single one causes me to go into a dancing trance of epic proportions. I fall completely under their power.
The Daring Kitchen has added a new forum for Daring Cooks. I missed the first challenge last month, but couldn't pass up the exciting June challenge hosted by Jen from use real butter. She taught us the ins and outs of dumpling cooking -- how to make the wrappers by hand, the creation of a perfect filling, and the various techniques used for cooking the dumplings.
Ryan and I created these on the occasion of his dad's birthday. His dad is a huge fan of Chinese food, especially potstickers. This made it a bit intimidating for me as I have no experience with Asian food recipes, but his family makes them on a regular basis. Luckily, I had him beside me the whole time for aid and consultation. :-)
All in all, making the potstickers required a fairly simple process. The true difficulty lies in chopping up all the filling ingredients into the tiniest pieces possible. Fortunately, Ryan worked as my sous-chef throughout, mincing and dicing his way through countless pieces of onions, ginger, mushrooms, cabbage, and bamboo shoots. He possesses a lot more patience for this than I do!
I purchased dried shittakes and rehydrated them in a bowl of water. They are probably the smelliest ingredient I've ever worked with...reminded me of a horribly dirty locker room filled with rancid socks. I grabbed the wrong cabbage at first when I was shopping, but, fortunately, the clerk alerted me to my mistake and I left with the right one. The napa cabbage has longer leaves than the regular red and green cabbage. Good to know. The bamboo shoots weren't too difficult to find, as I was pleasantly surprised to discover.... Well, actually, I spent about 10 minutes wandering around the produce searching them out, until I asked a clerk where to find them. He pointed me to the Asian food aisle, where I found them in a can.
While Ryan was chopping, I brought together the dough for the wrappers, using just flour and warm water. Couldn't say I was lacking the ingredients for these! ;-) They rolled out fairly easily. The real difficulty was keeping them from sticking together before they were filled.
My wonderful sous-chef swiftly filled and wrapped with his nimble fingers all the dumplings, pinching them together at the end to create a perfectly dimpled border.
After great consultation between the two of us, we decided to go the steaming route, save a dozen to be pan-fried. I boiled a large pot of water and placed a colander inside of it. After lining the bottom of the colander with a few, leftover cabbage leaves, I steamed about 6 potstickers at a time for roughly 6 minutes. I could tell they were done when the wrappers started to get a little darker. It is important when you steam potstickers that they not touch in the pot because they tend to get a bit sticky as they cook and won't pull apart. Yes, I tell you this from experience...
With the pan-fried potstickers, I heated about 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan, and let them fry over high heat for 2-3 minutes, until golden on the bottom. Then, as instructed, I added half a cup of water to the pan, reduced the heat to medium, covered the pan, and let them boil until the water was evaporated. We all thought it rather strange to fry and then boil second, but it worked like a charm.
I enjoyed this challenge immensely, and definitely plan on trying it again, although perhaps with a different filling next time. I have to say, though, my favorite part of this recipe was the perfect occasion it makes for spending time with the one you love in the kitchen creating something delicious! :-) It's an ideal recipe-for-two!