Gyoza - Dim Sum dumplings

>> Thursday, May 31, 2012

Gyoza - Dim Sum dumplings

We were looking for an interesting way to use up leftover pork roast, the last of some Napa cabbage, and half a can of water chestnuts. When we passed a display of dumpling wrappers in the store, Joe and I started drooling like Pavlov's dogs.

These dumplings are not hard to make, but it does help to dust your assembly board with a little cornstarch to keep them from sticking to the board.


For the filling

1 1/2 cups cooked minced pork, or 1/2 pound raw ground pork
2 tbsp. raw ginger, grated
2 cups Napa or Chinese cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chives or green onions, chopped
1/2 cup carrots, grated
1/2 cup water chestnuts, finely chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 package of small round dumpling wrappers
Salt and pepper
2 tbsp cooking oil

For the dipping sauce

2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp honey


To start, the cabbage and carrots must be treated so that the excess water is removed - otherwise, the dumplings will be soggy and pasty. Put the cabbage and carrots into a bowl and sprinkle them with salt. Add water to cover, and let sit for 10 minutes.

If using ground pork, crumble it into a pan and brown it completely. Drain off the fat and set it in a large mixing bowl.

Drain the carrot/cabbage mixture and squeeze dry. Add this to the pork. Stir in the rest of the filling ingredients and mix well.

Prepare a small bowl of lukewarm water. Set one wrapper onto a clean cutting board or surface. Dip your fingers into the water and then wipe the water onto the wrapper, dampening the entire side. Place 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of the filling in the middle of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half and pinch the ends together in the middle. Dip your fingers into the water and pinch the opening closed so that the edges stick together. Use a fork to press dents around the edge so the wrappers stay closed.

Heat a non-stick frying pan and pour in the oil. Put the finished dumplings, seam side up, into the pan. Add 1 cup of warm water and put a lid on the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, adding more water if the pan dries out completely. Remove from heat and serve when the dumplings are golden brown on the bottom.

 Stir together the dipping sauce ingredients and serve it in individual bowls.

When we made this recipe, we made enough dumplings for two or more meals. We put half of them onto a greased cookie sheet and froze them for several hours, then put them in a freezer bag to eat later.

Makes approximately 30 dumplings.


Porkchop restaurant, Chicago

>> Monday, May 7, 2012

Porkchop restaurant, Chicago

After my graduation from the University of Illinois at Chicago, my family went for brunch at an intimate and fun restaurant nearby, Porkchop. The place serves American comfort food with a modern twist. There are also plenty of the dishes that are current trends, like sweet potato fries and mac'n'cheese.

I have been intrigued by the sudden popularity of fried chicken and waffles, and since Joe has yet to take me to a Waffle House, I seized my chance to try this southern phenomenon. I rececived two large crispy and spicy chicken breasts on thick waffles with ancho maple syrup, and it was fantastic. I barely had room enough to eat one breast, though there was a lot of sharing around the table and a couple of bottles of champagne in constant demand.

My daughter Jessie chose the mac'n'cheese, which was creamy and filling, though the portion was smaller. The Damn Good Baby Back ribs were in fact damn good. Joe had the brunch pulled pork sandwich that was topped with chipotle bbq sauce, a fried egg, grilled tomato, and a side of roasted potatoes, red onions, and green peppers. My sister-in-law had the quirky but delicious cornmeal pancakes. I'd have to say, though, that nothing surpassed the dessert we all shared: a homemade bacon glazed donut. Heavenly.

Next time I visit, I'll be sure to order the appetizer called "Trio of Sausage Lollipops", a concept that can't help but be incredible. Apparently, it comes with a creole remoulade dipping sauce. Just for you, I looked up "remoulade" (okay, I didn't know what it was). It sounds like this is either a creole type tartar or shrimp cocktail sauce. I'm sure it's fantastic.

Appropriately close to the old Chicago stockyards and meat processing plants, Porkchop has a hardworking Chicago rustic feel to it. Between two sections of the dining room, there is a somewhat disturbing display of saws that might one day have been used for hog butchering and city building. I was relieved to see that these hanging saws were attached to the floor and ceiling so that a gust of wind from the opening door would not lead to an accidental decapitation. We all left without saw damage, and we were so full that we didn't even eat dinner.

Porkchop restaurant is at 941 E. Randolph, Chicago, Il 60607

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